ICSC Re-opens The Doors To University Of Shopping Centers Next month, New York-based International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) will reintroduce the University of Shopping Centers after a seven-year absence. Held at the Wyndam Anatole Hotel in Dallas, the program will run Jan. 14 through Jan. 16, with sessions held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"The focus of the University is to offer practical knowledge to shopping center professionals in specialized areas," says Karen Killeen, public relations coordinator for ICSC. Forty classes are offered in eight categories, or schools: asset management; retailing; small center and outlet retailing; finance, accounting and lease administration; development, design and construction; shopping center law; operations, marketing and leasing; and information technology.

Each course is worth .5 credits, which can be used toward maintaining a professional designation. "Every three years, these designations need to be recertified," explains Killeen. "People need 10 credits within three years in order to be recertified." Credits can be accrued through continuing education, industry service or professional recognition.

Classes for the Univerity of Shopping Centers are taught by practicing industry experts who follow a prescribed syllabus. Students may either take individual courses in areas of personal interest or register for one particular school to receive a certificate of participation.

"It's a significant attribute to your job history to have this certificate," says Killeen. "In order to get the certificate, students have to complete four courses within the same category."

According to Killeen, the University of Shopping Centers is different from its cousin, the School of Professional Development. While the School of Professional Development offers two levels of training in three areas -- marketing, management and leasing -- the University of Shopping Centers covers a wider range of specialized areas.

"Beginners might be more comfortable in The School of Professional Development," says Killeen. "The University offers a wider course selection for individuals who are more experienced in the industry and would like to gain more useful, current, practical knowledge."

According to Killeen, the University of Shopping Centers was discontinued in 1990, when ICSC expanded the course offerings for the School of Professional Development. The program was brought back after a seven-year hiatus when ICSC realized the three areas of training offered by the School of Professional Development did not fit the needs of all shopping center professionals. "The University reaches out to all members of the shopping center industry, as opposed to just members who are involved in marketing, management and leasing," says Killeen.

Four hundred attendees are expected to attend the University in January. ICSC will hold the University annually, but plans to offer the program more frequently are under way. "As it becomes more successful, we would like to have regional schools across the country several times throughout the year to benefit our membership," says Killeen.

For more information on University of Shopping Centers courses and fees, call ICSC registration at 212-421-8181, ext. 383.

Buonanotte Is Honored As 'Man Of The Year' Frank Buonanotte, president and chief executive officer for The Shopping Center Group and Party City, both based in Atlanta, has been named Man Of The Year by ChainLinks. He was honored by the Houston-based broker network at the organization's annual meeting in Seattle.

"Frank is a combination of Brooklyn street fighter and sophisticated businessman," said ChainLinks president Ed Page at the presentation. "He has played a lead role in the development of ChainLinks, ... and he is advisor and confidant to a wide range ofprofessionals in our industry -- brokers and retailers alike."

"I am originally from Brooklyn, and I am very straightforward and probably somewhat aggressive," notes Buonanotte, laughing at Page's reference to "Brooklyn street fighter." He adds that he has a willingness to take stands on issues, even when they are unpopular.

As CEO of two organizations, Buonanotte has gained invaluable experience in brokering, he says. "As CEO of The Shopping Center Group, I work with national retailers and get to pick their brains, which gives me ideas to help Party City," he explains. "And working with Party City gives me an inside look at the operations of retail and more information I can share with [The Shopping Center Group's] clients."

The Shopping Center Group joined ChainLinks in 1985. It has six offices in the Southeast, and it has provided site selection and acquisition assistance to clients such as The Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, OfficeMax, Borders Books, Costco, Famous Footwear, Blockbuster Video and Starbucks.

Kohl's Opts For HVAC Air Lift When Kohl's Department Stores, Menomonee Falls, Wis., replaced HVAC units at four of its Chicago-area stores this year, the project required more than a technician to complete. The 20-year-old units each weighed 17,000 lbs., and Kohl's was faced not only with the task of removing the units but of removing them without interrupting business.

Because of the size of the air-conditioning units, the retailer's choices for removal were limited. The first option -- a crane -- was too costly ($100,000 for four days of use). Furthermore, a crane would require setup of a day or more at a single site and would interfere with store operations.

With that in mind, Kohl's officials decided to accomplish by air what could not be accomplished on ground. They hired a non-military helicopter ($52,000 for four days of use) from Erickson Air Crane, Central Point, Ore., to hoist the old units from the stores and raise the new units in their place.

Broadview, Ill.-based Air Comfort Corp., supplier of the new air-conditioners, assisted in coordinating the exchange. Patrick Golden, project engineer for Air Comfort, reports that, aside from finding a helicopter large enough to do the job, the most difficult part of the project was setting a schedule that could accommodate everyone involved.

For example, in addition to booking a helicopter and pilot, the project required the cooperation of four mall managers and four municipalities, including police and fire departments. "Every time something was going to change, you had to let a whole series of people know," Golden says.

The project was eventually scheduled during a two-week period, and Kohl's planned to complete replacements at two stores per week. Prior to the lift date at each store, crews roughed in electrical work for the new air-conditioning unit and prepared the existing unit for removal.

On the lift days, personnel arrived on the site at 5:00 a.m. The old air-conditioner was removed from the building and hauled away, and the new unit was hoisted to the roof and installed. At each site, work was completed by 9:00 a.m., before the store opened.

Disruption was "very, very minimal, and no more than what we had planned or expected," says Phil Deeken, facilities manager for Kohl's Department Stores. In fact, he adds, store employees noticed the results more than they did the removal or installation process. "All the stores reported that they were cool and comfortable -- for the first time in years," he says.

New Book Chronicles Shopping Bag Design Graphis Books, New York, has published Graphis Shopping Bag I: The Art Of The Shopping Bag, a 244-page, hard-cover book documenting the creativity of one of the retail industry's most prevalent advertising vehicles.

"From its traditional role as institutional advertising, the shopping bag has been transformed into a leading tool in retail merchandising and brand identity," writes Tracy Mullin, president of Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation, in the book's introduction. "From new product launches to store openings to seasonal promotions and new store identity campaig ns, the bag, in all its shapes and forms, signifies exclusivity for individual retailers."

In 34 categories, ranging from book stores and events to shopping malls and toys, more than 200 shopping bags are illustrated as part of Graphis Shopping Bag I. With text in English, German and French, the book is available from Graphis Books, 212-532-9387.

Tysons Corner Center Launches World Wide Web Site Tysons Corner Center, the largest mall in the Washington, D.C., area, has extended its trade area "worldwide." Located in McLean, Va., the center recently launched a site on the World Wide Web.

Eric Kulczycky, Tysons' assistant marketing director for tourism, says the site serves as a marketing tool to attract shoppers to the mall. It includes news regarding upcoming events and promotions, an interactive store directory, tourist information and a multimedia gallery featuring one of Tysons' television commercials.

Web surfers can win mall gift certificates and prizes during monthly drawings and contests. And tour planners can finalize tour details on-line, ensuring that Tysons' staff is prepared to meet their groups' needs.

Although Kulczycky is unable to correlate an increase or decrease in traffic to the launch, he says the site receives an average of 3,700 hits per day. The audience ranges from "out-of-town visitors who need directions to the mall to regular shoppers who want up-to-date information on sales and promotions," he notes.

Tysons Corner Center is owned by Dallas-based L&B Group. Its Web address is http://www.ShopTysons.com.