ICSC New England Conference & Deal Making 2019: Wrap Up

Last week, members of Phase Zero Design had the opportunity to attend ICSC New England Conference & Deal Making. ICSC, the International Conference of Shopping Centers, hosts several conferences throughout the year centered around retail stores, commercial real estate trends and what’s happening in development. ICSC NECDM brings all of this to Boston, where we take a closer look at retail trends for the local New England markets. 

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Our team attended several informational workshops and panel discussions over the two days at ICSC. One notable speaker included the introductory luncheon keynote, economist Brian Beaulieu, where they had the chance to hear his presentation about the current and future states of retail and commercial real estate as it relates to the economy. Other than comic relief and relatability, Beaulieu had both statistics and personal insight to share with ICSC attendees. His firm, ITR Economics has a 94.7% accuracy rate on forecasting the outlook of the economy.  His insights were sure to note that we will see a dip in the economy in 2022, unfortunately. He also mentioned that Millennial’s are likely to experience another major recession in their lifetime, while Baby Boomers had already been through the worst and made it out on the other side. (Lucky them.)

Lindsay Corsino, our Director of Business Development, helped organize the Women in Real Estate workshop. This workshop aimed to demystify the ideal woman leader in the real estate profession by encouraging open conversation about perceptions and realities that women face in this industry. Facilitated by Heatherjean MacNeil of Orange Grove Consulting, this workshop explored how the unconscious biases women hold about themselves continue to be one of the dominant drivers that impact their leadership success. 

The Social Media in Retail Real Estate panel discussed who is using social media in this industry, how they are using it and what works for them. NECDM Program Planning Committee Co-chairman, Michael Branton, acted as the moderator for this discussion and brought insightful, important questions to the panelists. The panelists consisted of Beth Azor, owner of Azor Advisory Group, Jesse Baer-Kahn, Principal of Graffito S.P., and Sabrina Sandberg, VP of Retail & Marketing Strategy at Samuels & Associates. The main message that this panel had to deliver is to make sure you know who your audience is and where your audience is; each social media platform serves a different purpose and has a different demographic. The audience you target on LinkedIn is not going to be the same audience that you target on Twitter, and that’s okay. Tailor your messages for different target markets and use different social platforms to get your message across. 

As a firm who often works with alternative forms of retail, the discussion panel Thinking Outside the Box: Alternative Uses in Retail Real Estate brought underrepresented forms of retail to life. This panel was made up of Brad Artery, COO of Launch Trampoline Park, Charles Davis, VP of Leasing at Brixmor Property Group, Mike Kormelink, Director of Franchise Real Estate at Blink Fitness, and Lauren Macaulay, Franchisee of Title Boxing Club, and was moderated by the President & CEO of American Commercial Real Estate, Dusty Burke. This panel discussed the emergence of e-commerce in light of traditional retailer bankruptcies increasing, and how retail landlords have begun turning to fitness, entertainment and other alternative users for leasing centers. 

Thank you to everyone who stopped by booth #311; we hope you had a great time at the 2019 ICSC New England Conference & Deal Making.