More people register for meeting of retailers and developers

Posted on July 24, 2012

After a long, dry spell for new retail projects in metro Detroit, local developers gather next week in Dearborn with a group of retailers looking to open new stores again.

The International Council of Shopping Centers hosts its annual Idea Exchange meeting Thursday, and organizers say registration is up this year.

“Our goal is to break the 400 mark for attendees this year,” said Doug Brown, director of development for ASTI Environmental in Brighton, who is co-organizing the event.

That’s below the all-time high of 660 attendees in 2007, but up from the 327 who attended last year.

The event runs 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and is at a new venue — The Henry (former Ritz Carlton) — this year after several years in Novi.

Members and affiliates from various groups, such as the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Municipal League, pay $170. Nonmembers pay $365.

Brown said retailers who have signed up to tell developers what kinds of spaces they need to expand include Art Van Furniture, TJX Companies, Emagine Theaters, Tropical Smoothie, McDonalds, the Gap and Hungry Howie. They’ll participate in a retail runway event.

“This is the one event where there is no one in the hallways, the cell phones are off and everyone is in that room,” Brown said. “These people get mobbed the second they are done. This is just mad deal-making.”

Attendees will also hear from a number of prominent speakers in the retail development arena including Paul Glantz from Emagine Theaters, Matt Cullen of Rock Ventures, Billy Gershenson from Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust and Jim Stokas, Stokas Bieri Real Estate.

Dave Bolen, president and CEO of Pet Supplies Plus in Farmington Hills, will give a keynote speech at 1 p.m.

By: Greta Guest, The Detroit Free Press