ICSC Las Vegas 2022: Land Development Themes and Opportunities

09 June, 2022

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, commercial real estate owners, developers, retailers, and consultants recently gathered in Las Vegas for Innovative Commerce Serving Communities (ICSC)’s largest event of the year. Any uncertainty about the state of retail leading into ICSC Las Vegas 2022 was largely assuaged by the collective energy and optimism of the convention’s nearly 22,000 attendees.

As a leading land development consultant, Bohler has been a prominent fixture at ICSC Las Vegas for decades. During this time, Bohler’s site planning professionals have witnessed monumental shifts in the retail industry. Over the last 10 years in particular, ICSC Vegas has transformed from a retail-specific event to a worldwide gathering. Developers and dealmakers across diverse markets assemble to learn more about commercial real estate industry trends, find new opportunities, and cultivate relationships to grow their business.

ICSC Vegas 2022 continued its transformation trend. Here are six themes Bohler’s conference attendees shared from the event, all of which relate to land development and site planning opportunities.

1. An Optimistic Industry Outlook

Overall, the industry outlook is positive, with many retailers seeking opportunities to expand their presence.

“It was great to be back [at ICSC Vegas 2022] and our team gathered some interesting takeaways. Despite some of the economic headwinds that are there, it would appear that most well-established and sophisticated developers and retailers we spoke with are bullish on the future.”
Adam Volanth, CEO

“Grocers, quick-serve restaurants, and car washes, specifically, are actively expanding. And the banks are still building with bricks and sticks.”
Josh Swerling, Principal

Bohler’s Take: For shopping center owners and property managers seeking new ways to use vast retail parking fields, consider quick-serve restaurants, banks, and car washes for outparcel pad sites.

2. Adapting Lease Terms

Regarding “economic headwinds,” lease term adaptations help to combat rising costs and uncertain timelines.

“Many owners, property managers, and landlords are approaching leases differently. They’re more frequently building in clauses to accommodate supply chain challenges, risings costs of construction, and often unknown timelines to deliver space.”
Tom Tabone, Associate

“We really must admire the commercial real estate industry’s ability to find creative ways to continue signing deals amidst the challenges with inflation, rising interest rates, and material shortages.”
Dan Duggan, Associate

Bohler’s Take: Consulting with a site civil engineer on critical contract deal points can help owners and tenants better understand and manage the risk that lies ahead. Confining contract negotiations to real estate teams and legal departments can create a missed opportunity. Allowing the technical expert to explain how their due diligence findings potentially affect the lease adaptations and deal points could be beneficial.

  1. 3. Turning to Industrial

Retailers are looking to industrial development to overcome supply chain challenges.

“There continues to be a lot of discussion around the industrial sector. Some retailers are looking to expand their warehouse space in the United States to minimize impacts to customers and maintain the ability to fulfill online orders quickly.”
Joe Ucciferro, Principal

Bohler’s Take: E-commerce ignited the demand for industrial development. Supply chain challenges are sustaining the need for warehouse, distribution, and last mile facilities. For landlords looking to leverage underutilized or vacant space in their shopping centers, retail-to-warehouse conversions continue to be a promising option to consider for repositioning big box anchors.

4. Retail to Residential Repositioning

Some retail developers are eyeing the housing market for repositioning opportunities.

“Traditional large-format retail developers are exploring multifamily residential opportunities. Often, they own or operate underperforming retail sites in highly desirable locations, so the repositioning makes sense.”
Geoff Fitzgerald, Associate

“I spoke with a lot of multifamily developers who are actively looking for sites and new opportunities. It’s definitely an avenue to consider if you have vacant retail space.”
Christina Peterson, Marketing Business Partner

Bohler’s Take: When filling retail space vacated by large department stores, atypical uses like residences can help transform existing malls and shopping centers. When faced with significant vacant space, consider thinking outside the box with untraditional tenants.

See Related: Outside the [Big] Box Tips for Filling Empty Retail Space

5. Eyeing Sustainability

The retail industry is getting more serious about ways to incorporate sustainable design elements and take advantage of various incentives.

“Cities can boost revitalization in downtowns by embracing tax breaks and other incentives that motivate retailers to incorporate electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. The federal government has set aside $7.5 billion for EV infrastructure support.”
Taylor Parker, Associate

“In New York, renewable energy incentives and streamlined utility permitting processes are helping solar companies expand in a big way.”
Scott Shearing, Assistant Project Manager

Bohler’s Take: With EV infrastructure and renewable energy trending, developers in many geographic regions can leverage state or federal incentives to invest in these solutions. In addition to the tax breaks, developers may experience other benefits including expedited permitting processes, hands-off installation and maintenance of equipment, and zoning relief.

6. Industry Resilience

Emerging from the global pandemic, many retailers feel resilient to future economic slowdowns.

“Many industry professionals predict that the retail market is uniquely positioned to weather a future economic downturn. They’re attributing their future resiliency to the COVID-19 pandemic adaptations they have already made to their business models.”
Michael O’Shaughnessy, Associate

Bohler’s Take: The retail market appears strong, particularly for those experienced in managing commercial real estate’s risk. Ultimately, ICSC Vegas 2022 showcased the industry’s continued resiliency and transformation through several tumultuous years.


Bohler helps real estate professionals move forward, faster. Contact one of our retail specialists today.

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