Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Finding Homes for Retailers

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Finding Homes for Retailers

Article excerpt

Back when most of its New Jersey deals involved retailers such as Target or Best Buy landing multi-acre sites for big-box stores, Ripco Real Estate Corp. was able to run its New Jersey business out of its Long Island headquarters.

But as the retail real estate business has changed to one of finding creative uses for existing spaces, Todd Cooper, co-founder of Ripco, decided he needed to establish a North Jersey beachhead.

"With the midsize to small properties, you really need boots on the ground," Cooper said, not only to find properties, but to show the spaces to retail clients. "It's hard to do that when you are over the bridge," he said.

Ripco, a longtime power player in retail real estate on Long Island and in Westchester and Manhattan, opened an office in Lyndhurst in the summer of 2013. Over the past year, that office has increased Ripco's presence in North Jersey, planting the firm's red "For Lease" signs, with Ripco's mascot, Ripper, a dog in a pointer stance, at some of the most challenging retail vacancies in the region.

Ripco has helped land tenants or buyers for high-profile, long- term retail vacancies in Paramus, including the former Expo by Home Depot and the shuttered Fortunoff store, both of which had been without a permanent tenant for five years.

Ripco also scored the leasing coup of putting electric-car company Tesla in another long-vacant space, the former Sixth Avenue Electronics store on Route 17 in Paramus.

Over the past 12 months, the Ripco New Jersey office has handled eight transactions involving 218,633 square feet on Route 17, and has more than 100,000 square feet in lease negotiations currently.

The real estate company on Monday announced its latest leasing job, finding tenants for a redevelopment project in Midland Park. Accordia Realty Ventures of Fairfield is turning Godwin Plaza into The Shoppes of Godwin, and has hired Ripco to lease the property.

In part, Ripco is benefiting from being in the right place at the right time. It launched its push in North Jersey as the economy was improving, retailers were expanding again and retail vacancies were declining.

But the firm's success also has been the result of its ability to leverage its contacts with New York and national property owners and retail chains, and its investments in research and marketing services that allow it to provide prospective tenants with demographic and sales information, and videos and aerial views of sites.

When Ripco was founded in 1991, Cooper said, retailers did their own research about potential locations. "Then it changed, and we had to become a research company. If you're a children's shoe store, for example, we can show you why this market is so strong, how many sales are being done in the marketplace," he said. "That information is available, but you have to buy it, and you have to update it, and you have to be able to map it out. …

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