The ICSC Blog

September 30, 2014

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Retail Gets Its Groove Back: 10 Incisive Insights from the CEO of Shopping Center REIT, ROIC

Interview conducted and condensed by Michael Lagazo

Stuart Tanz, high qualityStuart Tanz, President and CEO of San Diego-based Retail Opportunity Investments Corporation (NASDAQ: ROIC), an excellent dividend growth REIT, shares leadership insights to kick off the ICSC Western Division conference this week.

Q: Were you always interested in shopping centers?

A: Yes. I started my real estate career in the late 1980s, as a one-man operation, developing small shopping centers in Southern California. So I learned the business from the ground up and have been focused in shopping center sector on the West Coast for almost 30 years now.

Q: What are your expectations for the ICSC Western Division conference this year?

A: We expect that it will be a very busy and productive conference. At the national convention in May, there was a lot of interest from retailers wanting to expand on the West Coast. So we expect to see the same level of interest and enthusiasm at this conference.

Q: What is your assessment of the current market conditions?

A: In terms of property acquisitions — there continues to be a good amount of activity in our markets. Thus far we are on pace for another very strong, record-setting year. In terms of leasing — we continue to see strong demand for space across our markets.

Q: What changes can the retail market in Southern California and the Western Region anticipate in 2015?

A: We do not expect any dramatic shifts in the retailing industry looking towards 2015. We expect demand for space to remain strong. As it relates specifically to our sector, grocery-anchored shopping centers, there could be a small amount of fallout, or transition, as a result of the Albertson’s/Safeway merger, but nothing that the market can’t absorb.

Q: How has the landlord-tenant dynamic shifted in the past several quarters?

A: Given the strong demand for space, the dynamic is much more balanced today.

Q: What trends are you seeing in leasing?

A: An increasing number of large, national retailers are looking to expand on the West Coast. Additionally, we are seeing a lot more regional and local retailers seeking space as well. Overall, the trends are very promising.

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Q: As of Q2 2014, your portfolio is reported to have occupancy rates of 96.8%. North Park Plaza in San Jose, CA is 100% leased. How does ROIC maintain consistent occupancy?

A: By being very proactive and hands-on with our properties and tenants. And by owning properties that well-situated, competitively located in the market that feature daily-necessity retailers that serve the surrounding community well.

Q: What yield enhancement and value add strategies have been most effective in ROIC’s portfolio?

A: Repositioning newly acquired properties where we aggressively improve the tenant mix, typically bringing in new, strong anchor retailers that are well-suited for the market.

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Q: Which retailers would you identify as ‘best-in-class’ in the grocery-anchored or necessity-based space?

A: We don’t look at leasing that way. We instead take each property individually, look carefully at the demographic profile and competing properties and then work to identify what are the best retailers for that property.

Q: With $357.8 million of shopping center acquisitions year-to-date (July 30, 2014 earnings), how is ROIC different from other REITs in creating opportunities in the current market?

A: Having owned and operated shopping centers for nearly 30 years on the West Coast, we know the markets extremely well and as a result are able to access attractive acquisition opportunities through off-market sources.

Q: What can you share with emerging shopping center professionals?

A: Now is a great time to get into the shopping center industry, especially on the West Coast.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

A: Aside from enjoying time with my family, I’m involved in a variety philanthropic efforts – most notably the Tanz Neuroscience Center, which was started by my family 20 years ago and today is one of the leading research centers for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

 

Stuart Tanz’s Bio: http://www.roireit.net/company-information/leadership-team/

ROIC Company Information: http://www.roireit.net/company-information/overview/

September 26, 2014

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Congratulations to Montreal Eaton Centre

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Congratulations to Montreal Eaton Centre, an Ivanhoé Cambridge property, the 2014 ICSC Foundation Canadian Community Support Award recipient. For the last decade, Montreal Eaton Centre (MEC) has supported Dans La Rue, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Montreal’s at-risk and homeless youth, through holiday campaigns that aimed to raise awareness and funds. 2013 marked Dans La Rue’s 25th anniversary, and Montreal Eaton Centre wanted to do something special by stepping up its commitment with the “Lights of Hope” campaign, to raise at least $25,000 for the organization.

