As part of our preview coverage of the upcoming International Council of Shopping Centers’ New York deal-making convention in New York City, Dec. 6 and 7, Chain Store Age talked with Joseph Coradino, president of Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust/PREIT Services, Philadelphia, about retailer attitude and potential deals at the New York convention.
What do you expect the retailer attitude to be at the ICSC New York deal-making show in early December?
Before this past weekend (Nov. 26 to 28), I would have said there would be a continued sense of cautious optimism. Now, though, I think that the patient is recovering. And what we saw at our properties over the holiday shopping weekend underscores that. Retailers are paying very close attention to what the consumer is going to do this holiday season. Therefore, I think that the ICSC-New York convention will probably be the best since 2007. Deals will get done, I believe, and just as important, I think we will begin to see a lot of stages being set for deals that will be done as soon as the results for the holiday season become clear.
So, you DO expect deals to be made at the convention?
There was a popular joke in 2008 and 2009 that we landlords would be better off not showing up at our meetings because only then would we not have to give rent relief. But now New York presents an opportunity for both landlords and tenants to not only do deals but to lay a foundation for more deals in the not-so-distant future.
What do you anticipate will be most talked-about in the aisles of the show?
The fact that we are experiencing a better-than-predicted holiday shopping season. For the first time in several years, we have a chance of outperforming the estimates.
If you had to project what the key takeaway from ICSC New York is, what do you think it will be?
We’re all looking to answer a key question, and that is: what is the new retail paradigm? I think we’ll find out in New York. It’s a very pivotal conference in that we’re going to get a chance, through the series of meetings, to get a sense of the direction that retail will take over the next few years. And, in our business that’s an eternity.
Keep in mind that a number of retailers have rolled out new concepts; examples include Aeropostale’s 77 kids, Gymboree’s Crazy 8 and Footlocker’s CCS. That’s very encouraging. And it’s clearly what we need in order to begin to see recovery take hold and grow at some normal level. I think we’re going to want to see what is new and what the horizon holds, and I think we’ll learn that in New York.
What projects will you be focused on at this year’s convention?
We will be focused on three projects – finishing up [leasing] Plymouth Meeting Mall (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.), finishing up Voorhees Town Center (Voorhees, N.J.), and unveiling the transformational redevelopment of The Gallery at Market East (downtown Philadelphia).