Young Leaders Convene Virtually in Roundtable Series
Young Leaders Convene Virtually in Roundtable Series
I was born and raised in the Midwest. The change of seasons is why I stay – a chance to start again, to start anew.
Here’s to a new week,
Cindy McSherry | Executive Director | ULI Chicago
Tales From the Front Line | June 22, 2020
Vice President, Real Estate & Inclusion | Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives
Read Ciere’s Bio
As I drive around my community, I wonder how long it will take for stores to re-open, boards to come down, life in general to return to normal. On second thought, I question what is normal and was it ever really “normal”? Decades of what feels like strategic disinvestment has left many communities without basic needs like grocery stores, pharmacies, dining options and other essential resources and that in itself is far from normal.
As I reflect over the last few weeks, I’m filled with emotions. I’m angry and frustrated. First a global pandemic that disproportionately impacted Black communities and now civil unrest. These two epidemics have changed the world. This is more than my professional perspective. This is a tale of my personal feelings as well. While, I rarely mix the two, this time felt different and necessary. I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, I focus on real estate and economic development on the South Side and I’m raising two Black children on Chicago’s South Side.
The killing of George Floyd placed an international spotlight on the institutional racism that continues to plague communities. Powerful protests across the city, opened the eyes of many to centuries of injustice. The pain of many marginalized communities is on full display. The evil truth made headlines across the world. Racism and inequity have a disturbing trickle-down effect. While those raw emotions were hard to bear for many, it is disappointing to see others focused on being slightly inconvenienced by broken glass from looters. I fear that the powerful messages of protesters were lost by the actions of looters. A few days of “inconvenience” doesn’t equate to a lifetime of inequities and discrimination and outright neglect for what’s right and just.
Economic development throughout under-served communities has always been my passion and focus but the last few weeks have reignited my passion and commitment to work in under-resourced communities, authentically engage residents and other stakeholders and support small businesses.
Although many South and West Side businesses remain boarded, the Juneteenth flags on businesses and homes are a reminder that our communities are resilient and powerful. I’m optimistic that together we can do our part to create far more equitable communities, where residents and businesses thrive. I’m hopeful that the powerful protests serve as a wake-up call for many that the old way of “doing business” simply should no longer exist. It is up to each of us, to do our part, the work of inclusion should not fall solely on the excluded.
As Arthur Ashe eloquently stated “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” We’re all in this together.
Senior Managing Director & Director Global Investment Research | Heitman LLC
Read Mary’s Bio
It is the longest day of the year, my favorite day of the year, filled with bright promise. What better time to think about the challenges we face and how we are going to confront them? The public health crisis persists, with spikes in new cases and hospitalizations in locations where people may have hoped weather or some other factor granted immunity. Despite better-than-expected job creation numbers for May and a heartening rebound in retail sales, the US faces a long recovery from the sudden-stop recession. Real estate has held up relatively well thus far, based on collections data and monthly occupancy figures but for the hard-hit retail sector. But we know those numbers are what they are because of government policy. The stimulus provided thus far, though imperfectly targeted and administered, has made a difference. We will need more.
The next round of stimulus can be shaped so it addresses multiple issues at once, including social justice. Kamala Harris, in speaking in the NY Times on the public safety part of the social justice conversation, laid out an agenda ULI can help execute: “You know what creates more safety? Funding public schools, affordable housing, increased homeownership, job skill development, jobs, access to capital for those who want to start small businesses or are running small businesses.” I would add that climate change and the risks to community and property it represents, needs to be top of mind today. Climate migration is underway globally, with those most able to head for higher ground doing so, to highlight just one of the trends visible today that is heightening inequality. Job training and skill development can be wrapped around helping our region, our nation move toward a more-resilient, more-equitable future.
DOUGLAS W. LYONS
Managing Principal | Pearlmark
Read Doug’s Bio
I had thought I would comment on the immediate, near term and potential long-term implications of COVID on commercial real estate as an asset class. But there has already been extensive commentary on the plight of retail and lodging, uncertainty in office (more or less, flight to suburban?), and resilience of logistics and multifamily. The capital markets are very quiet, not unusual for summer months but even more striking with extreme volatility in fixed income shutting down CMBS, banks overwhelmed while assessing their exposure with fully drawn lines from borrowers and administering QE through the PPP, and private credit limited in liquidity with pullback in loan on loan activity. There is very little sales activity, as forced or distressed selling has not widely occurred yet and there is a big gap between buyer and seller expectations on returns/value. So today on June 19, I am thinking about larger issues that impact us all as an industry, as a nation, and as world citizens.
The broader societal and long-term implications of pandemics combine with intense focus on issues of social justice and equal opportunity at a time when our country is deeply divided with a presidential election rapidly approaching. So, I will ask a question that has real estate implications. How do we get our house in order? Continuing with the real estate investment analogy, I offer some ways to consider this: (1) Target investment at an appropriate return on capital (think education, housing, job training); (2) Create and maintain products that attract and retain tenants (think education, housing, job training); (3) Active portfolio management for strategic direction and risk mitigation (think best minds, strong leadership, decisions supported by data and analysis); and (4) Intense asset management (think blocking and tackling at the local level to implement strategic plans and react quickly to variance, watching the budget closely and being a steward of investment capital). I by no means intend to oversimplify the issues. This will be hard work. How do we as an industry move our nation forward in a positive, civil way toward greater and more equal opportunity? The cost of not being prepared for pandemics has been immense. The cost of inter-generational racial inequality has been immense. These are issues that we can tackle together if we do our part to create healthy places to live and work and we get involved in the community to support, mentor and lead.
If you have questions or want to share your thoughts, email us at chicago@uli.