Early this April, a group of Young Leaders from ULI district councils stretching from Chicago to New York to Atlanta convened for the ULI Young Leaders Exchange Program in New Orleans to learn about the infrastructure growth and recent real estate developments since Hurricane Katrina. Through a busy agenda coordinated by the gracious hosts of ULI New Orleans, our entire group of Young Leaders was able to form professional and social bonds that will last a lifetime.
The most interesting learning experience I took away from the event was the strategy the city has adopted to attract capital back into New Orleans to redevelop and improve the buildings and infrastructure that suffered significant destruction from Hurricane Katrina. A recently finished redevelopment of the Joy Theatre displayed how the city is creatively using financing products based on tax benefits to motivate developers who are looking for attractive yields to take on projects. A combination of being vacant prior to the storm and the water from the storm left the theatre in poor condition. In order to complete the capital stack for the project, McDonnel Group, the developer, needed to finish the entire redevelopment of the theatre in 4 months before their tax credits were due to expire. Ignoring the traditional construction method, they fast tracked the project by allocating a tremendous amount of resources to it and keeping the city constantly informed of their progress to expedite the approvals process. Their success with the Joy Theatre has inspired a suitable development model to get the city of New Orleans back up and running again.
Despite the busy schedule filled with real estate activities, the entire group thoroughly enjoyed the New Orleans food and nightlife options. Our hosts from ULI New Orleans did a great job guiding us to activities that did not involve the beads tradition but were just as fun. From the Oyster Bars to the traditional and appropriately named Hurricane drinks at Pat O’Briens, we experienced it all. My favorite part of the trip was the Rooftops and Courtyards tour which started off at the rooftop of the Westin Hotel overlooking the ships and ferries on the river. After enjoying our extra dirty vodka martinis, the group moved on to various other local spots around town.
With the perfect mix of professional and social activities, the program in New Orleans created long lasting memories and friendships. I would highly encourage this program to all of the Young Leaders as a great way for growth within the local and national industry. I’ll definitely be looking forward to the next ULI Young Leaders Exchange Program.Authored by Mishal Patel, Realogic Analytics