Pondering the future of real estate industry gatherings.
Have you ever wondered what ICSC might call itself if it were to acquire a new name in today's market? Maybe it is just me, and maybe I have too much time, but the 1980s market of mall–mall–mall has surely changed with traditional mall tenancies (and certainly food) now being found in a myriad of non-mall (i.e., non-shopping center) projects, big and small – urban and rural.
A few years ago, ICSC did a nice job welcoming many foreign developers to the Vegas deal making conference. Foreign development is a trend that seems to have receded and has grown into other categories. More and more retail space seems to be drawn to office and multifamily projects, categories that seem relatively unrepresented at the May conference; categories that are forward thinking and — as relates to multifamily — hot in today's still tepid market. The first floor street front tenant is highly desirable, often by landlords not present at deal making sessions.
Historically, the May ICSC RECon convention has not had the wrong model. However, it is important that it grow in content and attendees; that it push into other markets; that it stays fresh and relevant. For sure, ICSC is still the industry leader but, for example, retailer conferences have siphoned off some attendees (certainly from ICSC's Law Conference) and other groups like ULI have captured the attention of many senior thought leaders, particularly at local events. As this growing competition flows in, there should be a focus to capture and retain current members and attendees, and cultivate future members. My opinion: expanding to other disciplines in commercial real estate would be a start.
— Abe Schear is a partner with Atlanta-based law firm Arnall Golden Gregory.