Christopher Conlon

Christopher Conlon

Executive vice president and CEO at Acadia Realty Trust

Christopher Conlon
By November 2, 2020 9:00 AM

In 2021, will you buy or sell any real estate? What kind?

Yes, and yes. We are always actively underwriting new opportunities and expect that pace to quicken as the world settles down. We have dry powder in our current Fund 5, and expect to remain very active into 2021 and beyond. As far as selling, as funds stabilize — and we have several that will qualify — they will be sold. We are assessing the portfolio now for those opportunities.

How f@*$ed is retail?

Bad retail is badly f@*$ed. Bad retail has had its life shortened, and the inevitable is playing out on an accelerated schedule. Those properties will need to be reinvented.

Good retail remains good retail and will continue to attract interest from survivor retailers who have a clear path to success in an omni-channel world. [We] must have streets [and] neighborhoods, and broader submarkets will continue to thrive and evolve as retailers realize their potential relevance and productivity.

How flexible are you with negotiating rents?

Negotiating rents and flexibility are synonymous terms. We are always open and available to negotiate, as long as those discussions are rational, reflect market values, and relate directly to productivity. For existing leases, flexibility is a requirement, but must relate to pre-pandemic performance and behavior.

Any successful retailer, who had a good business and was a good rent payer pre-pandemic, deserves our attention and a helping hand through these difficult times.

Has your “dead to me” list grown?

Some bad actors have emerged. That’s unfortunate. They will be dealt with accordingly. But, to be fair, the vast majority of retailers in our portfolios have been rational, engaged, and fair through this.

Are you in the market for financing?

We’re always in the market for financing. Banks and other lending sources are appropriately cautious, but available for discussions. We have no particularly pressing financings at the moment, but we are always connected and engaged.

What would be the signs that things are NOT going to improve in 2021?

We believe things will improve significantly in 2021. A second shutdown could slow that down, but best-in-class retailers are navigating this difficult period with creativity and innovation. I think that getting our restaurants, gyms and theaters open and operating (even in a limited capacity) is essential.

What do you think will NOT go back to normal?

What’s gone for good is single-channel retail. Pure play e-commerce or physical stores only are notions of the past. Omni-channel has been accelerated by many years, and only those retailers who can embrace and thrive in this way will win long-term. Buy from anywhere and ship from store are key components to successful and robust retail.

Who do you like for mayor in 2021?

Anyone who can galvanize our great city, and advance social responsibility alongside economic growth and job creation. We need to care for each other, heal, and press forward.

What do you think the city and/or state should do to help both real estate and the city?

They need to realize that raising real estate taxes is not a panacea for all that ails the city. Urban mismanagement and failed policies need to be acknowledged and corrected. Economic growth and job creation are the keys to getting us back on track.

 

LIGHTNING ROUND

Where’s your apocalypse bunker?
In a quiet cove on the Long Island Sound on a 1966 Chris-Craft sea skiff.

Favorite at-home quarantine foods?
Gelato and Pirate’s Booty [snacks]

Did you gain or lose weight during quarantine? Gained … ALL MUSCLE, LOL.

Sourdough bread, banana bread, other? I’m gluten-free, so don’t touch the stuff. I have plenty of other vices.

Which TV show have you binged? “Succession”

What restaurant did you go to when restaurants reopened?
Black Barn on 26th Street

Mayor de Blasio: Best Mayor or Best Mayor EVER? Won’t touch this one.

Best work-from-home hack?
All about the lighting for the Zoom calls.

Where did you quarantine?
Greenwich, Conn.

Biden, Trump or Kanye? Bloomberg