Shellan Rodriguez’s 2017 ULI Fall Meeting Blog

 In All News, Program Reflections

The ULI Fall Meeting this past October was an incredible experience. The energy I felt throughout the conference was impressive – having opportunities to learn from, and visit with, small and large scale developers, community planners, urban designers, financial analysts, property managers, entrepreneurs, and local policymakers who share a passion for real estate in urban places is a tremendous opportunity. Although it is challenging to summarize a jam packed few days of non-stop experience into a few key takeaways, I will attempt.

First, being in downtown Los Angeles offered an experience of itself: the construction cranes, the luxury apartment towers, foreign capital and the outstanding poverty was mind blowing. I’m convinced, there is no better way to get acquainted with LA then the DTLA Renaissance Tour with an incredibly knowledgeable tour guide, Hal Bastian. In a few short hours, I learned a ton about the land use history of LA, discovering why growth occurred in certain ways, saw beautiful historic architecture, experienced how the food economy creates value in place, and got a sense of the phenomenal real estate investment that is occurring, as well as, the overwhelming challenges the city is dealing with. The tour was a highlight of the Fall Meeting for me.

Throughout the Fall Meeting certain ideas seemed to come up in various ways throughout my discussions and within the sessions I attended. Housing in regards to a) having enough of it and b) having the right product to serve consumers, including millennials and the workforce, came up time and again. Housing affordability continues to be an important part of the housing discussion. Additionally, the idea that resiliency matters now more than ever in regards to building construction, community planning and infrastructure design and delivery was discussed in various ways. Specifically, the idea that disruption whether that is in federal policy (i.e. tax reform, immigration reform) or natural disasters have great effect on not only the real estate market but the lives of the most vulnerable people in the most vulnerable places.

After attending the Women’s Leadership Initiative Event at WeWork in DTLA the reality of how the shared economy is changing the workplace was very interesting. Through thoughtful design and flexible spaces the office space serves various needs from corporate secondary offices to start ups and entrepreneurs by taking the hassle out of the office lease, administration and, quite frankly, making it cool. It was a great place to network and the WeWork product was new to me and very appealing.

In closing, the Fall Meeting provided opportunities that I wouldn’t have access to in any other setting. To meet the teams who are developing and managing WeWork as well as developers building unique communities in top tiered markets and are creatively are addressing the changing needs of their customers was invaluable. Thank you to the Rose Center for my sponsorship and providing me with an incredible experience.

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