5 Shopping Center Trades that Went Through During COVID-19

Excerpted from ICSC (June 17, 2020)

Verdi River Way bought The Shoppes At Terra Bella (pictured at top) — a new-construction, 16,057-square-foot retail strip — for $7.6 million. “We were able to attract an all-cash investor who was able to see the future beyond COVID-19 and a return to normalcy,” said Ryan Derriman, director for Franklin Street, which represented the seller. “They understood the tenants were less effected by the virus, as opposed to sit-down casual dining restaurants or big-box retailers.

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New Retail Tech, Brands and Concepts Emerge at ICSC RECon 2019

The retail real estate market’s leading players gathered in Las Vegas recently for their biggest event of the year, the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon or ICSC RECon 2019. RECon is the global convention for the shopping center industry. Here are some of the most talked about trends that I noticed at this year’s show.

Brick-and-Mortar vs. Online Retail Sites
Physical stores are playing a larger role in the success of online brands and their sales. This shift in the marketplace signals that traditional retail is not dying, it’s evolving – retailers must continually evolve and grow to stay competitive. For example, new technologies like Google Images and Pinterest Lens let shoppers send an image of a product found online, so that they can quickly locate the item when visiting the physical stores. These apps help you easily access and purchase goods in the manner best suited for your needs.  Retailers that adapt to this trend will have larger product exposure and greater ability to convert consumer traffic into sales. 

Amazon’s partnership with in-store pickups and Warby Parker’s push to open storefronts nationwide are two examples of online brands seeing the advantage of adding a brick-and-mortar element. The ICSC reports that sales drop 77% when an online brand closes a physical location, while purchases increase 37% when an online retailer opens a new brick-and-mortar store.

Store Closings
The ongoing trend of big box store closings still offers opportunity for developers and owners with a potential upside.  The reason is because it creates an opportunity for landlords to change the footprint of a center. Many shopping center owners will take one large empty space and create 2-3 new spaces, which means bringing additional retailers to a center’s merchandise mix and often provides an increased opportunity for rent growth. Some of the closings, such as Dress Barn’s recent announcement, should result in a stronger parent company and an ability to focus on more profitable and desirable brand concepts of the chain.

Strategic Growth
Both retailers and owners/developers are being more strategic in their growth plans.  There is a definite move to understand market conditions on a deeper level, i.e. forecast not just residential growth, but also shifts in traffic flows. For example, which area will be downtown’s next high-growth center or new gentrification zone?  Is there a new sports venue coming that will create a new retail node in an existing shopping area, and hence a corresponding shift in the consumer traffic pattern?  

Industry players are looking closer at the profitability of a store and project – increasing costs are making the partnership with contractors more important.  In addition, with the growth of mixed-use projects, developers are finding the need to create strong partnerships with other developers and/or contractors that specialize in hotels, office and multifamily.  Vetting of potential partners and contractors is also more critical than ever.

Part of this strategic planning involves careful monitoring of any trouble spots such as a potential decline in consumer spending, at-risk retailers, and a pending shakeout in the grocer segment.  This approach also requires an awareness that mixed-use is not the solution to every dark box or mall.  “Mixed-use” is still a key buzzword for now, but it’s not always the right answer. Overall, both retailers and developers/owners are being more discerning in their real estate decisions.

Expanding Brands
Here are three exciting new brands and concepts to watch out for in 2019.

Fourpost –  Fourpost is built around the concept of lowering the barrier to entry for brands when opening brick-and-mortar stores.  Their store is more a community that features not only rotating selections of products, but also embraces a family-friendly environment that offers educational programming, networking and workshops designed to inspire engagement and discovery.  Fourpost’s first location opened in Minnesota’s Mall of America and they have others planned for 2019.

Foxtrot Delivery Market – a new “experiential” retail concept that sets out to be the new C-store of the future, i.e. the corner store for a one-stop spot in the neighborhood.  Foxtrot is both a café and market that is curated with everyday essentials.  Consumers can shop via their app, stop in-store to pick up, or have items delivered within the hour.  

Politan Row and Bar Politan – This restaurant group is a sister concept to Politan Group’s flagship food hall, St. Roch Market in New Orleans, and is one to watch in the category of food halls.  They seem to have hit on a successful mix of local chefs, design and connecting the culinary curious consumer to a communal that inspires sharing, community and conversation in addition to food.  Currently, they have food halls in New Orleans, Miami and Chicago, along with offering data management software and analytics tools specifically for the growing food hall segment of the restaurant industry.

Whitney Butler is director of retail leasing at Franklin Street, where she specializes in retail landlord representation across Jacksonville and throughout North Florida and South Georgia, as well as, assisting in the expansion of local, regional and national retailers. She can be reached at 904.271.4120 or


Deals, networking & big players: How this Southwest flight became a real estate who’s who

Excerpted from Orlando Business Journal story.

There’s a dark joke in Central Florida real estate circles that if a Southwest flight to Las Vegas goes down in late May, then chances are many people in Orlando’s retail brokerage community are dead.

