In September, retail brokerage veteran Patrick Breslin joined Studley as executive vice president of East Coast Retail Services, a division that, until now, the international real estate firm never had reason to focus on. The former president of Grubb & Ellis’s U.S. retail division and a retail broker at CBRE, Mr. Breslin, 50, spoke about his strategy at the International Council of Shopping Centers this week, his goals for Studley’s new East Coast Retail division and father Jimmy Breslin’s views on commercial real estate.
The Commercial Observer: What’s your strategy going into the International Council of Shopping Centers conference this week?
Mr. Breslin: I’m going to be checking out, and going after with vengeance, all of my competitors’ customers. It’s a little facetious, but I’m going to go, and the first three or four hours on Monday gives me a pretty good idea of the pulse and whether it’s an upbeat or it’s a status quo, a par line, or if it’s downbeat.
Since 2008 the mood at ICSC has gotten increasingly positive yet never exuberant.
No, and I honestly think that the positiveness—you have to stay positive where all the tell-tale signs are not positive. You also try to keep upbeat. You try to keep the landlords upbeat. You try to keep the tenants upbeat. Tenant numbers and sales numbers are—you know, numbers are numbers. They’re meant not to lie.
Will there be a larger focus on foreign retailers this year?
Normally around here, we never paid attention to what was going on on the other side of the oceans around the world because it never affected us much. But all of a sudden the global economy versus local economy is beginning to factor in at a significant pace and a significant amount, as well.
You came to Studley this September as executive vice president of retail, and until now Studley hadn’t focused on the retail sector. That must be daunting.
Yeah. It is daunting, but the one thing I’ll say here that—in all the other places I’ve worked, in all the time that I’ve worked added up, referrals from investment sales brokers and capital markets brokers and office brokers, I’ve had more opportunities to talk with global retail players referred from in-house from different areas of the real estate business, but I’ve had more referrals and meetings with retailers in the last 90 days than I could probably add up in the previous 25 years.
What do you attribute that to?
I attribute it to the type of clients that we represent on the office space side, and, specifically, in the retail side we’ve represented some pretty large retailers. We just completed representing—it’s public information now—the office brokers in here just represented J. Crew in the renewal of their corporate headquarters in Vornado’s building down on Aster Place and Broadway. This was done in the last 90 days or so, 120 days.