Commercial Real Estate Outlook: Optimism Amidst Uncertainty

ICSC Las Vegas returned this spring—with a new format and brand—after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees and exhibitors rebounded, with higher than anticipated crowds; reported attendance was over 22,000.

Optimism was abuzz, and the pure excitement of being back to in-person events. However, uncertainty still lingered on the minds of many due to ongoing pandemic effects and economic and social unrest. We caught up with a few Stirling Properties team members who made the show to get insight into what’s happening in the retail industry.

Sky-rocketing construction costs vs. rents: One of the most significant issues we’re facing is the cost of deals for the landlord vs. what retailers are willing to pay for the space. “Retailers are expanding, but high labor and material costs remain challenging. Retailers are unwilling to pay more rent than they have historically; however, their box costs 50%+ more to build,” said Darryl Bonner, Senior Advisor. Right now, in many cases, rents don’t justify the cost of construction to make deals work. The imbalance is causing frustration on both sides and a pause in dealmaking. Still, many industry professionals believe this will work itself out with further correction of supply chain issues and compromises in building requirements/needs from retailers. 

Inflation: The increased cost of goods and services undoubtedly affects how and what consumers buy. But so far, overall retail sales have not slowed much, coming off record sales numbers in 2021. As the pandemic began to wane and government subsidies trickled in, we saw a massive sales spike—what some call ‘revenge spending.’ But will this continue long term, with gas and grocery prices steadily ticking up?

People are still spending; they’re just spending differently. According to Rhonda Sharkawy, Senior Retail Leasing & Development Advisor, “There was so much movement around the pandemic; I think we are still seeing the settling effect. I believe sales reports will soften within the next year, and we will see where and how consumers are spending,” said Sharkawy.

Most retail brands remain optimistic. Even though their profits are eroded because of increased costs, they remain bullish on top-line revenue growth. Many believe this is a short-term economic issue that should not incite knee-jerk reactions. Chris Abadie, VP and Manager of Commercial Brokerage, noted, “Despite concerns about inflation and rising interest rates, risk tolerance seems higher than before.” 

Retail shifts: Consumer demands have evolved over the last couple of years. But one thing holds—consumers want it all, and they want it now. As a result, convenience, speed, and multiple buy-and-collect options are paramount to the success of today’s retailers.

“The overall sentiment is that retailers are confident; they are stronger than ever, and they are investing in brick-and-mortar stores. Although consumers want options, they still want a physical store where they can see and touch the product and enjoy social interaction. Online sales are surging, but for many retailers, ecommerce is serving as another touch point or means for increasing store sales,” said Sharkawy. Moving forward, retailers will continue to invest in the shopping experience. We expect more experimentation with store layouts, formats, and product inventory.

The function of the retail center itself is also shifting. Bonner noted, “Most retail deals are now a mix of uses, with retail usually the second or third tier. Multifamily has become the new retail anchor, with medical not far behind.” In addition, we’re seeing more nontraditional tenants and service concepts filling shopping centers.

Technology: “Technology is finally having its moment in our industry,” said Abadie. For years, retailers have been pumping money into technology, targeting their customers and their specific wants and needs. Now, the commercial real estate industry can too.

From a retail/asset management perspective, technology integration helps with staffing, inventory, purchasing, and fulfillment. It is also emerging in building systems, using big data to help with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts, and lowering the carbon footprint of commercial real estate.

Promising tech companies such as, Crexi, and Buildout are becoming industry standards. As CRE practitioners, new technology is helping us analyze the health of retailers and shopping centers. It’s also assisting us to better understand a store’s value through foot traffic vs. online sales vs. physical sales and how people are utilizing the store. However, the real game-changer is emerging tech that can use data and algorithms to identify new locations and market gaps and even project retail sales for future retailers. Emerging technologies will continue to develop and have drastic impacts on our industry moving forward.

Numerous headwinds affect consumer sentiment and spending, but it’s still a glass-half-full outlook. Those retailers that were successful and survived COVID are bullish on the future. The overall attitude coming out of ICSC Las Vegas this year was our industry has faced insurmountable challenges, and we are now better prepared to handle more adversity—so, how do we move forward? We’re all looking forward to continued momentum and more face-to-face interactions.

June 10, 2022|Blog|

What’s Going On at River Chase in Covington?