Each year, dozens of people in Orlando retail real estate board a flight to Sin City for the annual International Council of Shopping Centers’ conference, which runs May 19-22. It’s billed as the largest global gathering of retail real estate professionals with roughly 30,000 attendees already signed up this year for the conference, according to its website.

And the travel itself has become a networking tradition in Central Florida’s chatty real estate community, where brokers and developers meet up, discuss deals and schedule social events for the week.

Estimates vary, but real estate sources say perhaps half of the airplane cabin headed to Vegas is filled with Orlando’s retail real estate community. “I always wonder if there was anyone on the flight who wasn’t in retail,” said Terrence Hart, a senior director with the Orlando office of Tampa-based commercial real estate agency Franklin Street.

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Franklin Street Hires New Senior Director of Retail Landlord Leasing

Franklin Street has brought in shopping center industry expert Mariah Klein to help lead its retail landlord services division as senior director. 

At Franklin Street, Klein will utilize her 21 years of experience to provide property and location analysis, marketing and leasing strategies, and negotiation services for retail property owners in Atlanta and across the southeast. 

Klein comes to Franklin Street from Genesis Real Estate Advisers, where she managed the leasing, renewal and expansion activity for the company’s portfolio of existing properties as director of leasing. 

She also previously served as senior vice president of leasing at southeast retail developer Ben Carter Properties, and as a leasing representative with Ben Carter properties predecessor, CNM Associates. 

A former International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Georgia state director, Klein holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is a licensed real estate broker in Georgia and Florida.


Mariah Klein Joins Franklin Street as Senior Director of Retail Landlord Leasing

Franklin Street, a full-service commercial real estate firm, announced today that Mariah Klein has joined the company’s Retail Landlord Services division as senior director.  In this role, Klein will focus on property and location analysis, marketing and leasing strategy, and negotiation services for retail property owners in Atlanta and across the southeast. She is a former International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Georgia state director with over 21 years of professional retail leasing experience.

“Mariah brings extensive experience and a proven track record in research, analysis, tenant qualification and client relationships,” said Kurt Keaton, president of real estate services and management services for Franklin Street. “She is a leading shopping center industry expert who will play a significant role in furthering Franklin Street’s strategic growth.”

Most recently, Klein served as director of leasing at Genesis Real Estate Advisers, where she managed the leasing, renewal and expansion activity for the company’s portfolio of existing properties. In addition, she assisted in generating and leasing new development projects at Genesis. Previously, Klein was senior vice president of leasing for Ben Carter Properties, one of the largest retail developers in the southeastern U.S. Klein was also a leasing representative for CNM Associates, a predecessor firm of Ben Carter Properties, where she was responsible for a retail portfolio of more than 1.5 million square feet of rentable area. 

“I am very excited to join the Franklin Street team,” said Klein. “Franklin Street has earned a reputation as a highly entrepreneurial firm with a top brand name and a strong company culture. I was impressed by the talented and passionate people that I have already met in the company. I am pleased to be part of a firm that offers such endless opportunities for personal and professional growth.”
“We look forward to Mariah becoming part of our Atlanta office and partnering with the landlord leasing team to build our business,” said Cary Beale, senior vice president of Franklin Street’s Retail Landlord Services division. “Having played key leadership roles with various major industry firms throughout her career, I am confident that she will deliver exceptional services for our clients as well.”

Klein earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a licensed real estate broker in Georgia and Florida and is a licensed salesperson in South Carolina. An active voice for the commercial real estate industry, Klein is an active member of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) and the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). She served as ICSC Georgia State Director from May 2012 through May 2015, Co-chair of the 2015 Southeast ICSC Program and Chair of the 2016 Southeast ICSC Program.

About Franklin Street: Celebrating more than 10 years in the business, Franklin Street is a family of full-service commercial real estate companies focused on delivering value-add solutions to meet the evolving needs of clients. Through a collaborative philosophy of leveraging the resources, expertise and experience of each of its divisions – Real Estate, Capital, Insurance, Property Management and Project Management – Franklin Street offers unmatched value and optimal solutions for clients nationwide. Learn more about Franklin Street at 


Change Agents – 2017 ICSC Florida conference

Excerpted from Business Observer article.

Is traditional retail dead? On life support? Crumbling under the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut that is Amazon?

Not according to experts and participants at this year’s International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) annual Florida confab, in Orlando.

Instead, they argue that change is a constant force in retail and has always been, and that it is a force that can be harnessed and used to one’s advantage.

But while the retail industry may be facing headwinds, the ICSC conference appeared in full swing.

Katy Welsh, a Colliers International senior vice president who chaired the group’s program planning committee, says attendance hit a record 5,000 last month, up from 4,600 in 2016.

The number of exhibitors and retailers set records, too.

“Our numbers are back to pre-recession levels of 2007 and 2008,” Welsh says.

Greg Matus, a senior vice president of investment sales with Tampa-based brokerage firm Franklin Street, agrees.

