Retail Redux: Robert K. Futterman on ICSC, Hurricane Sandy and More
In the merely 13 years since its founding, the retail real estate brokerage Robert K. Futterman & Associates has been responsible for $20 billion worth of transactions. The firm’s chairman and chief executive, Robert K. Futterman, has helped tenants and landlords sign the dotted line on $10 billion worth of deals while making his company a presence in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Jersey and San Francisco.
Mr. Futterman spoke to The Commercial Observer as he wrapped up prep work for the International Council of Shopping Centers’ chaotic New York conclave, sharing his thoughts on the past year and future of retail real estate, the rebound from Hurricane Sandy and Downtown’s increasingly amorphous boundary.
The Commercial Observer: This year the ICSC proceedings will run for two days, as opposed to three as it has in the past. Do you think this will improve the event?
Mr. Futterman: Can I tell you that my brokers are working Sunday? And really, they’re not going to stop until Thursday. So, yes within the confines of the Hilton, it’s two days. But the party starts this weekend. We have meetings, dinners, a cocktail party on Sunday. But it’s all ICSC-related. On Wednesday we’re out and about to do sight tours and to meet with landlords who aren’t attending the conference. Think about it: residential developers and office owners, your traditional New York landlords, don’t necessarily go to ICSC.
But in general, this week is a great time to meet people before everybody starts thinking about Christmas vacation. It’s a perfect time for deals to get started. I always say, at ICSC, nothing really gets done. Everything gets started. It’s our Super Bowl.
What developments from the Las Vegas ICSC convention in May do you expect to carry over into the New York conversation?
The good news is deals that started in Vegas in May have gotten done or are getting done right around now. And deals that you get started now, tenants you’re talking to this week, are looking to open in the fall, unless it’s big construction. That’s the name of the game. But the truth is, a retailer can start negotiating on a space with a 24-month horizon. Tenants budget years in advance from when they’re going to open stores. They plan out where they need to be strategically, and when they’re going to buy merchandise. And it’s not too early, if you have a space that you could lock down in a great location two years in advance.
So we’re involved in a lot of new construction. We have a project at 855 Sixth Avenue, which is a Durst [Organization] property. We’re working with Gary Barnett on 48th Street right off Fifth Avenue, which is a great opportunity. We’re representing Silverstein Properties on the old Mercedes-Benz site on 10th Avenue—that’s 240,000 feet of retail. So a lot of the meetings we’re having are with tenants that are looking to open 18 to 24 months from now.
Speaking of Vegas, how is Miracle Mile doing? The recession hit Sin City exceptionally hard. Has Miracle Mile weathered the storm?
Miracle Mile is one of the great success stories. The fact of the matter is, there are fewer high rollers coming through Vegas these days. Hotel rates have come down. And I think shopping is helping stabilize Vegas. For one thing, you’re targeting a more accessible customer. And given the central location on the Strip, near the Paris and the Bellagio, the shopping center sees quite a lot of foot traffic.