Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Good Times Developing

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Good Times Developing

Article excerpt

Retail real estate brokers and leasing agents -- including representatives of the American Dream project in the Meadowlands -- sounded optimistic about filling empty and prospective store spaces Monday as the industry gathered in New York City for an annual dealmaking conference.

Brokers said they are seeing pre-recession levels of leasing activity, and developers of North Jersey properties said they are encouraged by the amount of interest they are seeing in their available retail spaces.

"Things are certainly better than they were a few years ago," said George Jacobs, president of development firm Jacobs Enterprises of Clifton. He said the firm's Clifton and Ridgewood retail properties are 100 percent leased and he is seeing strong interest in new urban mixed-use developments in Newark and Bloomfield. The firm and its partners broke ground on a retail and residential project in Bloomfield on Monday.

Jacobs and more than 7,500 retail real estate professionals gathered at the Hilton New York hotel Monday for the two-day conference hosted by the International Council of Shopping Centers. Attendance at the conference increased about 15 percent this year, compared with 2012.

Agents for one of the rare mega-malls under way, the American Dream, were at the conference to meet with prospective tenants. The project's leasing team was conducting meetings throughout the day Monday in a room at an adjacent hotel.

Don Ghermezian, president of Triple Five, the developer of American Dream, said during a break in meetings that the mall is attracting a lot of leasing interest, although the company is not yet able to announce tenants. "We have eight or nine leasing agents talking to us right now" he said, gesturing toward the crowded meeting room.

Michael Kercheval, president and chief executive of the shopping center council, said attendance at the New York conference usually is a barometer for the health of the retail real estate industry. …

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