“I’ve been here for the past 10 years, and this is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, show I have ever seen,” he says. “It reminds me a lot of the peak of the last cycle. There’s more capital chasing deals, there are a lot of deals being done on the floor here, and retailers are expanding and there are a lot of new companies out there.”

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Adding Value

The text below is excerpted from “A Message from the President” By ICSC President and CEO Tom McGee.

This vitality in our industry is reflected at RECon, with its increasingly diverse variety of exhibitors. Each year we see innovative new tenants and new technologies designed to make centers more entertaining, convenient, and efficient. Municipalities and other public agencies also recognize the importance of RECon, eager as they are to attract developments that will make their communities more vibrant and prosperous.

All of this activity does not get the attention it deserves as media often focus more on the challenges facing our industry, and less on the way we are meeting those challenges. It is worth noting that, for all of the news about retail closings, the national retail occupancy rate actually rose slightly last year, to 95 percent by December, according to national commercial real estate research and services firm Franklin Street.

Our industry is continuing to evolve to meet new market trends, as owners revitalize and reinvent their properties with new tenants, uses and technology. And that is something to celebrate.


What Forward-Thinking Retail Developers Are Talking About Right Now

ATLANTA— From development trends to cap rates to land concerns, forward-thinking developers are, well, thinking ahead to 2017 and beyond. Although technology is a big concern in the industry, that’s only one of many. caught up with Jim Ivie, a Franklin Street director specializing in tenant representation and site selection for clients throughout Georgia and the Southeast, to get his take on these topics in part two of this exclusive interview. You can still read part one: This German Discounter Is Expanding Rapidly And Other ICSC Takeaways.

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This German Discounter Is Expanding Rapidly And Other ICSC Takeaways

ATLANTA—The dust has settled on ICSC Southeast and the takeaways are rolling in. The bottom line: mass expansions and the tech effect.

Jim Ivie, director specializing in tenant representation and site selection for clients throughout Georgia and the Southeast, attended the event. caught up with him to talk about his views on what came out of the event in part one of this exclusive interview. What was the crowd and tone like at ICSC Southeast?

Ivie: At ICSC Southeast this year there was a large turnout for the show with an increasing presence of landlords and developers. Many retailers seemed to skip this year’s show as their pipeline is full and they already have tons of deals in the works.

Take for example Lidl, the German-headquartered global discount supermarket chain that is targeting 3,000-square-foot freestanding locations along the East Coast for expansion. The company previously announced plans to open 800 stores by 2018, and last month raised that to 1,000 stores. This is just one of many retailers who are planning huge expansions during the next couple of years. What effect is technology having on retail?

Ivie: Technology has always impacted retail in various ways. This year, we saw apps like Uber Eats are creating an entirely new omni-channel approach to restaurants. Uber Eats allows people to order food from restaurants, local favorites, chains and hot new chef-driven concepts alike, from the convenience of their own home or to their place of work.

Technology won’t replace experiences, but instead will enhance it in select categories. For example, technology and traditional apparel retailers are still concerned about the showrooming effect and people using in-store shopping as a means to research brands, sizes, et cetera, before buying in an app or online. What remains to be seen is how it will impact sales long-term.

Are chain restaurants getting squeezed out? Read one opinion in my recent column.

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Which Retail Category Will Be Most Impacted By E-Commerce?

LAS VEGAS—Brick-and-mortar fashion is the largest at-risk category that’s been impacted by e-commerce and that will continue for the short term. Those thoughts are according to Emil Gullia, senior director of Franklin Street’s Atlanta office. was in attendance Monday afternoon at the firm’s ICSC RECon 2016 reception. Gullia tells us that “Fashion retailers are being challenged to find more creative ways to remain relevant beyond that first sale whereby the consumer became comfortable enough with the fashion or value proposition that they need to go back to the store.”

In addition, he says, the wider acceptance of more casual and performance wear (not just yoga clothes) is allowing consumers to spend more time online. The output is more e-commerce sales, but far more returns too.”

He continues that “the return rate on e-commerce soft line sales far, far exceeds those of in-store purchases.” This, he adds, creates more handling, technological resources, and logistical efficiencies “to get that product back to a sale worthy condition, while in season, long after it has seen its second stop at a distribution center. This has compressed margins and expanded the risk in capital deployment for these retailers. The irony to this is next to food; this is the most sought after sector in mixed-use projects.”

At this year’s ICSC RECon event, he tells, tech-driven solutions will have a larger presence. “These platforms are trying to engage all types of real estate professionals to help them make smarter decisions, with more information than has ever been available in the past,” he says. “Real estate professionals are far more willing to listen. Compatibility, usability, more intuitive programming and decreased costs allow for this acceptance.”

One of the many examples of how this technology is already being accepted, he says, is shown by “landlords hiring data and technology resources to better to understand the relevance, perceived longevity and financial health of retailers in the early stages of marketing and before signing leases. Developers and retailers alike are relying on these solutions more frequently to perform analysis to determine what they don’t know about a market, but should.”

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