Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Leaving Las Vegas–RECON 2016

I spent this week at ICSC‘s RECON, the gold standard annual convention for the bricks and mortar component of the retail industry. This year marked the event’s 3oth anniversary in Las Vegas.

Retail feels like an old friend to me. For a decade or two when we first started building, retail construction was our mainstay. During that time, we also learned the smoke and mirrors that come into play at times. Our expertise has widened over the years, and now I’d say our annual volume is about 50% retail. It’s still part of the mix for sure.

What I took away from RECON 2016:

  • General optimism for the future of retail. Then again, with the Internet influence, sometimes I feel like we are rearranging the chairs. That’s okay, anytime transactions are taking place.
  • Sinking anchors. Five years ago, there were five major anchors nationally for open air centers. Now we are about down to one.
  • Urban densification. This new kid on the block will require new a skillset for the tenants, designers, developers and building contractors alike. Lots of lessons to be learned.
  • Mixed-use is more legitimate. A few years ago it seemed that “mixed-use” was a fashion statement. Based on residential trends, it’s becoming the real deal. Mixed-use is more expensive residential, but when people can afford it, there’s a desire to be “in the now.”

Beyond business, I like that this convention gives me a chance to reconnect with longtime friends I have made over the years. Looking back on the week, there were some solid opportunities. Seems with most things, they always tend to come in bunches.


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Merrill Stewart Jr.

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