The Official ICSC Blog and the Voice of the Retail Real Estate Industry

The Official ICSC Blog

January 9, 2014

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The Winding Academic Paths to a Career in Retail Real Estate

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By: Sarah Ritchie
Over the last several years, there has been a rapid expansion in academic degrees focused specifically on the real estate discipline.  The curricula and programs vary and include undergraduate and graduate degrees, interdisciplinary real estate development programs (often in schools of planning or architecture), and finance-driven majors, located in business schools.  While it is natural that students interested in jobs in real estate (and retail real estate specifically) would gravitate to these degree-granting programs, I hope this posting will serve as a reminder to young people engaged in other areas of study:  they, too, should consider this field as a career option.  This point was made—by both Michael Kercheval, President & CEO of ICSC, and Jason Greenstone, a member of the retail services team at Cushman & Wakefield—to a recent group of University of Oklahoma MBA students visiting ICSC during their winter break.  Like so many other business students in America, the students are matriculating with general business coursework, containing little emphasis (comparatively speaking) on real estate.  As an OU alumn, I am most certainly prejudiced, but I believe our industry would welcome them with open arms. 

The small group of students are the “cream of the crop,” if you will, from the OU Price School of Business.  These “Price Scholars” enjoy full financial scholarships to underwrite their MBA studies, in addition to other educational opportunities.  For example, this summer they will be in New York, taking classes at the NYU Stern School of Business and working at internship positions around Manhattan. The intellectual history of the OU Business School, coupled with its location in an oil and natural gas rich state, leads the university to focus on energy related classes, in conjunction with general business courses.  The study of retailing and real estate is nominally included in a variety of classes during the two-year program. Yet, we all encouraged these young people to join ICSC’s student membership program and learn more about the field.

Over the lifetime of the ICSC student membership program, we have embraced student participants from a vast array of academic disciplines:  architecture, law, economics, marketing, fashion/art, and the social sciences, among others, standing side-by-side with general business students and those specializing in real estate and development.  These young people attend all sorts of schools—large universities with free-standing real estate programs, but also smaller schools and liberal arts colleges that do not have such academic opportunities.  ALL are welcome.

As I make this argument, I need only draw from the experiences of top-leaders in the industry to show that not all industry leaders studied retailing and real estate during their university days.  While some “grew up” in the family-owned shopping center businesses and others set out on an academic program in real estate, many did not.  These personal stories of serendipitous opportunities in retail real estate have become a familiar theme in many of our presentations and seminars, organized for young people.

Consider, for example, the story of Michael E. McCarty, now an Executive Vice President for Simon Properties, the world’s largest owner of shopping centers.  Having been raised in a family of modest means, McCarty admits that he didn’t enjoy the prospect of attending college.  Rather, after graduating high school, he worked in restaurant management.  Through some twists and turns of fate, he eventually took a very low-level position in shopping center management and has literally worked his way up the Simon corporate ladder, obviously with lots of innate “smarts,” creativity, grit and determination.  Or take the case of Mary Lou Fiala, the recently retired President and COO of Regency Centers, a REIT based in Jacksonville, Florida.  After completing a college degree in retailing at Miami University in Ohio (a degree she earned while raising a young family), she had a long career working for a number of large retailers like Macy’s Federated.  Only later in her career, was she recruited by Regency—and subsequently trained by the company, to learn the nuances of leading a REIT from a retailer’s perspective.  Fiala demonstrated such success that she was eventually elected to serve as the global board chair of ICSC.  She was only the third woman to hold that position in ICSC’s 50+ year history.  Finally, the career path of Sandeep Mathrani has a similar theme.  Mathrani, now the President & CEO of GGP, the behemoth shopping center company based in Chicago, was trained as an engineer (he earned his undergraduate degree in engineering and a master’s in management science at Stevens Institute of Technology).  His real estate education was personal—as he says, he “flipped a house” as a young professional.  With money in his pocket from the transaction, the rest, as they say, was history.

Don’t get me wrong…there are obvious benefits of a real estate degree, from the perspective of students and employers, but that need not be the only path to entering this exciting field.  So, again we say welcome to student members of all academic interests.  Who knows where this industry may lead you.

See more about the Price Scholars visit in the video clip below.

January 6, 2014

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SeeItFit partners with retailers to bring consumers a virtual dressing room


Written by: John Crossman

With “selfie” selected as the word of 2013, it seems a new website has taken the term as a call to action.  SeeItFit.com, launched in November 2013, promoting ecommerce by providing a new online shopping experience.  By partnering with retailers to create a virtual dressing room, users can upload a personal full-body photo to “try on” selected fashion items and share via their personal social media channels or post to the site’s public gallery.
 