Stirling Properties Announces Exciting New Updates and Developments

Offices at River Chase in Covington, LA

The first phase of the Offices at River Chase, the Northshore’s premier office campus, has completed construction. Located at the southwest corner of Brewster Road and Stirling Boulevard, Phase I includes a Class-A, two-story, 45,000-square-foot office building located on 3.5 acres. It is accessible from both the LA-21 and Brewster Road interchanges on Interstate 12, and within walking distance to a host of amenities, including restaurants, a movie theater, and residential living options. The highly-renowned architectural firm, Wakefield, Beasley, and Associates, designed the base building, and Mandeville-based Greenleaf Lawson Architects served as the interior architect for the project. Tenant build-outs are now underway, and Duplantis Design Group, PC, will move into their new, 6,000-square-foot office space in mid-May. For more information on the Offices at River Chase and leasing opportunities, contact Ryan Murphy at or (985) 246-3771. Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar Covington, LA Located across the street from the office building, Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar commenced construction on its new restaurant last November. Set on 1.82 acres on the northwest corner of Stirling Boulevard and Brewster Road next to Sam’s Club, this marks the 1st Northshore location for the highly-anticipated sports restaurant and bar. It will occupy roughly 9,600 square feet and is expected to open late this summer, just in time for football season. The Covington location will include a rooftop bar, The Upper Deck, an element unique to the design by Greenleaf Lawson Architects. The Upper Deck will feature group seating and additional space for catching a game. Rooms To Go Covington, Louisiana Rooms-To-Go has opened its new 36,000-square-foot retail showroom located next to Zoe’s Kitchen on Stirling Boulevard. The impressive store is highly visible to Interstate 12 traffic. A Grand Opening celebration was held on Saturday, April 22nd. The furniture retailer relocated from its previous site on Highway 190 in Covington.

Construction on Springs at River Chase is complete, and all buildings are open. This project is a joint venture with Continental Properties. The new 296-unit luxury apartment community is located at the southwest corner of Interstate 12 and Brewster Road. The property features floor plans ranging from studio to three-bedroom apartments. Community amenities include a clubhouse, resort-style pool, 24-hour fitness center, dog park, attached and detached garages, car care center, and a pet spa. Occupancy remains high for the multi-family community. For more information and leasing on Springs at River Chase, contact Jan Rayburn with Continental Properties at (985) 327-1350.

Construction is underway for the newest addition to River Chase, the development of the Preserve at River Chase, a single-family luxury residential community, adjacent to the Springs at River Chase apartments. The Preserve development is a joint venture with Southern Lifestyle Development, which is renowned for its highly-acclaimed River Ranch residential community in Lafayette, Louisiana, amongst many other communities. Phase I of the Preserve will include the completion of 76 detached town and country homes. Infrastructure work has commenced and is expected to be complete in November, at which point the residential lots will be available for sale. Construction on the homes is expected to begin early 2018. River Chase Mixed-Use Development River Chase is the Northshore’s premier master-planned development located amidst 253 acres on the southeast corner of Interstate 12 and LA Highway 21 in Covington, Louisiana. The mixed-use center includes approximately 945,000 square feet of retail and restaurant options, as well as a Holiday Inn Express, Regal Cinema, luxury residential apartment units, and a Class-A office building. Additional residential and office developments are coming soon. Stirling Properties developed River Chase and currently manages and leases the property. River Chase is a Louisiana Economic Development (LED) Certified Site. For more information, please visit For retail leasing and sales, contact Rhonda Sharkawy at (504) 620-8145 or For office leasing and sales, contact Ryan Murphy at (985) 246-3771 or

President’s Message: The Death Knell of Retail Real Estate Is Exaggerated

Stirling Properties President;s Message

I am sure you have all read attention-grabbing news headlines such as these and share the same concerns regarding the future of retail real estate. In this new era of constant access to millions of digital media streams, dramatic headlines cut through the clutter and generate more attention. Drama sells. But despite all the negativity circulating, I am confident that the retail landscape is solid, and the death knell of brick-and-mortar stores is heavily exaggerated.