The ICSC Foundation Community Support Award recognizes shopping centers around the world for their philanthropic work to address the needs of its community. The Canadian Community Support Award Winner, along with the winners of the other regional community support awards, will automatically be entered into a competition for the prestigious Albert Sussman International Community Support Award.

September 17, 2014

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ICSC Retailer of the Week: Central Perk

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This week’s Retailer of the Week is Central Perk. Yes you heard that right, the famous fictional coffee shop from the ever-popular sitcom “Friends” is real and now open in Manhattan SoHo neighborhood. This iteration of the shop is a pop-up shop brought to you by Warner Bros and Eight O’Clock Coffee to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the show.

People lined up as early as 6am to get their chance to sit on the big orange couch that Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachael, Joey and Phoebe once sat on. Free coffee was served and patrons had the chance to purchase memorabilia including shirts, mugs, and of course coffee. A large TV hangs on the walls where you can watch old episodes and every Friday night there will be live performances, including everyone’s favorite “Smelly Cat.”

The store will only be open until October 18th, so don’t miss out on your chance to relive some of the good times the old gang had.

September 16, 2014

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Three Things for National Developers to Consider When Moving to a Local Market

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By: Jill Krupp de Uribe, Neoscape

Across the nation, the retail market is being driven by tenants demanding Class A space, which is in short supply almost everywhere, while the growth of e-commerce, especially in apparel, consumer electronics and office supplies, is slowing construction of brick-and-mortar stores. And yet mixed-use real estate developments have never been more popular because of the proven success that can arise out of combining housing, retail and office space.

For national developers, it may be tempting to take a cookie-cutter approach when it comes to building mixed-use in various markets across the country. But, as with politics, it’s all local. There are, however, ways to maximize success. Here are three items that should always be evaluated.

  • Find the need: This may seem obvious, but sometimes lasting perceptions of a particular city or region can die hard, making it easy to overlook opportunities. For example, according to Cassidy Turley’s State of Commercial Real Estate Development Across the U.S. Fall 2014, Baltimore’s population is steadily increasing for the first time in 60 years.
  • Tailor the amenities: Tastes can vary by zip code. In New York City, developers are going to extremes to find ways to differentiate their projects, especially when it comes to residential mixed-use, from wine cellars and indoor play spaces for kids, to rock climbing walls. In Boston, playing up a commercial building’s location, especially in an emerging district (such as the Seaport), can be considered a unique amenity. For example, the new and highly anticipated Assembly Square mixed-use development in Somerville just got its own MBTA station on the Orange Line. Athletic company New Balance is building a new headquarters called Boston Landing, a mixed-use development that will include its own commuter rail stop.
  • Make the marketing shine: The amount of saturation in cities like New York means developers need to leverage more marketing strategies than they do in Boston or Orlando or smaller markets. Marketing materials that help you stand out include: a strong brand identity, website, apps, films, print collateral, advertising, and even a marketing center. Especially for busy executives and tech-savvy young professionals, an iPad app can be the most effective way to show the layout of the future development. It’s all about having a comprehensive and cohesive campaign, giving people various touch points to interact with the story before the shovel even goes into the ground to build the development. Evaluate how it would be best to get peoples’ attention in your new city.

While following national trends in commercial real estate is essential, what works in one city doesn’t always work in another.

Jill Krupp de Uribe is creative director at Neoscape.

September 15, 2014

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Teach Them to Tweet, Creative Brand Advocates for a Lifetime

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A special ICSC webinar, Wednesday, September 18

#TeachThemToTweet

Your company is ready to go social, but are your coworkers? A socially engaged and knowledgeable workforce can accelerate brand advocacy and enhance departmental objectives. While Altimeter Group reports that 62% of companies do not have an internal social media training program in place, only 43% identified this as a top social priority in 2014.

In this complimentary ICSC webinar featuring Michael Blondé, Education Business Development Manager at Hootsuite, attendees will learn:

  • How social media can enhance top departmental and company-wide goals
  • How to engage your workforce on social for exponential impact and growth
  • Relevant company examples and case studies of social success
  • Hootsuite’s six-step model to becoming a social business

In 45 minutes, you’ll gain industry insights and knowledge on how to integrate and scale social media across your organization, and significantly contribute to your company’s bottom line.

Time zone difference? Schedule conflict? Don’t worry! All registrants will receive a link to the webinar recording within 24 hours after the event, which you can watch at your convenience if you are unable to attend the live presentation.

