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Rudy Milian: Repositioning Retail Real Estate

Woodcliff Realty Advisors Helps Landlords Reimagine their Retail Properties


Rudolph (Rudy) E. Milian heads the retail real estate advisory firm Woodcliff Realty Advisors LLC. The Northern New Jersey firm provides management consulting for shopping center companies, retailers, commercial real estate organizations, communities and investors. Woodcliff works with about two dozen experts in most facets of commercial real estate to bring solutions to clients for maximizing the potential of income producing properties. As retail real estate strategists, Woodcliff assists clients with analyzing retail properties for optimum performance through improvements in tenant mix, redevelopment opportunities, operational efficiencies and alternative non-rental revenue.

Before founding Woodcliff in 2016, Milian was a senior executive at ICSC, the global shopping center trade association based in New York City with an emphasis on retail real estate best practices. Prior to ICSC, Milian oversaw asset management for DeBartolo Realty and before that he was with Cousins Properties. He is the author of two books involving sustainability, “Retail Green Agenda” and “Green Tactics from Retailers and Shopping Centers.”

How long have you been in the business?

I have been in retail real estate since the 1970s, when I first accepted an intern position with a company overseeing shopping centers.

What made you decide to get into real estate?

Real estate, particularly retail has been my passion for decades. In the 1980s, I first attended an ICSC convention in Las Vegas and decided that retail was a fast-paced industry where I could hone my skills and contribute my expertise.

What pushes you to the next level?

Seeing opportunities to enhance the asset.

Who inspires you?

Real estate titans like Sam Zell, David Simon, John Bucksbaum, Peter Linneman, Barry Sternlicht, Stephen Ross and Gary Rappaport. Try reading “Real Estate Titans” by Erez Cohen. 

If you had to work in a city other than New York, where would it be?

After almost 20 years working in Midtown Manhattan, I’m happy to be in suburban New Jersey, such as Woodcliff Lake.

What’s the best piece of advice you would give to someone starting in the business?

Read the book “Investing In Retail Properties” by Gary Rappaport. 

How have you seen retail real estate industry change since you began your career?

Retail real estate is constantly changing. Even in 2019, it’s different from 2018. Brick-and-mortar retail has to be as efficient as online retail to compete today. 

What challenges and opportunities do you foresee in retail in the near future?

With a drastically changing retail environment with thousands of stores closing every year and a robust economy, the opportunity to improve the real estate asset is tremendous. Stores need to downsize. We need to add other non-retail uses like entertainment, food, residential and industrial to traditional retail properties to maximize income and long-term value. It’s easy to increase the value of a real estate asset by investing readily available capital and re-tenanting. Real estate is more vigorous today than it ever was.

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