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"It Feels Better."

If you're looking for a sound bite summary of the New York National Conference and Dealmaking and the mood of the retail real estate sector, try, "It feels better."

Those were the words delivered in a general session at the conference and they aptly describe the sentiment on the floor. It's a marked shift from the past three years when the mood was dominated by all sorts of concerns about the sector's health and it's outlook. How many stores were going to close? Who was going to liquidate? When would requests for concessions stop? How much debt was going to go bad? Were we going to see a lot of industry bankruptcies? Etc.

Today, it no longer feels like the world is spinning off of its axis. That's not to say that there still aren't a lot of challenges or things to worry about. It's just that there are now also more signs of improvement to go along with the trouble spots.

Occupancies are stabilizing in many places and in the top markets rents have actually started to inch up a bit. A lot of companies and retailers are sitting on big piles of cash and are in the midst of figuring out how to deploy it. There is still a fair amount of distress to deal with. And troubled properties or properties in worse-off markets still face challenges. But at least now the problems don't feel quite so pervasive.

There's still a couple more hours of dealmaking to go today. Things are beginning to quiet down some. But overall it's been bustling. It will be interesting to see how much the pace keeps up tomorrow.

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