ICSC 2012: A Walk on the Wild Side
Billy Gray Dec. 4, 2012, 7 a.m.
The International Council of Shopping Centers landed in New York at the Hilton yesterday morning for Day 1 of its two-day New York National Conferences. Keynote addresses were made, palms were greased and rubbery chicken was endured, as attendees shuffled between booths set up by retailers and brokerage firms ranging from A&G Realty Partners to Zinburger Frozen Yogurt.
After the jump, The Commercial Observer’s Billy Gray joins, and attempts to stay above, the fray.
9:07—Chaos reigns as hundreds of brokers are told registration takes place not at the Hilton on the Avenue of the Americas near 54th Street, but at the Sheraton, one block away on Seventh Avenue.
9:21—Panic-stricken, sleep-deprived young brokers amble through the main lobby, gesticulating and shouting, “Where is the coffee!?” to no one in particular.
9:33—Jonathan Gray, global head of real estate at Blackstone Group, addresses a half-full Grand Ballroom West. “I’m usually not one to make these keynote addresses,” Mr. Gray says. “But it was either this or manning a booth that required 60 one-on-one meetings.”
10:04—A zombie-esque procession snakes through the Hilton’s Rhinelander Gallery, which is jam-packed with brokerage firms and retailers.
10:17—The CO takes note of rival booths’ foodstuff presentations. The Goldstein Group’s platter of black & white cookies takes the early lead.
10:35—“This is my booth: nothing,” jokes a Corporate Realty Advisors representative while standing in front of a seriously denuded booth.
10:51—Ken Barnes, senior director of northeast regional development at 7-11, tells The CO that the line of convenience stores “can’t open more New York locations fast enough” and that the company is shooting for 30 signed leases in 2013. “Every neighborhood is a target,” Mr. Barnes says.
11:03—An elbow is discreetly but definitely thrown amid the jockeying for space in the Rhinelander Gallery.
11:20—During the “Retail Runway” presentation in the Grand Ballroom West, a spirited video introduction to Blink Fitness features a trainer telling the advertisement’s lab rat to, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable, cupcake.” Moments later, the featured drill sergeant bellows: “Soul? You can worry about that shit at yoga class.” Brows furrow throughout the ballroom.
11:36—The CO overhears the day’s first and only Glengarry Glen Ross reference.
11:51—Back to the subject of comfort: JMP Holdings has outfitted its booth with two massage contraptions, literally bringing weary brokers to their knees for a good shoulder rub.
11:55—ABS Partners’ Dean Valentino predicts that the energy will reach a fever pitch shortly after lunch. Mr. Valentino is “looking forward to the networking parties” tonight. Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s après-ICSC bash is a can’t-miss party, he says.
12:01—When asked how she keeps her sanity throughout the ICSC thrum, Winick Realty Group’s Kelly Gedinsky says “it’s really just like a typical day in the office.”
12:16—Ami Ziff, director of national retail at Time Equities, says that ICSC is busier than in previous years. “Asking rents are up in Manhattan, and where they aren’t up, they’ve stabilized,” Mr. Ziff says.
12:27—Lunch in the Grand Ballroom West. The incongruous spectacle of suit-and-tie-clad realtors networking while a Ke$ha club track blares from the speakers, the singer crooning about brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack. “It’s cold in here,” one broker says. “Not as cold as the chicken,” another says.
12:31—Lunch table conversation turns to the Villanova basketball team.
1:27—The CO roughly estimates the number of business cards scattered across the second-floor lobby at 17.
1:43—Overheard in the Rhinelander Gallery: “My voice is gonna be fucking shot to hell tomorrow.”
1:58—When asked about Walmart’s progress on its perennial goal of a New York City toehold, Walmart Realty’s Robert Davis says, “come back tomorrow.”
2:04—The CO sees its very first passed-out ICSC attendee of the day, on a couch by the 54th Street entrance to the Hilton.
2:17—Marcus & Millichap’s Steven Stroehrer and Preet Sabharwal say this year’s conference is “more optimistic and higher energy” than in the past. Then again, “a lot of people will be partying tonight; some of them might not make it at all tomorrow,” Mr. Sabharwal says. Both mention Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s party as the place to be tonight.
2:34—A Goldstein Property representative reaches under the table and replenishes the company’s seemingly bottomless supply of black & white cookies.
2:47—Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s Tyler Scalzo and Gal Horovitz agree that NGKF’s after-party is the can’t-miss event of the convention while wistfully recalling the company’s bash at Marquee in Las Vegas in May.
3:02—When asked how she maintains her focus and energy throughout ICSC, a broker cites “Adderall and vodka.”
3:15—The sleeping broker has woken up and vacated the side entrance couch.
- Newmark Grubb Knight Frank
- black & white cookies
- Marcus & Millichap
- Tyler Scalzo
- Blackstone Group
- Rhinelander Gallery
- Jonathan Gray
- Time Equities
- Goldstein Property
- Blink Fitness
- Robert Davis
- Ami Ziff
- Gal Horovitz
- Walmart Realty
- Steven Stroehrer
- Preet Sabharwal
- Kelly Gedinsky
- Ken Barnes
- Winick Realty Group
- Corporate Realty Advisors
- The Goldstein Group
- JMP Holdings