At Commercial Observer’s latest Future Forward event, held May 10 at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown in Washington, DC, some of the best minds in the industry came together to talk about some of the biggest opportunities, disruptions and pressing challenges facing commercial real estate. industry. The conference focused on technology and ESG.
CO editor-in-chief Maximum Gross presented the first fireside chat of the day, “Innovative Growth Strategies and Talent Retention in a New World to Generate Outsized Returns”, with Simon Ziffpresident of Ackman Ziff, and Richard Macco-founder of Mack Real Estate Groupheavy.
The premise of the conference was that companies around the world compete for top talent, and a major aspect of that is creating buy-in through culture and technology.
Gross noted that there has been a shift and a call to action from companies in recent years when it comes to innovation, with the use of new technologies – and with these new risks.
Mack, who teaches a real estate breakthrough course at Wharton, spoke about the importance of allowing a team to succeed on their own. “I lead by example and don’t ask anyone in business to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself or haven’t done before,” Mack said. “And once you ask someone, don’t guess. They have to be trusted to exercise their judgement. Empower people and make sure they know the extent of authority.
The conversation turned to hot markets. When asked where his company is looking to lend today, Ziff noted that a lot of capital is going to multifamily in high-growth markets, and life sciences are also strong. “It’s a good market to be a lender,” he said.
The second panel of the day found Gross moderating the topic “Meet the value creators transforming CRE and earning new revenue streams”, with Michael Phillipsdirector and president of jamestown; Jesse SteinGlobal Head of Real Estate at Airbnb; and Sonu PandaCEO of Prescriptive datato take part.
“One thing everyone has in common is change,” Gross said, addressing the panelists. “You’re all thinking about embracing the future.”
One of the big topics covered was sustainability, with Phillips talking about companies striving to become carbon neutral, and Panda explaining a 10-point plan for homeowners to achieve net zero carbon and reduce energy demand . Stein added that the analytics can track energy usage and help save significant dollars.
Panda and Phillips disagreed on the importance of amenity applications, with the latter noting that it has been extremely valuable to Jamestown.
Panelists also talked about the future of the metaverse, smart buildings, Local Law 97, and bridging digital and physical assets — like what’s happening at 1 Times Square At New York.
CO’s Gross was back for the third time, hosting the “Building Community Through Real Estate Development” session, with a panel consisting of Monty Hoffmanfounder and president of Hoffman & Associatesand Marc EinCEO of Chateauwho joined virtually.
The two men shared the story of their meeting and the beginnings of The Wharf, which began with the acquisition of land for the home stadium of the Washington Kastles professional tennis team in 2011. Hoffman noted that he had immediately saw the potential in the area. “It’s almost a mile of shoreline on the waterfront in the nation’s capital,” he said. “While other cities were advancing their waterfront, the District of Columbia was not.”
Ein had a front row seat to watch Hoffman’s vision for the $2.5 billion mixed-use development along the Potomac River come to life and called it “amazing for anyone who’s been there.”
Ein also talked about Capital Shield, the public-private partnership between the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department and commercial owners, businesses and institutions, where security cameras are linked to better protect the public. The wharf has more than 400 cameras linked to a command center, allowing people to come to the water’s edge with their families and feel safe.
When Gross asked Hoffman if he thought a development like The Wharf could be done elsewhere in the DC area, the exec mentioned there was room in Union Market and along the river in Georgetown. that he could see as possibilities.
For the fourth panel of the day, “Diversity Challenge”, CO reporter Andre Coen welcomed Pay Wupresident of MWBE Unite; Bryan McDonnellHead of US Debt and Chairman of Global Debt for PGIM Real Estate; and Cedric BoboCEO and co-founder of Intended project.
The latter organization annually trains more than 2,000 minority students at 125 universities to work in the real estate industry, and several of the local students involved in the program, including at Howard University and George Washington University. , were in the audience.
“How do we change the trajectory of diversity and make it an active goal? Coen asked the panel.
“Our contribution is about talent,” Bobo said. “High school, college and veterans, we pay them to learn. It’s one thing to be a hard worker. It’s another to demystify the skills you’re looking for.
