By  on November 26, 2007

NEW YORK — Urban retail and development will be a key topic at the International Council of Shopping Centers' New York National Conference and Deal Making.

More than 7,000 real estate professionals, developers and retailers are set to gather Dec. 3 to 5 and, as suburban land dwindles, many are looking to urban neighborhoods.

The keynote speaker is retired basketball great Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who is chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson Development Corp. The former Los Angeles Lakers star is to speak at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 3 about how to attract lenders and institutional capital to urban projects, and the use of creative designs and tenant improvements to encourage urban retailing. He also will talk about overcoming obstacles in the long and often complicated process.

Johnson has unveiled Magic Johnson Theaters at Harlem USA here, Randall Park Mall in Cleveland, Northline Mall in Houston, Crenshaw Mall in Los Angeles and Greenbriar Mall in Atlanta. He also has opened Starbucks units in underserved areas such as 125th Street and Lenox Avenue here, through a partnership with the coffee company.

One of the conference's perennially popular events is the Retailer's Runway, which features national retailers disclosing their business and expansion plans. The Retailer's Runway on Dec. 3 will feature more than a dozen presenters chosen by a 16-member committee that began culling names and doing research nine months ago. Aaron Fleishaker, senior vice president of real estate at Avenue Stores, United Retail Group and co-chairman of the Retailer Runway, said the criteria for choosing businesses is simple.

"They have to be in business now and have to have a plan for the next year or two of where they'll be in terms of opening units," he said. "The Runway has gained in stature. We used to try to have to cajole people to be speakers. Now we have to turn people away. Conference attendees leave with the names of real estate representatives for the companies and some information about each company."

This year's lineup includes: 24 Hour Fitness, American Apparel, DSW, Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, The Fresh Market, Great Clips, Kohl's, Maurices, Party City, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Bye Bye Baby and Steve & Barry's University Sportswear.Among the speakers will be Dov Charney, ceo of American Apparel; Tom Karis, real estate director of Maurices, and Doug Calvin, real estate director of Steve & Barry's.

"The show has grown," Fleishaker said. "Initially, we had a podium and people just got up and read their remarks. Now we have a professional moderator and we shoot video footage inside every store [for an introduction to each speaker]."

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