In Part 1 of our two-part series, Julie Heigel, one of our 2017-18 Kahan Fellows, shares her musings and major takeaways from the 2018 ULI Spring Meeting in Detroit.
Each year, ULI Chicago’s Jeffrey Kahan Fellowship recipients attend the ULI Fall and Spring Meetings, gaining valuable insights from the senior CRE players who convene semi-annually to attend their US Product Council meetings. Our 2017-18 Kahan Fellows, Julie Heigel, Assistant Vice President, Waterton Associates LLC, and Brittani Sanders, Director, Multi-Family, CRG Real Estate Solutions, mixed it up a bit from years past while attending the 2018 ULI Spring Meeting in Detroit. Instead of attending their typical Industrial and Office Park Development Council (IOPC) meeting, Heigel and Sanders were both guests of the Multi-Family Council – Green Flight.
This year’s ULI Spring Meeting was held in Detroit. Also known as the “Motor City,” Detroit is best known as the center of the American automotive industry and more recently as the largest city by population in the United States history to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. However, it is evident from this year’s Spring Meeting that the city is experiencing a period of growth and momentum that they have not seen for decades. It is also clear the recent resurgence has only been made possible by the cooperation and commitment among not only government officials but also local businesses including developers. Dan Gilbert, Founder & Chairman, Quicken Loans, Inc. and Rock Ventures LLC, a Detroit native and developer, summarized this concept best at the opening session by saying, “There’s a DNA here of not giving up, of continuing to believe that tomorrow will be a better day.”
Although most individuals at the Spring Meeting seemed bullish on Detroit, not all participants shared the same sentiment about the state of the real estate market. The overall outlook turned from cautiously optimistic from ULI’s Fall Meeting to simply cautious at the Spring Meeting. I had the opportunity to join the Multi-Family Council – Green Flight to discuss ‘real deals’ and trends, and most council members seemed to be facing the same challenge; finding deals that make sense. Rising interest rates coupled with flat (or still falling) cap rates in the face of record new deliveries from 2017 is producing a sense of patience through the investment universe, at least was evident within the multifamily discipline.
My final takeaway was the overall theme of persistence and hard work. As part of the Multi-Family Joint Council Session, I had the opportunity to hear several impressive individuals talk about their career and connection to the city of Detroit. Most notable include Dan Gilbert, Founder & Chairman, Quicken Loans, Inc. and Rock Ventures LLC; Kevyn Orr, Partner, Jones Day; and Stephen M. Ross, Chairman, The Related Companies. Mr. Orr served as the Emergency Manager of the City of Detroit during the bankruptcy and was charged with restructuring finances and operations, including $18 billion of debt. His story and achieved outcome was truly motivational to me and other young leaders who attended the Spring Meeting.
ULI Chicago’s Jeffrey Kahan Fellowship is a sponsor-funded program designed to allow promising ULI Chicago members under 35 to participate as a Full Members in ULI for one year and to join a US Product Council at the ULI Fall and Spring Meetings. Applications for the 2018-19 Jeffrey Kahan Fellowship will be released soon.
Still curious about ULI’s 2018 Spring Meeting in Detroit? Check out some of the other Spring Meeting Recaps from Urban Land magazine.