Malls · Retail leases · Shopping Center · Uncategorized

Why you should be at least slightly conversational in accounting, finance and lease administration

“Ambitious men do not ask questions for fear their infallibility will be challenged” – Washington (or John) Roebling

My apologies to David McCullough who wrote The Great Bridge about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge for not even knowing whether it was Washington or John Roebling who gave us that awesome quote above. But, whether father or son, he was lamenting some of the problems he was having with construction because certain supervisors would not ask questions that needed to be asked.

Since 1996, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) has offered finance and accounting classes for professionals in the industry that may not have to deal with finance, accounting or lease terms on a daily basis. Since you can’t teach finance and accounting in two days, my goal in teaching portions of the class has always been to get the students comfortable to learn enough to know what they don’t know, and be willing to ask questions – to help them understand that no one has all of the answers.

Why this blog today? Over the last week, I have seen a number of articles and press releases where I have thought, “Oooh! I wish they hadn’t presented it that way,” or, “I wonder if they checked with lease administration on that.”

One article related to a new source of parking revenues. We are always looking for ancillary revenues in our business, and a few companies promote ways to generate revenues from existing spaces. Any way to generate additional revenue from existing assets can be wonderful – provided you think through how the property may be affected. Will spaces assigned for revenue generation still be considered part of the parking ratios? Do some of the leases have prohibitions against charging for parking? Does the revenue need to be offset against CAM? If so, will it be the gross revenue or the landlord’s share of revenue?

Another article related to a company announcing new tenants coming to a property to backfill vacant anchors. The company is adding some “experiential” uses. I would be happy if they were coming to my local mall. However, the press release addressed “and other non-retail uses.”  Fuel for the fire. Shopping centers are going through another step in their evolution. What may never have been an acceptable use in a shopping center (think a brewery or distillery or a health club facility or even multi-family) is slowly becoming not only an acceptable use, but in some cases, a desirable use. While some of these “new” uses may not be retail, they are becoming shopping center uses. The press release reads “non-retail.” Many leases address a percentage of retail uses that must be located in the center, or a percentage of “traditional shopping center” tenants for cotenancy purposes.

These are just two from the week. But, you regularly see issues addressed that, if they had been run by multiple departments, may have been presented differently – expansions or additions that, if presented properly, might have warranted a minimum rent increase. Renovations or replacements that might be considered CAM. The list goes on.

There truly is value in knowing what you don’t know. (And, the next time ICSC offers the class, look into it. I will give you some good information, but the others that also teach are outstanding!)

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