CoStar News reported from the floor of the year's biggest retail real estate event, the International Council of Shopping Centers RECon 2016. By most accounts, this year’s conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center was the busiest and most well-attended ICSC event since 2006.
Robust levels of deal-making and networking at the annual event held in the Glitter Capital served as a reminder of how market conditions have turned for all things commercial real estate. High points included plenty of deal-making activity by restaurants, entertainment companies, service-related and discount retailers -- and even suburban neighborhood shopping center landlords, who are now enjoying a late-recovery boost in rents and occupancy.
"People are positive about the number of attendees and how their deal calendars have booked out," noted Jeff Rinkov, CEO of Lee & Associates, who reported the mood during day two of the conference as very upbeat. "There's so much value in this hall. It's amazing compared with other real estate conferences."
Michael Podboy, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Chicago-based REIT InvenTrust Properties, which owns 112 multi-tenant retail properties totaling 18.5 million square feet of retail space in 24 states, nicely sums up property-level operating conditions of retail owners.
"The one thing I continue to hear in unison today is that across the board, fundamentals are strong. What people here are trying to balance is the number of years we’ve been in this recovery -- and how long it can sustain -- with the strong underlying operating fundamentals we're continuing to see.”
Reflecting a trend spreading across the broader commercial real estate industry, technology and data solutions played a larger role than ever at this year’s RECon. Panel discussions about retail property analytics, e-commerce and omni-channeling drew large crowds, and booth traffic was heavy for CoStar, LoopNet and many other companies in the ICSC’s Marketplace Mall.
While sentiment about future conditions for retailers was decidedly mixed during the four-day event, comments during Marcus & Millichap's popular Retail Trends event -- one of RECon’s hottest tickets -- reflected a more bullish outlook for the remainder of the year by retail real estate investors and brokers.
None other than former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, who served from 2006 to 2014 and steered the Fed through the financial crisis, pointed out that the U.S. economy has been steadily recovering for more than seven years, but receives little credit for what he calls “the Rodney Dangerfield recovery,” aiming a bit of Las Vegas-style humor at critics of the recovery’s slow pace. “It doesn’t get any respect,” Bernanke lamented, before delivering an optimistic observation aimed at those concerned about the near-term threat of another downturn.
“In terms of the risk of recession, recoveries don’t just die of old age,” Bernanke said. “They continue on, unless there are shocks that drive them off course.”
Read CoStar's RECon news coverage HERE: