LAS VEGAS - Check out the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust's booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
It's within this 6,000-square-foot space with an entrance bathed in LED panels showcasing malls the company owns all over the country that PREIT chief executive officer Joseph Coradino was working his sales magic.
Since landing in Vegas on Saturday, he has been selling the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia at Market East, the company's latest baby, at the nation's largest retail and real estate annual confab, known as ReCon, which will conclude Wednesday.
With the mall's targeted spring 2018 opening, Coradino and his team held no fewer than 150 meetings over three days to pitch Fashion Outlets.
Coradino said he wanted the parade of investors, brokers, and retail agents walking through PREIT's booth to see what the former Gallery at Market East would look like after its $500 million-plus makeover.
"We really put our Sunday best on for this," he said.
PREIT is in a joint venture with another real estate firm, Macerich, which is known for improving malls, to turn the Center City venue into what Coradino described as "a must go."
To sell the project, he had fancy 3-D video presentations showing the mall from all angles - facing Market Street with new lit-up signage up and down the corridor for a more inviting appearance, the restaurants that will line Filbert Street, and the food court that will face both the mall's interior and the commuter station for grab-and-go opportunities.
"I need it filled," said Coradino, who worked the room like a dervish, shaking hands, going in and out of meeting rooms, and seeking out those he hadn't seen in a while.
The firm typically highlights one project each year at this event, he said. Last year, it was Springfield Town Center in Fairfax County, Va. "This year we decided to highlight Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia."
The project was hard to miss when passing PREIT's booth, which cost $100,000 to assemble. A nine-LED-screen video wall showed scenes of the Ninth and Market Streets block over and over again throughout each day.
"One can see it's real and it's moving forward," Coradino said.
The renovation, he said, will fix a key design flaw of the mall where the stores were built in a "defensive mode," facing away from Market Street.
Instead, the project will open out to the street, inviting in shoppers and passersby.
On Monday afternoon, among those who heard his presentation was David Orkin, senior vice president of the restaurant practice for CBRE Inc. in Conshohocken.
Orkin said he had four or five national restaurant chains interested in opening in Center City and eyeing space at the mall.
"They are looking in the range of 6,000 to 9,000 square feet," Orkin, who talks regularly with PREIT about new restaurants for its Philly and South Jersey malls, said after watching the video. "They are looking because Center City is being recognized as having a very vibrant restaurant scene."
ReCon is the retail version of the NFL combines, where retailers and mall owners decide who's a good fit for which mall and what part of the country.
More than 35,000 people converged this week for the three-day event, with a large contingent from overseas.
Coradino said the firm would do "40 percent to 60 percent of our business - of the transactions we do each year - here."
He was also selling his malls in Grand Rapids, Mich.; the Washington area; and the Philly suburbs, including Plymouth Meeting Mall.
"People have an impression of Philadelphia that is very outdated," he said. "The pope came here, and the [Democratic National Convention] is coming. I need to show them what's going on - the best of Philadelphia."
He said he was encouraged by the trend of retailers focusing on urban areas. "The city is a key strategy moving forward because the cities are reemerging as the Place."
He said: "It's about what we did with Cherry Hill [Mall], where we brought in dining and entertainment, and in some cases, residential and office space. The cities already have that . . . and so retailers are much more amenable to opening in urban places.
"It's about finding places for them in older Eastern cities. But it becomes difficult because the real estate doesn't work in their favor," he said.
"That's part of the beauty of the Gallery. . . . Because it was built like a suburban mall, we are correcting that," he said. "We're mindful of keeping the infrastructure in place but also opening it up to pedestrians and the street."
Coradino, ever the salesman, says he can't name names yet, but "a half-dozen retailers" have signed leases and he was "in negotiations with several more."
Just after 2 p.m. Tuesday, Coradino made his way into a small room with national representatives from Victoria's Secret.
Heather Crowell, PREIT's director of investor relations, cued up the Fashion Outlets video for them.
They watched attentively and "were receptive to the project," Coradino said after emerging from the room. "They're ready to talk to us about a deal."