Presenter: Michael Blondé, Business Development Manager, Education, Hootsuite
Michael Blondé is tasked with creating education rooted initiatives at Hootsuite, in order to support professionals, businesses and large enterprises in their digital transformation by addressing today’ growing digital skills gap. Most recently, he led the launch of the Advanced Social Media Strategy certification, a partnership with one of North America’s premier Communication Schools–Newhouse at Syracuse University.

Moderator: Jesse Tron, Manager, Communications & Media Relations, ICSC
Jesse Tron has been with ICSC for 6 years and handles communications and public relations. He is also in charge of the association’s brand management, recently completing their first-ever branding manual and implementation process. Jesse believes that good PR is built on the principals of content creation, storytelling and successful brand building — all of which he is busy implementing into ICSC’s latest push for greater industry awareness.

September 3, 2014

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Check out ICSC Retailer of the Week, Potatopia

If you like potatoes, then you will love this retail concept – a fast casual restaurant with an entirely potato-based menu! Potatopia has something for every potato lover. In addition to traditional fries, Potatopia offers mashed, smashed, baked, sweet, and many other kinds of potatoes. This serves as the base of the meal, with meats, vegetables, cheeses, and sauces added in to balance out the dish. Potatopia is committed to communicating with customers through social media, and encourages customers to also engage by creative drawings on the blank Potato sheets that allow them to represent themselves as a potato.

CEO and Founder Allen Dikker says that Potatopia does well when positioned near dessert shops like Hagan Daas that complement the salty potato dishes. It can operate well in small spaces, and is flexible with the amount of square feet in its stores. Potatopia has locations in the West Village of New York City, the Menlo Park Mall in Edison, NJ, and the newest location in the Staten Island Mall. The fun, delicious concept will be expanding further this fall with franchises opening in the Newport Centre Mall, the Roosevelt Field Mall, and elsewhere. For more information about Potatopia, check out the official website.

August 27, 2014

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Good Things Happening with Expanding Retailer Wafels & Dinges

In 2007, the King of Belgium heard that the waffle situation in America was dire. Pancake batter was being used to make waffles, and they were being paired with completely inauthentic toppings. In order to improve the situation and ensure that Americans would be exposed to authentic Belgian waffles, he appointed Thomas DeGeest and Rossanna Figuera as the Special Envoy for Wafels and the Ambassador of Good Things, respectively, under the Belgian Ministry of Culinary Affairs, Department of Wafels. (Or so DeGeest and Figuera tell us.)

Since the first waffle truck in 2007, DeGeest and Figuera have gone on to open five mobile kiosks, a flagship café, and another food truck. In addition to sweet and savory waffles and toppings, Wafels and Dinges also serves ice cream, coffee, shakes, and more. They are looking to continue expanding in select locations across the United States. For more information about Wafels and Dinges, check out the official website.

August 20, 2014

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Learn More About Expanding Retailer Luke’s Lobster

Anyone who has experienced a fresh lobster meal understands how special it is, especially when you are on the island of Manhattan instead of an island off the coast of Maine. Luke’s Lobster has helped fill this void for lobster-loving New Yorkers, with locations all over Manhattan and in some other mid-Atlantic states.

Of course, the pinnacle of the menu is the Lobster Roll, which is the most authentic tasting and reasonably priced you will find in the city at only $15 and without lots of celery or avocado as fillers. Other seafood sandwiches like crab and shrimp rolls are favorites as well. All of Luke’s lobster meat comes from Maine, where fishermen abide by strict rules to protect the species from overfishing practices.

The newest location is on E. 43rd St in Midtown East. The next Luke’s Lobster location will be in Park Slope, Brooklyn. For more information about Luke’s locations and menus, check out the official website.

August 13, 2014

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Expanding Retailer Blink Fitness Opens Bryant Park Location

Price and location are two very important factors in choosing which gym to join, and for many people, the top two reasons not to join a gym. Blink Fitness aims to avoid these problems with cheap membership fees and convenient locations. Although there are no group classes or towels, the Equinox-owned gym is conscious of its members’ needs, offering WiFi and plenty of televisions to enhance the Blink experience. Blink Bryant Park opened on Tuesday, July 22nd, marking the chain’s 29th location. For more information, check out Blink’s official website.