Shopping Centers Today

SEP 2018

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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Lee Schaffler Executive Director, J.P. Morgan Asset Management L ee Schaffler got an unusual introduction to the retail real estate industry. As a child, he created a make- believe shopping center he called The Six Cousins Mall, with six relatives. "This was the equivalent of kids playing house or cops and robbers," said Schaffler. "We used to go to each other's homes and we would go right to the basement, and we would play in the 'mall' — and we had stores, and we had fake currency. My dad used to photocopy money [for us] to use in the 'mall'; people probably thought he was in the counterfeiting business!" Today Schaffler, 38, is an executive director at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, in New York City, where he oversees commercial real estate investments on behalf of institutional investors — most surely using real, not fake, currency. He holds a bachelor's in policy analysis and management from Cornell University and a Master of Science from Columbia University's Real Estate Development Program. Schaffler joined J.P. Morgan fresh out of college 17 years ago, but he did not start out in the real estate division — he spent four years working in equities and the public capital markets. "The [pretend] mall obviously was kitschy and fun, and we did that as kids, but I always felt that real estate had this alpha advantage — when you talk about the ability to produce alpha and excess returns as an asset manager," said Schaffler. In his role at J.P. Morgan, Schaffler is keenly aware of the challenges facing the retail industry these days. "The biggest challenge for retail is that consumer preferences and the way people allocate or spend money changed almost overnight, and so retailers, landlords, market par- ticipants, lenders — everyone — had to pivot so quickly. And I don't think anyone saw it coming. There is just so much demand today from experiential-type services and subscriptions that weren't around five years ago, and so you had more share of wallet back then." Schaffler seems to have internalized is how to avoid let- ting things become routine. "When the learning curve has flattened, I have always raised my hand to take on some- thing new," he said. "It has felt like I've had a new job every four or five years." That aligns with the advice he says he would offer any- one entering the industry. "It is important to do a lot of different things early on in your career," he said. "It is so important for young folks to be well-rounded, but [also] to make sure you have one skill that sets you apart, that you are the expert in and [which] everyone relies on [and] that makes you indispensable." Rachel Wein Founder and President, WeinPlus F resh out of graduate school 10 years ago, Rachel Wein had designs on becoming an architect, but she found retail real estate instead. Wein, 39, is president of WeinPlus, a real estate consulting firm in St. Petersburg, Fla., that she founded in 2008, just before the recession hit, when she was only 29 and pregnant with her first child. (Today she and her husband have three boys.) Among the firm's clients are Alexander & Baldwin, Brixmor Property Group, Kimco Realty, Kroger, Publix and The Sembler Co. Her largest client is the educational endowment for Kamehameha Schools, which owns 360,000 acres in Hawaii, including 2,500 acres in urban Honolulu. She is a graduate of the University of Florida, and she holds master's degrees in real estate and architecture, as well as an undergraduate degree in design. Wein never did put all that architectural education to use as an actual architect. Instead, after graduate school she joined Ernst & Young's Lee Schaffler 32 S C T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 8

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