Retail investors have flocked to Whistler, B.C., for the ICSC conference and tradeshow.
Kyle Tomlin, ICSC’s Canadian director, said on LinkedIn that the event, slated to run from Sunday to Tuesday, has attracted 2,000 attendees to the mountain village. ICSC is the acronym for the International Council of Shopping Centres.
The group prefers to go by the acronym while trying to reshape the retail real estate sector as a developer of marketplaces in which people shop, dine, live, work, play and gather.
This year’s version of ICSC Whistler comes as the industry is emerging from years of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, market uncertainty and effects of e-commerce on brick-and-mortar shopping centres.
Monday’s conference portion of the event will begin with a session about the effects of artificial intelligence on the sector, conducted by Radhika Dirks, CEO and co-founder of XLABS and RIBO. The other two sessions will discuss the future of retail in Canada’s largest city centres and reinventing the store experience.
Cathal O’Connor, president and CEO of Toronto-based Salthill Capital, is looking forward to getting many deals done, as frequently happens at the event.
“Whistler is on the map as one of the great leasing events in North America for retailers,” he said in an interview with Connect.
O’Connor also aims to learn about things to expect from the market in 2024.
“On the retail leasing side, I’m looking for how retailers are feeling about the next year,” he said. “What’s hot and what’s not in terms of retail, whether it’s fashion or food and experiential services? What new tenants are in town?
“And I’m looking forward to talking to Salthill’s leasing team as the event continues. I will want to know what their leasing volumes are, and whether or not they are as good as last year.
“On the capital side, the event will be attended by real estate brokers and owners, and it’ll be interesting to chat about what they see as the opportunities and risks for the next 12 months.”
The show is a great opportunity to obtain and share information with industry peers, he added.
O’Connor is particularly looking forward to sharing news about Salthill. During the past year, the company has acquired many grocery store-anchored sites. In addition, George Buckles, formerly co-head of 20 Vic, has joined Salthill as a principal and is focusing on expanding its enclosed mall and master planning business.
In July 2023, the firm rebranded to Salthill from Strathallen Capital, and it is redeveloping Pickering Town Centre in the Greater Toronto Area with its partners CentreCourt and Cowie Capital. A total of 6,000 condominium units are to be built adjacent to the existing mall.
“It’s an opportunity for us to introduce that [project] to retailers across Canada,” said O’Connor.
Monte Stewart serves as Content Director - Canada for Connect Commercial Real Estate.
Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monte provides daily news coverage of major Canadian commercial real estate markets, including Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. He has written about the real estate sector for various media outlets and Avison Young since the early 2000s.
In addition, he has covered sports, general news and business for several leading wire services and publications, including The Canadian Press, The Associated Press, The Calgary Herald, The Globe and Mail, Research Money, The Daily Oil Bulletin, Natural Gas World and The Toronto Star.
Monte is active in his community as a youth basketball coach and raises funds for such charitable causes as Movember.