LAS VEGAS-The Leasing Mall portion of the Spring Convention of the International Council of Shopping Centers, now under way, has been sold out for years, and the exhibitors’ waiting list has continued to grow. The Leasing Mall–and several of the convention’s other features–are about to change dramatically.ICSC officials announced this weekend that the Leasing Mall will undergo an expansion of nearly 50% when the 2007 version opens for business. Currently occupying the North and Center halls of the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center, the show will be expanded to include two upper halls of the center’s newer South Hall. According to details released by ICSC officials, the show’s gross space will jump from one million to 1.5 million sf, and the net floor space will go from 650,000 to approximately 950,000 sf.”The new space will enable us to accommodate those companies that have been asking for more space,” explains Phyllis Peterson, director of leasing and dealmaking for ICSC, who has managed the Leasing Mall for the past 17 years. “We’ll also be able to bring the leasing suites that have occupied space on the mezzanine level of the convention center to the main floor. And we’ll also be able to accommodate first-time exhibitors.”To anchor the new space and draw traffic to the South Hall, which is the most distant portion of the convention center and connected to the rest of the facility by a skywalk over Desert Inn Rd., ICSC officials have drawn up a plan to relocate all retail exhibitors to the building. “Retailers are a destination for attendees,” Peterson says. “They will be a strong anchor.”When we began to consider the expansion, we visited several associations that were full-facility users of the center,” she says. “They advised us that to get even traffic flow throughout the three halls, we needed to put our strongest draw in the South Hall.”To co-anchor the new space, ICSC is also looking to move some of its biggest space users from the developer/owner side over as well. “We’re looking at the top 25 space users to gauge their requirements and needs,” she says, adding that factors like number of years in the Leasing Mall, number of members from the company and a company’s volunteerism could be determining factors.The expansion will have an overflow effect on the entire event. The existing space in the Center Hall will be anchored by a new finance court, where banks and other lenders will occupy space. The Trade Expo, a separate vendors’ show that adjoins the Leasing Mall in the Center Hall will be expanded by about 30%, as will the Public Sector Place, a section devoted to municipal exhibitors in the North Hall. Finally, the expansion will allow ICSC to reintroduce a food court and several other networking lounges that, once part of the show, were given over to exhibition space several years ago.And several new concepts will be introduced in the new South Hall space. One will be an interactive information zone, called I Zone, where attendees will have computer access to information on all exhibitors. Another will be a section of time-share conference cubes for attendees who don’t require a booth for the entire three-day event.Finally, the distance from the farthest point of the Las Vegas Hilton, which adjoins the convention center and is the site of the convention program, to the farthest point of the South Hall is three-quarters of a mile. “To help attendees stay on schedule with appointments, we’re going to have a trolley system that will navigate the convention center campus,” Peterson says.”ICSC is very excited about the expansion,” she concludes. “We have not been able to acquire additional square footage at the convention center since 1999.”

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