Highlights of the Urban Land Institute’s 2011 Fall Meeting & Urban Land Expo

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) celebrated its 75th anniversary with more than 5,900 attendees at the annual fall conference held in Los Angeles, California, from October 25-28th. Attendees were treated to engaging interviews and discussions with luminaries in various industries, including Dr. Robert Gates, Donald Bren, David Bonderman, Eli Broad, Michael Milken, and Tim Leiweke. Below are some highlights from the conference TMG would like to share with our readers:

Future of Housing Market Dependent on Job Creation

The outlook for the housing market was at the forefront of conference attendees’ minds. Currently, the market has gone from one of ownership to a rental market. Historically, new homes have comprised 16-17% of the real estate market, whereas it is now around 7%. Panelists noted that, in addition to allowing better access to capital markets, the government has a substantial role in helping to improve the housing market through job creation. People typically don’t buy homes if they lack certainty in employment. Another method suggested to help heal the housing market is the introduction of a program for companies to buy the distressed properties currently sitting idle in the market and turning them into rentals. The challenge would be to find companies who can handle the volume and manage and operate it efficiently.

Master-Planned Communities: Donald Bren

Attendees of the conference were treated to an interview with Donald Bren, Chairman of the Irvine Company, which owns 93,000 acres of land in Irvine, California that stands as a an example of a successfully-developed master-planned community.  Mr. Bren emphasized the importance of a good location to the success of his company. Other factors he said assisted in the success of his company included: having a board that has been careful to avoid making short-term decisions; having the ability to carefully research, plan, create, and develop their ideas; having the luxury of being a private company that did not have to pay quarterly dividends and was able to reinvest their cash into their asset portfolio and project infrastructure; and having mortgage-free financing on the purchased land. When asked if a similar development could be replicated in the future, Mr. Bren expressed doubt primarily because of stifling government regulations and surmounting legal hurdles.

Hotel Performance Strong for 2011 Q4

Experts and leaders in the hotel industry gathered together in a panel discussion to discuss the outlook for hotels. Michael Barnello, President and CEO of LaSalle Hotel Properties, predicted strong performance in the fourth quarter of 2011, especially since corporations are sitting on significant sums of cash and have not changed their travel policies. Hotel companies, like Hilton Worldwide, have found better value in developing existing properties, rather than developing new hotels. With the changes in the market, hoteliers may pay a premium for the former option, but the trade-off is the ability to develop the property more quickly without encountering the usual 2- to 3-year development cycle. There was consensus among the panelists when asked whether there was opportunity for multi-family housing in hotels: not likely. Matthew Sparks, Senior Vice President of Luxury and Corporate Development for Hilton Worldwide, said the development of luxury hotel and residences was complex and the residential market seemed to be years away, even on the luxury side. Steve Haggerty, Global Head of Real Estate Development for Hyatt Hotels Corporation, said developing corporate housing is not as easy as it seems and their time is better spent focusing on underserved markets.

Contributed by:

Mimi Tsai

Feasibility Analyst

Disclaimer
The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.

American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Fall Conference

Leaders of engineering companies met starting on October 18 in Las Vegas at the ACEC conference to discuss business issues and prospects.  General Session speakers included former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, an advocate for a bond-funded national infrastructure program.  Other prominent speakers included: Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval; John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil Company; and Craig Martin, CEO of Jacobs Engineering.

Re-thinking Energy

Well received was John Hofmeister, who as an energy insider wrote the book—Why We Hate the Oil Companies.   Currently Hofmeister is CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy and feels that an independent regulatory commission is needed to oversee energy regulation replacing the myriad of federal agencies presently regulating and stymieing the energy sector.  Hofmeister sees the need for trillion dollar per year expenditures by the private sector rebuilding the U.S.’s energy infrastructure–creating a safer and more efficient sector as well as 4 million jobs.  However, the current regulatory regime prohibits these private sector investments from going forward.  Unfortunately neither the national infrastructure program nor the rebuilding of the energy sector is nearing reality—bad news for engineering companies.  Hofmeister feels that the past achievements of engineers are substantial and with the right policy, we, engineers, could solve many of the problems that the country is facing today.

Engineering Practice

A General Session speaker who discussed a need for saving lives in the engineering and construction industries by a renewed emphasis on safety was Craig Martin, CEO of Jacobs Engineering.  He also noted that Jacobs is very conscious of ethics laws and requirements both in the U.S and internationally in conducting its business.  When discussing changes in the engineering business that we could expect, he foresaw the ending of the federal Brooks Act and the use of Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) leading to the use of price in the selection of providers for engineering services.  Needless to say this brought about quite a reaction from the members of ACEC given that a pillar of ACEC’s program is the expanded use of QBS.

Importance of Infrastructure Projects

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, Republican, made a favorable expression on the crowd talking about the importance of projects like the Hoover Dam and the O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge at Hoover Dam as well other projects of the same size and scale to Nevada and the nation.  To me he looks like Vice Presidential candidate material in the 2012 Presidential election.

Technical Sessions

Technical sessions were held on public private partnership projects in California and Florida that generally involve revenue generation for the private operator, a proposed infrastructure program financed by a 1% sales tax in Georgia, structuring design-build contracts, successfully navigating media relations as well as sessions on services marketing, information technology, human resources and other matters of interest to the business of engineering companies.

Contributed by:

Anthony Mumphrey, President, ACEC Louisiana

Disclaimer
The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.

Upcoming Conferences

TMG Staff are active in their respective fields, regularly participating in industry conferences and continuing education programs.  Over the next few months, TMG staff will be attending:

  • American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Annual Meeting & EXPO 2011: October 2-5, 2011; New Orleans, LA
  • Global Gaming Expo 2011 (G2E):  October 3-6, Las Vegas, NV
  • Lorman Education Series “Public Contracts and Procurement Regulations”: October 14, 2011,  Kenner, LA
  • American Council of Engineering Companies Fall Conference: October 19-22, Las Vegas, NV
  • New England Gaming Summit: November 14-15, Mashantucket, CT
  • CCAA 35th Annual Conference on the Caribbean and Central America: November 30-December 2, New Orleans, LA

Disclaimer
The views, interpretations, or strategies expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of TMG Consulting. This site is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. TMG Consulting makes no representation as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information on this site and will not be liable for damages arising from its display or use.