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We're been cruising the show floor at ICSC in NYC and run into quite a few Baltimore friends (luckily we didn't owe any of them money). Hot topic: franchisors doing the heavy lifting of site selection andfinancing.
Bryce Turner, Trish Palumbo, Mike Rollinson, and Terry Richardson at NY Hilton on Dec. 5, 2011
We snapped Brown Craig Turner's Bryce Turner, Metropolitan Management's Trish Palumbo, BCT's Mike Rollison, and Petrie Ross Ventures prez Terry Richardson. Trish tells us some national franchisors are interested in assessing and approving her sitesand then working with her to bring in the franchisees. Bryce says the mood is upbeat and Black Friday was a success, but there are three trends driving the market: Value-oriented retailers are doing best,urban infill and transit-oriented are stronger than suburban, and the lobbying effort to stop the Internet tax holiday is gaining momentum.

Tom Maddux at NY Hilton on Dec. 5, 2011
KLNB Retail's Tom Maddux gives us his best tough-guy broker look.He says finding grocery or box anchors is relatively easy, andfranchisees are having some luck finding financing because of their association with their brands. It's the totally independent retailers that round out a shopping center that can't always find the funds.
Constant Friendship Shopping Center in Abingdon, MD
He says retailers like Nordstrom Rack, T.J.Maxx, and HHGregg are fitting nicely into the 30k SF-ish footprints left behind by the Circuit City, Linens 'n Things, and Borders closings and can get rents 30% lower than the retailers they replaced. He recently repped T.J.Maxxin a lease in Columbia Crossing to replace Toys "R" Us. (It had combined with a Babies "R" Us, along with REI, to replace a defunct Home Depot Expo.) Similarly, he repped HomeGoods in a lease in an old grocery store spot in Abingdon's Constant Friendship Shopping Center (above), across from a newer Wegmans. Tom also tells us home furnishings stores are doing well. Pier 1, which he reps, is looking for space again.
Freddie Lewis Archer, Michael Ewing, Amy Rice, Howard Riker, Jason Jacobson at NY Hilton on Dec. 5, 2011
We snapped Lewis Real Estate Services' Freddie Lewis Archer, Williams Jackson Ewing's Michael Ewing, Hines' Amy Rice, Avenue A's Nate Fishkin, Hines' Howard Riker, and Archstone'sJason Jacobson. Michael tells us his firm has wrapped up leasing at 1 East Pratt, one of the two spots in Bozzuto's Fitzgerald apartments, and Belvedere Square. OK, so the company leased that last one up twice, once in '85 and again in '05. Tom mentions that lots has changed in Belvedere Square, where he used to lunch in the basement cafetaria of Hochschild Kohn with his grandmother. Michael tells us it was Baltimore's first department store outside the city.
Taylor Chess, Marc Menick, Robert Frischman, and Laurie Mazzotta
We also snapped an Eastern Seaboard pow wow: Peterson's Taylor Chess and Marc Menick (National Harbor leasing), JDF Realty'sRobert Frischman (based in NY), and Retail Strategies prez Laurie Mazzotta (based in Baltimore). But we couldn't get them to spill any mid-negotiation secrets. Can't blame them being distracted by such a great view.