RECon 2012 left landlords and tenants anticipating what’s to come

A heat wave washed over Las Vegas just in time for the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual RECon event May 20-23 — and the mood inside the Las Vegas Convention Center was just as elevated.

“I am very bullish on this year’s RECon,” said Andy Graiser, co-president of A&G Realty Partners, Melville, N.Y. “Growth is becoming evident in most all categories, and it’s smart growth.”

The dollar stores are continuing their aggressive expansion, said Graiser, and “we are seeing strategic growth from discounters such as T.J. Maxx, temporary concepts like Spirit Halloween, companies such as Pier 1 Imports, auto supply retailers, c-stores Wawa and Sheetz, and even some of the junior boxes like Bed Bath & Beyond and Target – although not at the rate we’ve seen before.

“Generally, I am bullish on where a lot of the growth is,” he said.

In the shopping-center arena, talk of growth was largely centered around the outlet format. Glimcher Realty Trust unveiled its Outlet Collection > brand at RECon, and announced it would apply the new branding to two of its existing outlet properties — Jersey Gardens, which will become The Outlet Collection — Jersey Gardens, and SuperMall in Auburn, Wash., which will be reformatted into a purely outlet center and renamed The Outlet Collection — Seattle.

Renovations at the New Jersey property (located near Newark, N.J., and New York City) are slated to begin this summer, and Seattle will launch Phase 1 construction this fall. “The Outlet Collection better reflects the upscale tenants at these properties and opens up new options for value-priced retailers looking to grow in the next 12 to 24 months,” said Michael Glimcher, CEO, Columbus, Ohio-based Glimcher.

Redevelopments were also fully on display at RECon 2012, and it wasn’t just the large or glamorous projects that were garnering attention. Levin Management Corp., North Plainfield, N.J., was showcasing its Hamilton (N.J.) Plaza redevelopment, anchored by a newly expanded ShopRite supermarket and featuring a façade renovation, new signage, a revamped circulation pattern to optimize traffic flow, as well as the addition of an endcap and two pad sites. “It’s been a good first half of the year for us in terms of leasing,” said Matt Harding, CEO. Levin is in lease discussions for the new 10,000-sq.-ft. endcap location at Hamilton Plaza.

While the overall mood at RECon 2012 was certainly positive, there is room for improvement.

“I think the amount of booth vacancies was telling,” said Jason Baker, X Team International partner and co-founder/principal of Baker Katz. That temperance applies to his home base of Houston, as well. “I only saw one new site plan [at RECon] of any real scale for the Houston market,” Baker said. “I think that really speaks to the appetite for deals from larger retailers. I do think new development will happen in Houston, but it seems to be moving at a much slower pace than I would have expected.”

kboccaccio@chainstoreage.com