I was looking through my notes from the recent International Council of Shopping Centers national convention. This convention is the annual "deal-making" event, where relationships with the kind of new retailers we want to attract to the City are built. The ICSC is a very big deal, with more than 61,000 retailers and retail developer members - and over 42,000 of them attend the national convention, occupying 1.8 million feet in convention floor space.
Rodney Crim, Pat Bannister and I spent a lot of time before we left working out our strategy to make the most of the trip. We agreed that our approach would be to help stabilize and attract opportunities to existing City retail centers. And, of course, we planned to keep our eyes open for developers interested in new opportunities here.
It worked. I am confident that our ICSC contacts - some new, some old, but all very important - will bear fruit. There is a great group of retail developers here in the region and I am extremely pleased that we were able to work together to pitch the City of St. Louis.
Some observations:The City is attracting very positive attention from national retailers these days, including name-brand electronics retailers and restaurants. Many developers told me how helpful the positive national media attention about St. Louis development activity (i.e. USA Today article, NPR, etc.) has been for them in discussions with national retailers.The City is also attracting very positive attention from national retail developers. Kimco is very impressed with the performance of Gravois Plaza; General Growth is interested in the City; and Magic Johnson’s Johnson Development Company is also now interested in City opportunities.There’s still hope for an IKEA at a City location.Rodney has been elevated to the role of Central Region Division Alliance ICSC Officer; Patrick Hanlon has been added to the local ICSC Next Generation committee; and Michael Roberts was appointed to the ICSC Board of TrusteesThe Roberts brothers are planning a major mixed-use development at Kingshighway and Delmar and are in serious discussions with a major partner. At the request of several local developers, including Pace and Koman, I discussed several specific City sites with prospective tenants.I appeared on a Town Hall-type panel moderated by MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson where, along with mayors from Atlanta, Baltimore and Boston, I told everyone what a great but unappreciated market we have in the City for new retail. I met the national retail broker who is working with both the Bottle District and McGowan-Walsh. I found them very excited about downtown.