While there is no question that technology has disrupted the retail business via e-commerce, mobile devices, virtual shopping, etc., physical stores continue to dominate retail sales. Research shows that 78% of consumers prefer to shop in store and spend significantly more per month in a physical store than online. E-commerce, multiple fulfillment options, omnichannel retailing, and other technological advances are improving the brick-and-mortar shopping experience and boosting sales at physical stores.

Even though e-commerce sales are growing significantly (approximately 15% annually), the in-store vs. online struggle is not quite the battle that it is portrayed to be. E-commerce sales—combined with mail-order sales—account for less than 10% of total retail sales. Furthermore, it is estimated that over half of online sales actually go to brick-and-mortar retailers. Consumers are still buying from stores, but now they have more choices to compare prices, make transactions, and receive their goods. Major retailers such as Anthropologie and Nordstrom are effectively leveraging e-commerce sales to grow their business. Anthropologie notes that 36% of its total revenue is earned online and Nordstrom reports 22%. Successful retailers are learning to integrate online sales and omnichannel retailing.

However, in every industry, there will always be winners and losers. Companies must adapt to an evolving business climate. That includes retailers. Competition and shifting customer habits are hurting more merchants than the internet, and innovative new retail concepts are coming to market daily. Unfortunately, corporations like Blockbuster, Sports Authority, and The Limited did not survive the ever-changing retail industry. But on the flipside, stores such as Best Buy, Dollar General, Ross Dress For Less, TJX Cos. (T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods), ULTA Beauty, and countless others—most of which are in Stirling Properties’ portfolio—are all flourishing and rapidly expanding their physical presence. New-to-market retailers like Filson, Iron & Resin, KENZO, and Woolrich are getting in on the action. Even online retail-giant, Amazon, has taken note of the power of physical stores and rolled out brick-and-mortar expansion plans. Many other merchants with digital roots have followed the same path (i.e. “clicks-to-bricks”), such as Warby Parker, Fabletics, and Bonobos.

Similarly, there will be winners and losers as retail real estate investors and owners. Well located, solidly anchored centers are thriving, while Class-B and -C malls and poorly located centers are continually losing national tenants, struggling to fill empty spaces, and downsizing significantly. Some are failing altogether.

The bottom line is that consumer patterns and expectations have shifted. In this so-called “era of the high-maintenance consumer,” they demand value, convenience, multi-channel fulfillment options, and a unique, entertaining experience.

Well-located retail real estate with strong anchors is still a profitable investment option. Net absorption has been high, demand has been exceeding supply, and rents have been rising. Retail is yielding the best 20-year return of any property type due to a combination of strong fundamentals, favorable demographics, limited new supply, and cash flow growth potential. Secondary and tertiary markets are proving to be especially attractive for investors to buy value-add retail opportunities.

Retail real estate is not dying; it’s disrupted. Anyone with any involvement in the industry must embrace this changing landscape to be successful. We will continue to hear negative news and over-exaggerated headlines as the retail race endures, and more stores announce weak sales forecasts and closures. But disruption creates opportunity and a chance for reinvention. At Stirling Properties, we plan to take advantage of these opportunities to re-evaluate and enhance our portfolio and strategic growth plans.

We must ALL adapt and deliver…or get left behind!


April 10, 2017|Blog, President's Message, Retail Sales|

Walk-On’s Coming to River Chase in Covington, Louisiana!


Stirling Properties, NAI Latter & Blum and Greenleaf Architects announce Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar is coming to River Chase mixed-use development in Covington, Louisiana. This will mark the 1st Northshore location for the highly anticipated sports restaurant and bar.

This week, the company closed on the purchase of 1.82 acres of property located on the northwest corner of Stirling Blvd. and Brewster Road next to Sam’s Club. Construction on the site will commence within the next couple of weeks. The restaurant will occupy roughly 9,600 square feet and is expected to open by the summer of 2017, according to Arkel Constructors who has been chosen as the General Contractor.


Stirling Properties’ Senior Retail Leasing & Development Executive, Rhonda Sharkawy, represented the property owners, and Beau Bourque with NAI Latter & Blum represented the tenant. Greenleaf Architects was selected to design the custom restaurant for the new Northshore location.

