Most of the 30,000-plus Real Estate Professionals who returned home this week from the International Council Of Shopping Centers’ annual spring convention are busy following up on potential deals they encountered here in Las Vegas.
CEO’s and other senior executives took time out from their deal making duties to take the pulse of the event and offer insights about what’s in store for the industry.
Without exception, the executives commented on how much morale has improved since the last convention in 2009. ” The tone is much more upbeat than the past couple of years” said a clearly pleased John Santora, Cushman & Wakefield Inc’s President & CEO. Investors are looking ahead to 2011 and 2012 and getting ready to make acquisitions. Santora said his conversations at the convention also confirmed that retail investors are primarily chasing Class A reatil properties, even if those assets are located outside of A Markets.
Likewise, Cassidy Turley CEO Mark Burkhardt said during a coversation at the firm’s booth on Tuesday, ” Our people have been completely booked. There is a tremendous amount of activity going on” As a measure of that activity, Cassisdy-Turley-sponsored event drew a crowd of 650 people. That increased wattage was all the more striking on account of the retail sector’s long stretch of dismal performance, during the past couple of years.
Although encouraged by the improving buzz, CEO’s conveyed an impression of realistic and targeted growth plans for the next year or two.
Commenting on strategy, CEO’s and others characterized today’s promising but uncertain climate as an ideal time to get ahead of the competition.” We think it’s an ideal time to invest in more people,” contended Rich Walter, CEO of Faris Lee Associates, a boutique retail advisory firm based in Irvine, California. Faris Lee is planning to rollout as many as five new offices in major markets like Chicago, Texas and South Florida. The firm’s growth is being driven in large measure by the demand for services tied to the disposition of distressed retail properties.
In the midst of the more positive spirit that marked this year’s convention, some executives stressed that things will get better for Real Estate only when the financial markets get back on track. ” Its’ important for our stable of clients over the next 5 to 10 years” noted Greg Malone, CEO of Jones, Lang LaSalle Retail Division . Store Remodeling and Expansion require sources of debt and equity. Underlying those activities is the realization that the retail sector’s future is being shaped by technology and the expectations of younger shoppers in particular. ” We have to be ready to embrace the change, and make sure clients and investors have the capital to do it. ”
(credit Paul Rosta CPE)