Highlights from the ICSC Florida Conference

BLOGGER COMMENT: Yesterday I attended the Florida ICSC Conference in Orlando, FL.  I spent time with developers & investors that need access to capital as well as sources of capital. Deals are still getting done, but with more equity required than in previous years. See below for a great overview on the show from the Florida Real Estate Journal.

KISSIMMEE – Some 3,300 commercial real estate professionals attended the International Council of Shopping Centers’ 2009 Florida Conference yesterday and today at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center.

Here are some highlights from the event:

– A gap persists between buyers and sellers of commercial property, and investors need to manage their yield expectations, said Trish Blasi of Calamar Enterprises in Aventura. Not all commercial property owners are in financial trouble, she said, as a good deal of interest-only debt has yet to mature.

– Commercial real estate will be under stress for another two to three years, with rising vacancies and falling rental rates, said Manny De Zarraga of Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP, but new buyers could include foreign players and recapitalized domestic REITs.

– Whether the loan on your property has been securitized or is in a portfolio somewhere, the keys to a restructuring or a workout are constant communication with the lender/servicer, developing your own plan to fix things, and a willingness to contribute money to the solution, said a panel of experts on the subject.

– Greg Sembler, CEO of The Sembler Company, told Florida Real Estate Journal he is most concerned about the dramatic fall in liquidity for commercial real estate financing. Until that returns, he said, the company will emphasize leasing, management and single-tenant development.

– Local tenants will be an important driver in restoring occupancy to retail centers, Mike Longmore, senior VP with Jones Lang LaSalle, told Florida Real Estate Journal. Based on JLL’s latest national survey, Longmore said he expects a U-shaped economic recovery with perhaps a very protracted bottom.