The popular restaurant started by two LSU students in Baton Rouge has thrived over the years, and expanded into multiple locations. The next stop for Walk-On’s is right here in St. Tammany Parish, and Greenleaf Architects is fortunate enough to work closely with Walk-On’s Enterprises in making this happen. As a firm full of LSU graduates who frequented the original location on Burbank Drive throughout college, this is truly an honor for Greenleaf Architects. The Covington location will include a rooftop bar, “The Upper Deck”, an element unique to the design by Greenleaf Architects. The Upper Deck will feature group seating and additional space for catching a game under the skyline of St. Tammany Parish.


“Stirling Properties is pleased to welcome Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar to River Chase,” said Townsend Underhill, Senior Vice President of Development at Stirling Properties. “They join a dynamic assortment of restaurants, retailers, hospitality, multi-family, and office users offering a one-of-a-kind, mixed-use destination for the entire region.”

“Among other attributes, low stress ingress & egress and complementary anchor/junior anchor tenants together with Stirling Properties’ and St. Tammany Parish’s commitments to developing a live/work/play environment that improves quality of life attracted Walk-On’s to River Chase. I look forward to seeing Greenleaf Architects’ exceptional design come to life,” said Beau Bourque, Sales & Leasing Associate with NAI Latter & Blum.

River Chase is a 253-acre premier mixed-use development located on the southeast corner of Interstate 12 and LA Highway 21 in Covington, Louisiana. The center includes retail, restaurants and entertainment options, as well as a Holiday Inn Express, Regal Cinema, 500+ luxury residential apartment units, and a 48,000-sqaure-foot class A office building currently under construction. Stirling Properties developed River Chase and currently manages and leases the property.

Anchored by Target, Belk, JCPenney, Best Buy, Marshalls, Ross Dress For Less and Sam’s Club, River Chase shopping center occupies 945,000 square feet, and is the largest open air retail center in Louisiana. Additional tenants include Carter’s, Cato, Charming Charlie, Chuck E. Cheese’s, Cost Plus World Market, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Family Cuts, Fidelity Homestead Savings Bank, Five Below, GameStop, Hibbett Sports, Holiday Inn Express, In Style Salon, John V Salon & Spa, Justice, Lane Bryant, Maurices, Men’s Wearhouse, Michaels, Nevada Bob’s Golf, Nutrishop, Oreck Vacuums, Pink & White Nails, Regal Cinemas, River Chase Cleaners, Rooms To Go (opening 2017), rue 21, Sephora, Shoe Carnival, The Children’s Place, ULTA Beauty, Verizon Wireless, Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar, Which Wich and Zoe’s Kitchen. Outparcel tenants include Chick-fil-A, LongHorn Steakhouse, Regions Bank, Taco Bell, Texaco and Wendy’s.

Mid-City Market 100% Leased!

Mid-City Market New Orleans, Louisiana

Addition of new retail & restaurant tenants

Stirling Properties commercial real estate company welcomes new tenants to Mid-City Market in New Orleans, Louisiana, and is pleased to announce that the center is 100% leased.

ASI Federal Credit Union will occupy the last remaining 2,541 square feet of space. Build-out of the space is underway, and the company plans to open in January of 2017. This will mark the 2nd Mid-City location for ASI Federal Credit Union.

Previously announced Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar & Fish House successfully opened earlier this week, marking the 4th location for the popular New Orleans restaurant. It occupied the former Pei Wei Asian Diner space.

Stirling Properties Sales & Leasing Executive, Joe Gardner, handled both transactions.Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar & Fish House

Located on 6.5 acres at the northwest corner of North Carrollton Avenue and Bienville Street in Mid-City New Orleans, Mid-City Market is a 109,000-square-foot urban infill shopping center. Anchored by Winn-Dixie, the center is home to a diverse mix of local and national retailers and restaurants including Office Depot, Jefferson Feed Pet & Garden Center, Panera Bread, Verizon Wireless, Felipe’s Taqueria, Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar & Fish House, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Ochsner Health Center, GNC, Pinkberry, Pizza Hut, Shine Spa + Specialties, LA Nails Spa, and Mariposa Salon & Spa. Stirling Properties developed Mid-City Market and currently manages and leases the center.

Stirling Properties broke ground on the development in early 2012 and celebrated a grand opening in July of 2013. Mid-City Market is Stirling Properties’ largest ground-up retail development in New Orleans and represents one the of the most significant retail developments in the city following Hurricane Katrina. Stirling Properties acquired the vacant, blighted site and returned it to commerce after a $40 million investment. Mid-City Market now serves as the retail and restaurant center of the community, delivering new jobs, new tax revenue and new energy to this vibrant corridor. The retail center is credited with creating over 500 new jobs for the area.