The site’s focus personalizes ecommerce by helping online shoppers get real time feedback on the proverbial fashion question: “How does it look?” SeeItFit offers customized options for retailer partners, including allowing shoppers to see an item on before making a purchase, and getting size and accessory recommendations.  SeeItFit’s founders believe the seeing and sharing aspect of their site and easy integration for retailers are industry game changers.  While the site is young, SeeItFit contends it is a solution for retailers to increase conversion rates, decrease returns and capture some of the $18+B left in online shopping carts each year.
 
SeeItFit offers retailers up-sale opportunities as users add to their virtual closets and get feedback from friends and targeted marketing from retailers.  The site is free.
 
Other sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Snap Chat have succeeded in the free photo sharing model, but we’ve not yet seen this take hold in an online retail “virtual try on” arena.  There are many companies forging into online shopping augment reality solutions.  SeeItFit does not offer avatars.  They encourage users to upload a picture, see items on and share the looks.  SeeItFit currently provides a number of retailers, including brands like Zara, Under Armor, Lord & Taylor and Banana Republic.  This company is one to watch this year and could be the long-needed solution to online shopping.

December 13, 2013

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Use #MindfulMalls to Promote Holiday Philanthropy


In October, the ICSC Foundation launched the #MindfulMalls hashtag, a Twitter campaign to promote and recognize the incredible generosity and community spirit within the shopping center industry, and it’s been a huge success. We received countless tweets, pictures, and video of events, fundraisers and community outreach focused on theme of the month: breast cancer awareness.

The holidays are in full swing and we want to see how malls are capturing the spirit of generosity this season. From holiday classics like toys, coats or food drives, to new campaigns like “Quiet Santa” for children with autism, what is your center doing to the needs of their communities. We are asking centers to tweet how they are positively impacting their communities this holiday season, using #MindfullMalls and #ICSCFoundation hash tags. We want to see who collected the most donations, so be sure to include videos and pictures!

December 10, 2013

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Change is the Only Constant

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By: Matt Winn, Global Retail COO, Cushman & Wakefield
 
Having just attended RECon Asia 2013, where we officially kicked off our global partnership with ICSC with a bang, we’re thrilled to be in New York City this week for the New York National Conference.
 
As the saying goes, change is the only constant. And change is certainly on our mind this week. We are already a little nostalgic as this is the New York Conference’s last year at the Hilton New York and Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers. Truly, we have some great memories of shows past here. But we’re also excited about the future and ICSC’s move to the Javits Center for the 2014 Conference, which will be a terrific new venue. Congratulations to ICSC for making it happen.
 
Change is also on our minds as we consider retail in New York.  Perhaps there’s no better example of a shifting retail landscape than Lower Manhattan. Once considered a business district and little else, Lower Manhattan has become a desirable place to live, work and visit. The residential population has exploded over the last 10 years, tourist volumes are way up, and the number of hotel rooms available and rooms in the development pipeline has grown dramatically. Add to those conditions an ever-diversifying employment base and you have all of the ingredients for a vibrant, growing 24/7 environment ripe for a retail renaissance.
 
Our just-released white paper “Retail Revival: The Rebirth of Retail in Lower Manhattan” takes a closer look at what’s happening in this part of the city and what further changes may be in store.  We think you’ll find the report intriguing.

December 10, 2013

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Jacob Javits Center 3D Fly Through

ICSC NYConf 2014 – Javits Center from 3DCRE on Vimeo.

ICSC will move its New York National Conference & Deal Making (December 8-9) in 2014 to the expanded Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, on the West Side of Manhattan, putting the meeting at the epicenter of the largest makeover project in New York City in decades.

New York National Conference & Deal Making, ICSC’s second-largest annual event after RECon, will be housed in a facility that has just undergone a $500 million expansion and renovation. Under construction nearby is the $6 billion first phase of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project.

Access to the convention center from hotels in midtown Manhattan and Times Square is made easy by the recent extension of the No. 7 subway line that goes directly to Javits Center.

Thanks to Dave Lewand, Jeffrey Hughey and the team at 3DCRE.

For cost-effective, quick turnaround interactive 3D Models and Movies, please contact:

3DCRE – Square Feet in Motion
Dave Lewand
Phone: 630.901.1075
Email: dave@davelewand.com
Website: http://3DCRE.com
Twitter: @3DCRE
Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/davelewand/3dcre
3D Warehouse Portfolio: bit.ly/3dcre-wh

Also check out Javits Center on Honest Buildings