Saturday, October 24, 2015

Waterton / Women's Leadership Workshops / Technology and Real Estate / CRE Tech Intersect / Moving to Asheville, NC

Every so often, I get an email asking if I’m ok or someone approaches me at an industry event and says, ‘I haven’t seen your column in a while. Did I drop off the list?’

Yes, I’m okay – thanks for asking!  Yes, I haven’t written in a while (call it ‘Writers Block’ perhaps) and – No, no one ever drops off the distribution list (unless you choose to).

With a new commercial real estate blog seemingly launched every couple of weeks and all the postings on LinkedIn, I didn’t want to become part of the ‘noise.’  If we thought we were suffering from information overload a few years ago, I believe information and opinion on the web has been taken to a drastic extreme.  However, I’ve been encouraged by a number of friends and loyal readers to continue publishing.  So here I go again….


My partner Liz Weiner and I attended the 20th anniversary celebration of Waterton in Chicago last week.  It was a great party, which also launched their new brand, “Waterton” (vs. 3 separate names for different divisions). 

Many of the ‘Who’s Who?’ in Chicago commercial real estate were there.  The venue was very special – the actual stage at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park! The only downer for Chicagoans that night was watching the Mets beat the Cubs!!

Congratulations once again to David Schwartz, Pete Vilim and their 2,000 colleagues at Waterton!

Commercial Real Estate Women’s Leadership Workshops

Liz and I have now conducted 10 open-enrollment Women’s Leadership Workshops.  Women from 51 different firms have attended these programs - exclusively for women in the commercial / institutional real estate industry. 

We have been so fortunate that firms have donated conference rooms for these workshops – in support of women’s leadership.  It’s with great thanks that I acknowledge those ‘sponsors’ here:
  • goulston & storrs
  • Hunt Realty Investments
  • Hunton & Williams
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Newmark Grubb Knight Frank
  • Paladin Realty Partners
  • Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler
  • PM Realty Group
  • Zeller Realty Group

At the suggestion of a number of workshop participants, we will be launching a co-ed workshop series designed to help men in the industry better understand some of the challenges that face women when looking to get invited to ‘The Big Boy Table.’ Just this term itself reminds us of the male domination at senior levels in the commercial real estate industry!

Technology and Real Estate

Andy Herz, of the law firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, has written a great piece, which he presented at a recent meeting of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers.  Here are some of my takeaways:

Changes Desired in Space Requirements of Progressive Companies:
  • Open Work Areas
  • Flexible Layouts
  • Roofs and Terraces
  • Amenities (i.e. ping pong & pool tables, gyms, yoga studios)
  • Bicycles being brought into office buildings
  • Excluding Competitors from buildings (to avoid poaching of employees)
  • Business Continuity Systems and Plans
  • Informal Use of Premises by collaborators, partners, vendors and outsource providers

Andy also writes about how ‘Self-driving Vehicles May Change the Entire Equation’.
  • Commuter cars could function as offices – since no one has to watch the road or drive
  • Parking lots would be unnecessary because after the passenger(s) has disembarked, the car would drive itself home or to an out of the way storage area – until summoned for the return trip
  • Larger driverless vehicles could serve as a modified form of mass transportation

There’s a lot more interesting information in this article.  If you’d like a copy, please email me and I’ll arrange to have one delivered to you (in a self-driving vehicle of course!)

CRE Tech Intersect

This week I attended the CRE Tech Intersect event in New York City. 400 people flocked to a raw office floor at 1633 Broadway donated by one of the event sponsors, The Paramount Group. 

While there were many companies offering ways of managing data more efficiently and effectively, I was particularly intrigued by several companies with very creative missions:
  • Chessiecap – the first real estate technology investment bank
  • OppSites – matchmaking for cities and developers
  • LiquidSpace – turn extra space into extra cash flow
  • Managed by Q – cleaning service platform
  • RealConnex - a platform to connect the entire real estate ecosystem.

CRE Tech Intersect founder, Pierce Nienken, has done a great job in bringing together today’s generation of commercial real estate technology providers and users.  It’s a far cry from the very first Commercial Real Estate Technology Conference held in NYC in 1997.  That one, organized by the industry’s first blogger, Peter Pike, had six exhibitors (including the start-up I was with) and about 40 attendees. It’s terrific to see the commercial real estate industry finally embracing technology – in a big way!

Moving to Asheville, NC

I’ve flown almost 3 million miles in my life - the vast majority of it for business.  While it’s wonderful to get on a plane and magically land in a different place, there’s nothing like getting in the car and driving.  Over the summer I drove the entire Skyline Drive – which runs 105 miles North-South along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. The views are wonderful!

Then, just last week, I drove a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway – starting in North Carolina and getting off in Virginia.  The fall foliage and vistas were both breathtaking and spectacular.

The first trip, in August, was for the Felix Family Reunion in Asheville, NC.  It included my two sons and their families (4 grandchildren), my brother and his son and family (two more kids).  It was great! And, as at every Felix get-together (are all families the same as us?), there was virtually continuous eating, talking about eating, or making plans to eat! The Myron Violation* in all its glory!

Shortly after returning from the second trip to Asheville I decided to move there! I’ve since signed a lease on an apartment and am relocating from New York City in just a few weeks! Whenever I mention Asheville, I hear such positive responses – either people have been there and liked it, or know people who say great things about it.  While I’m not excited about the packing, I’m really looking forward to the move. Stay tuned!

*The Myron Violation:  named many years ago after my late uncle Myron Silverman.  Let’s say you’re eating a meal and someone starts talking about another meal they had in the past – instead of simply enjoying the present.  That’s a MYRON VIOLATION! 

On the Road…

Oct. 26-27:  NAREIM Executive Officers’ Meeting, Chicago, IL 

Nov. 9: Steve’s Almost Annual Pre-Holiday Pizza/Drink Thing at Joe G’s, 254 W. 56th St. (bet. B’way and 8th Ave). Downstairs from the DaVinci Hotel).  5:30 – 8:30pm.  Join your industry friends. No RSVP necessary.

Nov. 10-11:  PERE Summit, New York City (I’m moderating a panel on entity investing) 

Jan. 2016: Felix / Weiner Women’s Leadership Workshop, Laguna Beach, CA

Jan. 26-27: NAREIM Acquisitions and Dispositions, Beverly Hills, CA 

Jan. 2016:  Felix / Weiner Women’s Leadership Workshop, San Francisco

Feb. 2016:  Felix / Weiner Women’s Leadership Workshop, Dallas

Feb. 2016:  Felix / Weiner Women’s Leadership Workshop, Houston

Feb. 16-17: NAREIM Research and Investment Management, Chicago, IL 

Apr. 6-7: NAREIM Asset and Portfolio Management, Atlanta, GA 

Apr. 8, 2016:  Felix / Weiner Women’s Leadership Workshop, Atlanta

Apr. 13-14:  PERE Global Investor Forum, Los Angeles


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