LOS ANGELES—“In our world, we have strong demand. Our retail portfolio is 100% leased, our properties have double digit growth, and the banking world is a wonderful world to be in to borrow money. On the residential side, we are also 100% leased and have a full waiting list.” That is according to Rick Caruso, founder and CEO of Caruso Affiliated. “It has been a nice time to find properties, entitle properties, and borrow.”
Caruso joined Lew Horne, executive managing director of CBRE, on Tuesday morning at RealShare Los Angeles to dive a little further into Caruso Affiliated’s recipe for success. According to Caruso, breaking the rules is part of that key formula.
“The market is good and relatively strong… The consumer is back spending and there is a greater level of confidence and we are building back into it,” he said.
“There is a unique opportunity in the marketplace today that if you tap into it. If you stick to high quality properties that are well maintained, I think you can do exceptionally well,” he said. Caruso Affiliated likes to be in a space where it has to take some entitlement risk because “that is the place to make some money.”
Horne asked Caruso how his company thrived in an environment where many were just trying to survive. The answer was by breaking the rules and stepping out of the box. “All of us in business struggle with trying to balance knowing what the rules are for success—or the presumed rules for success,” he said. “I didn’t know the rules when I started, and had I known the rules, it might not have turned out the same.”
It is about taking chances, and for the retail sector in particular, Caruso said, it is about leading the way. “Either you lead, follow, or get out of the way in retail…if you aren’t ahead of the consumer trends and if you aren’t understanding what they want and responding very quickly, you are going to get run over.”
He explained that Caruso Affiliated spends a lot of time trying to forget about what the rules are. “Most everyone we hire has no background in the shopping center business… We aren’t in that business. We are in a business of building a great place, that just so happens to have stores and a movie theater.”
The future of retail, according to Caruso, is about creating an experience. “It is about being connected to the consumer,” he said. “We need to tap into the basic human nature of how you want to live your life. Think about how you are going to bring someone back to the property over and over again.”
Stay tuned for more coverage from RealShare Los Angeles.