Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

ICSC Recap: Things Are Looking Up


This week, I attended 2013 RECon Las Vegas, or  the “ICSC” as it is commonly called. It was an impactful 4 days, with 30,000 of my closest friends from around the country and beyond. Through listening, conversation and observing behavior, here are my quick take aways from this year’s event:

  • In years past, the conference has been 100% retail, but recently we’re seeing more mixed-use as retail.  Commercial and residential are becoming more family.
  • Financing for projects continues to improve even in secondary and tertiary markets. Lenders seem to be looking past “quantitative basics” in decision making more than in the recent past. The longevity of the income stream is more important and viable long term.
  • Brick-and-mortar continues to show resilience, meeting Internet shopping head on. This is especially prevalent where a physical store can offer “human experience” that cannot be replicated on the screen.
  • While I saw a fair amount of new projects in urban markets with smaller footprints, I believe that secondary and tertiary markets are not far behind.
  • For the first time in several years, the asking rents being quoted are finally rising across property types.

As I was leaving the show  this year, having seen all I had seen, I had a couple of personal wishes. I hope that we will never reach such highs in the credit markets ever again, because they helped create the devastation and reset of the last 5 years. Secondly, as an industry, I hope that we have learned some permanent good lessons about long term value use, the environment and doing more with less. There is nothing we can do about the former, but a lot we can do about the latter.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.