ReCon Wrapup: Serious Dealmaking Marks Lower-Key Event

As the 2008 edition of ReCon, the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual convention, wound to a close yesterday in Las Vegas, attendees reported something different in the air this week. As in previous years, the world’s largest real estate convention featured close to 50,000 attendees, painstakingly crafted multi-million-dollar booths, and plenty of after-hours receptions. But the state of retail sector and the economy in general apparently made brokers, developers, retailers and other stakeholders cut to the chase even more quickly than in previous years. “It’s not just fluff. People aren’t meeting just to talk,” said Greg Maloney, president & CEO of retail for Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. During the convention’s peak hours on Monday and Tuesday, many booths seemed to overflow with visitors waiting for appointments to discuss deals, and navigating the Las Vegas Convention Center’s lobby and hallways required as much agility as in previous years. A senior executive for Developers Diversified Realty told CPN on Tuesday that the number of appointments here jumped from 1,200 last year to about 1,400 this year. Whether it was because of record heat or economic worries, some long-time convention attendees reported a somewhat less vibrant atmosphere than in previous years. Still, many people liked what they heard. “The general tone has been positive, and that’s been a pleasant surprise,” said Naveen Jaggi, senior managing director and national head of tenant services for CB Richard Ellis Inc.’s retail group. “The mood has been cautiously optimistic; (our visitors) see this as a very short and shallow correction in the marketplace.” As always, the proof will be in the pudding. As attendees return home and get back to the office, the critical task will be to build on the contacts made in Las Vegas, said Terry Brown, CEO of the developer Edens & Avant. “The important days are the next 10 days,” Brown explained. “You have about 10 days to get momentum from meetings, to get site plans out, to get proposals out.”