Mid-City Market was designed to incorporate extensive pedestrian features, contextual urban and adaptive reuse architecture, and to complement the adjacent Lafitte Greenway pedestrian and bicycle pathway, melding the retail center to the culturally rich urban neighborhood and extensive architectural history.

“Stirling Properties remains committed to the City of New Orleans and surrounding communities. Our mission is to create economically sustainable retail developments that produce long-lasting benefits to the communities in which they are built—and Mid-City Market is a perfect example of that,” said Grady Brame, Executive Vice President for Stirling Properties. “This center provides services to a great number of local residents and visitors, and is a dynamic economic contributor. We are proud of its progress and success.”

Stirling Properties has been at the forefront of commercial real estate management, investment and development in the greater New Orleans area and surrounding Southeast Louisiana region. Stirling Properties has developed more than 3.7 million square feet totaling $465 million since 2010, and currently has more than 114 million square feet of property and land for sale or lease. Other Stirling Properties management and development projects in New Orleans include, Offices at Mid-City Market, Magnolia Marketplace, Fresh Market and Pan American Life Center, just to name a few.

Stirling Properties and Dorsey Development Announce New Tenants At Gentilly Retail Center In New Orleans

Stirling Properties and Dorsey Development announce new retail and restaurant tenants at the newly developed Gentilly Retail Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Gentilly Retail Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

  • Dollar Tree, a popular discount retail chain that sells items for $1 or less, will occupy 10,000 square feet.
  • rue21 specialty discount retailer of young men and women’s casual apparel and accessories will occupy 6,917 square feet.
  • Footaction national athletic footwear and apparel retailer will occupy 4,847 square feet.
  • Kids Footlocker, offering kids shoes and clothing, will occupy 3,500 square feet.
  • LA Nails and Hair Spa will occupy 2,368 square feet.
  • WingStop, aviation-themed restaurant with a focus on chicken wings, will occupy 1,800 square feet.

All of the listed tenants are expected to open in early September of 2016.

Gentilly Retail Center is a newly developed retail strip center located at 4242 Chef Menteur Highway in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans East, near Walgreens and the recently opened Walmart Supercenter. The surrounding commercial corridor is supported by one of the oldest suburban residential areas in Orleans Parish, Gentilly Woods, as well as Pontchartrain Park and the Baptist Seminary. The development project is currently underway and is expected to be completed by early September of 2016.

“We are eagerly anticipating the completion of Gentilly Retail Center. With such a great mix of tenants, we expect it to be a prominent shopping destination, as well as vital economic contributor to the area’” said Paul Dorsey, III, owner of Dorsey Development.

Dorsey Development is the property owner and developer. Dorsey Development is an integrated (development & construction) commercial real estate company located in New Orleans doing business in the Gulf South—having developed over 1.2 million square feet of retail for national retailers such as: Dollar General, Langenstein’s, Planet Fitness, Whitney Bank, Sav-A-Lot, Stage, Cato Corporation, Shoe Show, Napa Auto Parts, Citi Trends, Subway, Pizza Hut and others.

Dorsey purchased the property in 2015 from Lanasa Center Inc., represented by broker Jennifer Lanasa Evans of JLE & Associates.

Stirling Properties Sales and Leasing Executive, Joe Gardner, worked with Dorsey Development to bring the tenancy together, and the shopping center to life.

“Stirling Properties is proud to work with Dorsey Development in bringing quality restaurant and retail tenants to Gentilly Retail Center, and this growing marketplace. It’s been exciting to watch it all come together,” said Gardner. “We look forward to perpetuating and providing greater shopping and dining options for the area in the future.”

Stirling Properties has been at the forefront of commercial real estate management, investment and development in the greater New Orleans area and surrounding Southeast Louisiana region. Stirling Properties currently has more than 99 million square feet of property and land for sale or lease. Other Stirling Properties management and development projects in New Orleans include, Mid-City Market, Magnolia Marketplace, River Commons and Pan American Life Center, just to name a few.

For leasing information, contact Joe Gardner at or (504) 620-8140.

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