Congratulations to our 2022-23 ULI Chicago Fellows
Congratulations to our 2022-23 ULI Chicago Fellows
November 21, 2022
Our 2022-23 ULI Chicago Fellows recently had the opportunity to attend the 2022 ULI Fall Meeting in Dallas, TX.
Here are a few of their key takeaways:
Kemena Brooks | The Community Builders
2022-23 Women’s Fellow
Over a four-day conference, attendees are engaged with inspiring leaders across the nation and globe and consumed by innovative strategies to advance industry goals. That was my experience during the ULI 2022 Fall meeting; it was energizing, inspiring, and informative. Leading up to the meeting I learned of my placement as a guest on the Private Public Partnership Council (PPPC) aligning with my interest and experience. In addition to the PPPC placement, as preparation for the conference, I had identified must attend sessions and people to connect with while in Dallas.
On October 24th, the first day of the ULI Fall Conference, I boarded a bus tour of Dallas’ Residential Luxury High Rises. Somewhat different from the work I do in mixed-income housing, the tour provided exposure to how developers in the market are structuring deals, considering amenities, and finding a niche. One particularly interesting niche on the tour was a new luxury high-rise apartment developed to attract high-income seniors seeking to downsize. As a bonus, I connected with fellow Chicagoan’s while on the tour.
Day two was spent taking in the Concurrent Sessions including opening remarks from Blackstone’s Global Co-Head Kathleen McCarthy. One message she shared that stood out, especially during these challenging and continuously changing times, was to look at the world, assess what is happening, and come up with an investment thesis. One of the memorable sessions was Designing the Future of Health Care: What If Patients Built a Hospital for Their Community. As the developer leading a Health and Wellness Center in West Garfield Park, a neighborhood with one of the lowest life expectancies in Chicago, the session provided re-affirmation about the need to put residents at the core of design. Exploring new approaches to resident-led design for health care settings is something I look forward to implementing with our team as we continue our partnership in the neighborhood.
Then came Product Council Day which offered an opportunity to be amongst thought leaders to discuss how public-private partnerships are advancing existing and innovative solutions to address critical challenges across the nation. The day was spent exploring three uniquely different ways these partnerships are being formed to advance goals including: the role public parks can play in transforming downtowns, how city resources and infrastructure can contribute to the transformation of obsolete assets and the revitalization of a community, and the positive impacts of delivering mixed-income housing in a downtown. Despite being a first-time guest on PPPC, Product Council Day felt like spending time with old friends. The intimate setting provided an opportunity to make new connections and deepen existing ones.
The Fall 2022 conference left me looking forward to future engagement at the ULI national and local level, to learn from others, to contribute my opinion, and to advance ideas.
Michael Fausone | Conor Commercial Real Estate
2022-23 Jeffrey Kahan Fellow
This year’s ULI Fall Meeting in Dallas was my first real experience with ULI on a national level. On Tuesday of the conference, the presenter at the Full Member Lunch (Diana Kander) put on perhaps the most thought-provoking session I attended all day. Following the lunch, the conversation with Blackstone’s Global Co-Head Kathleen McCarthy was as interesting for the general leadership and career discussion as it was for her specific real estate insights. I think the ULI Fall and Spring Meetings are a time to try and hear the most interesting and thoughtful people speak about anything, as opposed to hunting down the most obviously relevant topics.
At a high level, I found the 360° view of the industry to be very helpful in explaining the dynamics of the present moment. Hearing lenders of different size and structures talk about the distinct challenges and limitations facing institutions of differing scales, for example, helped provide some context for what I’d been seeing on the job. While the specific projects were interesting in the moment, I got the most value from the more generalized discussions of the markets and pressures facing the people in the room.
I’ll cite two concepts from the more narrowly focused project presentations that I found compelling. First, was the concept of “manufacturing land” which I thought was an interesting and instructive phrase. The idea is that large scale land sites are hard to come by in the most valuable infill markets, they are just too built up. One developer has taken the view that it can create value by acquiring large non-industrial properties (malls, amusement parks, golf courses, etc.) and undertaking large non-industrial redevelopment projects on portions of those properties as way to grease the skids for industrial development on the remaining land. For firms that have the wherewithal to execute such a strategy it could be a great way to leverage those resources and create uniquely valuable assets.
The other project presentation that I thought was particularly interesting was the discussion of an office-to-residential conversion. This is something that outside observers have been talking about for years as 80’s and 90’s vintage office buildings bleed tenants and residential housing costs continue to soar out of reach in many American cities. Conversions are not easy however, and I think the developer we heard from provided a few good heuristics for quickly evaluating the merits of any such project.
Having absorbed these and many other pearls of wisdom and expert assessments of the market, I enjoyed networking with the council members and guests at the Leather Apron bar and then at the WLI reception and various broker-hosted events. The community was very open to chatting and sharing their thoughts. I’m looking forward to connecting with some of the Chicago-based people I met in Toronto in May.
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