PGIM’s McDonnell championed Project Destined. “What has resonated with our team is that we want the best talent, and the only way to find that is in a wider network and a wider pool of people to choose from,” he said. declared.
Pay said that it is not enough to increase the numbers, but to create an ecosystem to continue development.
Chava GourariDeputy CO Editor, served as the next moderator, leading a panel titled “Executing Big Moves: Meet the Forward-Thinkers Driving the Deals & Developments Changing DC” Her guests included Gary Blockpartner and CIO of The Meridian Group; Tony Finemansenior general manager of Acore Capital; and Matthew Pestronkpresident of post brothers.
Pestronk discussed the company’s first entry into the DC market, the recent $200 million acquisition of 825 and 1875 Connecticut Avenuetwo office towers at Dupont Circle that he plans to convert into residences.
“What we saw was that the office market was struggling because of old buildings, but once repositioned they would do well, but a lot weren’t and couldn’t, so prices came down where it made sense to convert this office into a multi-family,” he said, explaining that there will be 700 apartments under construction in 2023 on the site.
Fineman spoke about The Boro’s success at Tysons and how his company likes to build ecosystems with tenant flexibility. The three DC zoning laws agreed to have made conversions like this easier than in New York and other US cities.
The themes of the seminar then turned to climate issues, with Gourarie back on stage to lead a panel between Ko Barrett, NOAASenior Climate Advisor and Vice President of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); and Crystal BergemannSenior Climate Advisor for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Barrett began by talking about takeaways from the latest IPCC reports regarding past, present and future changes in Earth’s climate and options for becoming more resilient.
“Our recent reports have shown that the planet is warming faster than we thought and humans are the majority of it,” Barrett said.
Bergemann referred to the efforts of HUD, which subsidizes 4.5 million affordable housing units and pays $7 billion in utilities, in carrying out its plan of 100 separate climate actions, including a focus on reducing greenhouse gases. greenhouse and environmental justice.
Stick to the climate debate, moderator Allison LloydGlobal Head of Investor Relations and Capital Development for willowled a panel entitled “Proptech, Climate Investment and a Future of Change”.
participated were David ArenaHead of Global Real Estate and Managing Director of JPMorgan Chase; Sunil SeelamsettySenior Vice President of Development for Brookfield; and Brad Greiweco-founder and managing partner of a venture capital firm fifth wall.
Arena noted that JPMorgan decided five years ago to lead the fight against climate change and set an ambitious 10-year green initiative goal for the company, with the first five years achieving a 45% transition of electricity to green energy.
Greiwe explained how Fifth Wall raised significant funds for a carbon impact fund, noting that climate has increasingly become a talking point for the firm’s corporate clients. Working with them to become more resilient and decarbonize their assets has been a priority.
Seelamsetty spoke about the importance of the digital twin and how it has been a game-changer in the industry as it allows a building owner to know everything that is happening in the building at any given time.
Panelists also discussed how climate intelligence is critical to value creation and strategic differentiation in the real estate industry, and touched on the sector’s impact on climate change in general.
A fireside chat was next on the agenda, with Gourarie leading the “Cybersecurity and CRE” discussion with Eric ChuangManaging Director of Cybersecurity and Technology Risk Management at United States; Andrew LoschmanGlobal Head of Security and Technology Risk Management for Field effect; and Marnie Wilkingglobal head of security for Wayfair.
Panelists discussed how crucial it is for commercial real estate companies to be proactive about cybersecurity, as well as developing plans for what to do in the event of a ransomware or other cyberattack.
In the last panel of the day Andy Shallalfounder and CEO of Busboys and poetsspoke one-on-one with Greg Fitchitt, president of the Columbia, Md., area at The Howard Hughes Companyin a seminar entitled “The Future of Hospitality”.
The duo discussed the path to Shallal opening a Busboys & Poets at Columbia — which he did earlier this year — and how the beloved restaurant acts as a gathering place in every community in which it is located and strives to welcome a diverse clientele.
John FalcicchioDC’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development, closed the day with the closing remarks, listing a three-pronged plan to bring DC back, the main one being getting federal employees back in office.
Keith Loria can be reached at [email protected]