Meeting of Minds
Newspaper: Arizona Commercial Real Estate
ICSC Southwest Idea Exchange helps retail developers
Most of their experience in the retail sector has been enhanced by their ICSC membership. Currently, there are 1,903 ICSC Southwest members from Arizona.
"Anyone that gets into real estate and is on the retail end," Ladendorf says, "whether you're a retailer, developer or broker, the No. 1 organization that you get into is ICSC. I can't think of another one you would get into if you want to excel (in retail)."
Ladendorf and Pollack have teamed up to enhance other's retail experiences as co-chairs of the 2008 Southwest Idea Exchange Program (SWIE). Considering the current market status, it's the perfect time and place for retailers to exchange what's on their minds.
Pollack says going into 2008, the retail market will spend most of the year finding itself.
"With the slowdown of single-family housing it will be difficult for a lot of the planned retail developments to break ground on schedule," Pollack says.
Ladendorf says the biggest trend is pushing opening dates to 2009. Pollack attributes this to developers and retailers reevaluating their expansion plans and re-prioritizing their growth objectives.
"However, Phoenix is still the fastest growing city in the nation," Ladendorf says. "Retailers and developers are still committed to their projects, they're just not opening them as fast."
The slowdown in the market is one of the many challenges retailers face.
"The level of change is a blessing and a curse," Pollack says, "but it's part of what makes the industry exciting.
"There is a great deal of change in what retailers want all the time, what municipalities expect all the time, the change in cost of land and construction as well. There's a great deal of change, and that's what makes the industry so exciting. That's what the SWIE is all about."
For people who want to get a feel for what is going on in the retail industry, the SWIE is a great event to go to, Ladendorf says, because "everyone can relate to it."
"(The SWIE) is a great stepping stone to learn who the players are, to learn who's developing, the tenants out there coming to the market, and to meet economic development directors in the different municipalities," Pollack says. "It's a great stepping stone to dive into the marketplace, to dive into a career in retail real estate."
The SWIE's theme and seminar topics are chosen through a series of meetings held in the beginning of the summer with a large group of professionals that make up the ICSC Southwest steering committee, Pollack says.
"We spend a great deal of time in the early planning meetings talking about what will be relevant during the time of the conference, and working toward finding the best common themes," he says. "From these conversations, we are usually able to cobble together a few great session ideas and an over-arching theme title to bring it all together."
The theme for this year's SWIE is The Changing Face of Retail. There are three general sessions. The economic overview will cover retail sales, consumer spending, capital markets and growth. New faces in retail will look at the new retailers opening for business in the years ahead, their impact on the local retail scene, as well as a look at their long-term strategies. Mixed-use development is one of the hottest things to hit Phoenix. The SWIE will give attendees an in-depth look at the complexion of several very different and creative projects.
At last year's SWIE, approximately 905 people attended. Ladendorf says they expect to exceed that number for 2008.
"It's a chance for people to get their name out there," Ladendorf says, adding that retail business comes down to relationships with tenants and constantly being a part of organizations like ICSC.
"It's not just developing properties, but it's being involved in the organizations that retailers, municipalities, tenants and brokers all belong to," Ladendorf says. "If you want to be successful, I think you need to be a part of the organizations. You need to contribute and give back to the community."
Pollack agrees, saying, "The biggest thing ICSC brings to our business is relationships and getting us out there. ICSC gets us in front of the new retailers in the market, brokers in the market, as well as new city managers looking into the cities that you might not have a chance to meet otherwise. ... ICSC brings a lot of people together."