Opening ICSC RECon reception at XS nightclub at Encore in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS—Welcome to ICSC’s RECon 2019 event here in Las Vegas! If you are one of the 40,000 or so individuals here, you might have attended last night’s opening reception (as we did) at Encore XS Nightclub (or one of many other parties happening around the strip).

No matter how you spent you first night at RECon, it is clear that deals and networking don’t just happen on the show floor, they happen after hours as well. To prepare for the event, we got a few retail thoughts from some of the experts in attendance.

Kevin Zak, principal, Dorsky + Yue International

Kevin Zak, principal, Dorsky + Yue International, says he is there is greater diversity than ever before in the projects and scopes that will be discussed at the big RECon event this year. “Retail’s shift to be more inclusive of other program types is leading to interesting conversations that we weren’t having in years past. That’s very exciting because we have expertise in a wide variety of project types and a great deal of experience successfully mixing those uses in complex projects. We live for the opportunity to bring a deeper level of strategy and creativity to the dialog.”

Zak tells that this particular event provides a great opportunity for listening and learning. “When we listen, we have the opportunity to diagnose. Our developer/owner client’s pain points and challenges become our opportunities. These conversations inform the strategies and designs that will become the next generation built environments.”

Nick Banks, Avison Young principal and managing director—Gainesville, tells that he is expecting to see a lot of excitement at this year’s show. “The smaller, regional shows have all been well attended and there are new, exciting projects happening all over the country. I expect to see that momentum on an even larger scale at RECon,” he says. “It’s always such a rush with all the meetings and events, but what I look forward to the most are the impromptu meetings with old friends and colleagues I happen to run into while I’m there.”

The scale of the conference with so many attendees is so massive, he adds, “but I’m always surprised at how small our industry feels. The real estate business is all about relationships and there is no better place to connect with new and old relationships than at RECon.”

Steve Wathen, CEO of Columbus, OH-based Equity|ECS

Steve Wathen, CEO of Columbus, OH-based Equity|ECS, agrees, telling that the retail landscape has evolved and changed dramatically over the last few years and 2019 is no exception. “We expect a highly productive and fully engaged RECon and are looking forward to telling our stories and getting insights from others.”

His firm brought 20 associates from 10 offices to the event. “We coined the phrase ‘healthcare is the new retail.’ As both a national healthcare and a retail developer, we will be showcasing those skills as both standalones and integrated uses. We will also be focusing on the rapidly growing entertainment space.”

Ralph Ireland, VP of development operations at Tavistock Development Co.

Ralph Ireland, VP of development operations at Tavistock Development Co., tells that he is very curious to see what other developers are doing to reposition shopping centers by integrating food and beverage and other uses.

As for expectations for the show itself, Ireland says he expects a continued cautious optimism about retail in general and a lot of activity especially with some of the newer concepts and “clicks to bricks” concepts finding their footing. “Now that those retailers have figured it out, I anticipate we’ll see more of those deals. The few that still haven’t will continue negotiating rent relief or package closings.”

Jon Croy, co-Founder and CEO of Point Inside

Attendee Jon Croy, co-Founder and CEO of Point Inside, tells that he anticipates this year’s conference to be positive, focused on the future. “I am eager to find new ways to be competitive even in a time of change. There are tons of opportunity to optimize within retail real estate, and attendees should be looking forward to that.”

As a tech company, of course, he says he hopes that attendees are looking for more data to help them make decisions, whether that’s owner/managers looking to optimize their mix, or retailers seeking to get the most for their money.

“This will be my first RECon in a few years, and as we plan our meetings, we’re finding a dramatic change in attendees’ goals for technology. Before, our clients were looking for tools they could pass through to shoppers, B2B2C. But it’s hard to quantify the ROI on that. Now they’re looking for data that they can use to make better decisions about their business, whether that is site selection for a retailer, an owner/manager finding the right space for the right retailer to add to a property portfolio, or for marketing, as owners can target shoppers based on past visits to a property.”

Keep checking back with for more from experts in the next few days as we fully cover the RECon 2019 event, with thoughts not only from attendees and panelists, but coverage of sessions, parties and more. And check out some related stories below.

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