Posts Tagged ‘CRE development’
Thanks in part to Hollywood, developers have a reputation as the “bad guys”–the greedy corporate bulldozers whose plans always run counter to the will of the community and woodland sprites. This certainly isn’t the case in many locales. Here in Philadelphia, long-abandoned row homes, overgrown lots, and industrial facilities are being converted to town homes and multifamily properties–and I’m yet to hear anyone complain (except maybe a few union members not hired for the project). Often, developers–whether it’s just a couple local guys or a major firm like Trammel Crow or Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL)–receive resounding approval from community members who appreciate the economic growth that comes with new projects.
Sometimes, however, new residential and commercial projects, no matter how feasible from a market perspective, meet vocal resistance from members of the community. And the fear of losing green space and a nice view is only one of the many reasons residents will fight a proposed development or commercial tenant. Here are a few other businesses and commercial projects that have struggled with public opposition: Read the rest of this entry »
I’m interested in the ongoing evolution of America’s cities, as you can no doubt tell if you read the Llenrock Blog on a regular basis. Even though the “urban experiment” is still very much a work in progress, a few things are becoming clear. One of these is the demographic shift that has brought greater numbers of Americans from the suburbs to downtown areas. As members of the so-called “creative class” gather their fixed-gear bicycles and English degrees and crippling student debt to move into urban apartments, cities must meet the needs of a growing populace with more efficient systems of transportation.
I looked at this idea last month in a post exploring the role of train stations and bus lines as anchors for mixed-use, retail, and residential real estate. Today, I want to discuss a related subject: walkability.
There’s a fascinating website called Walkscore.com, which–as the name implies–scores cities according to their convenience and accessibility for pedestrians. Here’s how the site ranks America’s largest cities:
7. Washington, D.C.
4. Chicago Read the rest of this entry »
This alone demonstrates the need for more efficient transportation solutions in today’s communities, a need many urban planners and developers are trying to address. As communities evolve to better accommodate the movement of its residents, real estate of all kinds will be forced to keep pace.
The Urban Land Institute, which is all over stuff like this, recently published a piece on its UrbandLand website discussing the growing appeal of dense urban communities and strategies for suburban communities to replicate this appeal.
After nearly 60 years of sprawl, economic and demographic changes have reignited the urban consolidation of the early 20th century. There are a number of reasons for this, beyond the cost of long-distance car travel:
- Thanks to the recession, and perhaps the experience of growing up in the ‘burbs themselves, many post-baby boomers are opting to rent in the city rather than own in the suburbs
- Increased environmental consciousness has made cities appealing for their efficiency (which ties into the whole car thing, of course)
- Generally speaking, the cultural/lifestyle differences between downtown and suburban areas makes urban living attractive to college grads uninterested in the white-picket-fence option Read the rest of this entry »
Last fall, Philadelphia-based Brandywine Realty Trust (NYSE: BDN) raised a few eyebrows when it announced a new joint venture with luxury home builder Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL). Since it’s known as an owner/operator of office properties in the Mid-Atlantic (and to some extent Texas and California), the REIT’s decision to embark on a major multifamily venture in the suburbs suggests the company has realized the current limitations of the office sector since the real estate downturn.
The foray into multifamily is a reassuring move from an investors’ perspective. Since markets and asset types vary so widely, a little diversification within a REIT’s portfolio seems ideal for any stability-minded investor. Since Brandywine brought Toll Brothers on board (which itself is venturing into newish territory by developing apartments), the REIT has an experienced partner for the project. This is essential, since inexperience is a common liability when diversifying.
Now, Brandywine is upping the ante, moving from the mainstream–multifamily–to something more specialized: student housing. Read the rest of this entry »
Noun, informal. A decent, upright, mature and responsible person.
Noun, slang. An awkward, clumsy, or unlucky person whose endeavors tend to fail; a loser.
Mensch of the Week:
Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA
Llenrock’s Mensch of the Week is often a newcomer to the industry spotlight, perhaps a successful dealmaker or newly promoted executive. But today’s Mensch, Robert A.M. Stern, is already a fairly illustrious figure thanks to numerous industry awards, a nationally recognized architecture firm, and his role as dean of the architecture school at some place called “Yale.”
So, being our Mensch of the Week isn’t exactly Mr. Stern’s big break. Even so, his integral role in designing the Philadelphia Navy Yard development, a sprawling mixed-use campus in South Philadelphia, deserves recognition.
The Navy Yard has been a much-needed success story for Philadelphia’s generally stagnant office market. This enormous, ultra-modern, sustainability-focused project has weathered a recession, real estate downturn, and resulting challenges in the investment world. Still, it has succeeded in drawing out-of-town companies like Urban Outfitters to the city. Years later, the project continues to grow.
To a great extent, the office/industrial/flex campus has succeeded because of the adaptability of its development partners–the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC), Liberty Property Trust (NYSE: LRY) and Synterra Partners.
Without this flexibility, the Navy Yard may have faced the same fate as numerous other projects throughout the country, which were stalled, canceled, or reduced in scope due to the recession’s challenging fundamentals. Many once-promising projects couldn’t adjust to the very different CRE market that emerged from the economic downturn.
I used the Spanish spelling of “revolution” because it sounds especially revolutionary.
Commercial real estate, like so many other industries, is built on relationships: between professionals, between service and client, and especially between the industry and its community.
Last Tuesday, a Boulder, Colorado commissioners’ meeting on the county’s oil and gas regulations was stricken by protests, disruptions, and even so-called “bullying” by opponents of the energy sector’s hydraulic fracturing process (a/k/a “fracking“).
As I discussed a while back, fracking–despite the public outcry over environmental and health risks–has emerged as a major economic stimulus for communities that sit above America’s shale gas plays. With increased interest from large energy companies comes elevated demand for industrial and other CRE development, plus an overall boost for the local economy (say proponents).
But fracking has its share of opponents. Proposing natural gas drilling in a community like Boulder is a little bit like opening a vegan tapas restaurant in Dead Horse, Alaska. In the last few months, there have been many instances of commercial and real estate interests colliding with community concerns. Each situation, of course, comes with slightly different challenges, so there’s rarely a clear strategy for a prospective investor or developer. It’s worth looking at the role of community dissent when it comes to real estate investment and development, since commercial decisions that are “legally approved” or “profitable” aren’t always backed by popular opinion.
Whatever economic and real estate benefits the energy sector may bring to Boulder County, it’s probably not worth the fight. In Boulder, after all, it’s not uncommon to face public intimidation for failing to recycle. God forbid you light a cigarette. (Trust me, I used to live in Boulder. My cigarette-smoking didn’t go over too well, nor did my fracking.) Read the rest of this entry »