Last month, Mayor Bob Stefanik and Community Development Director Tom Jordan were in Las Vegas, as they have for several years in May, attending a conference for retail and restaurants. The conference, the Global Retail Real Estate Convention (RECon), took place from May 19 to 22, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The two attended the event in the hopes of drumming up business for several retail areas in the city.
A portion of the trip is made possible through the North Royalton Chamber of Commerce, who has been subsidizing the cost of entry to the conference for about eight years. “The City of North Royalton appreciates the partnership we have with the Chamber of Commerce,” said Stefanik. “The valuable information and networking with local and regional real estate professionals gives us a better understanding of future retail and commercial development trends.” Chamber President Aldo Filippelli stated that “we are delighted to work together with the City of North Royalton to help promote and attract businesses to our community by underwriting the trip to Las Vegas. The intent of this convention is to bring back new ideas and to create new business relationships for the benefit of our city economic growth.”
An annual event, RECon is “the global convention for the shopping center industry and provides networking, deal making and educational opportunities for retail real estate professionals from around the world,” according to event officials. They boast over 30,000 people in attendance, 700 delegates and many exhibitors. Among the list of this year’s exhibitors included development firms, retailers and colleges. RECon is the largest industry convention. It allows visitors to meet retailers, see the latest products and services, discuss new or existing leases, or attend educational seminars.
“I was surprised to see how busy it was,” said Jordan. “They say retail is down.” He did say, though, that the way business was handled in the past conferences is different than how it is done now. Before, large developers, like Forest City, would show models of different malls across the country. They would show the models and the retailers and restaurant chains would come and choose what spaces they wanted in the various cities. “Every retailer would go and choose,” he said. Now there would be bankers, brokers and cities, trying to promote areas where they would like to place these malls.” Jordan said it looks like the big malls are not as popular. Now strip centers and stand alone establishments are gaining popularity.
Although the two attend to seek opportunities for many areas of the city, they continue to focus on the Timber Ridge Plaza, which is located at the corner of York and Sprague Roads. Stefanik has been concerned about the vacant retail space for many years. A major portion of the plaza, where various grocery stores once were located, has lain vacant for many years. “We got several contracts for Timber Ridge,” said Stefanik. Two good leads have been in contact already.
One other area of focus is the town center district, which starts at Rt. 82 and State Road and heads north on State Road. Stefanik said they also met with the developer of Dollar Tree, who is looking to possibly put a store in North Royalton.
Although many residents would like to see some chain restaurants come to town, Stefanik said that probably will not happen. “We don’t generate a lot of traffic at noon and we are not close enough to an interstate, he explained. Those are the two main things that chains require. He thinks North Royalton could use another grocery store. It all comes down to marketing, he said.
“It’s about putting together people who can make decisions to make things happen,” said Stefanik.
Contributing Writer