Event Blog

Southern California Development Forum brings value through educational, networking and philanthropic events around current developments in the A/E/C world.  Read all about our recent events here.

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  • 05/13/2022 2:30 PM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

    The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) is an organization that brings together a community of real estate leaders on the latest trends, strategies, projects and provides networking opportunities. The organization hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, discussing what’s developing on the hospitality development front. 

    Malcolm Davies, Founder and Senior Managing Director of Way Capital, served as the moderator for panelists Doane Liu, Chief Tourism Officer for the City of Los Angeles; Jamie Cho, Director of Development for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants; and Matt Bailly, Vice President of Real Estate for Prospera Hotels, Inc.

    The Hospitality Industry is On the Rebound After COVID-19

    The hospitality industry witnessed a significant disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, but all indications are that the hospitality industry will continue moving toward recovery in 2022 and beyond.

    “The mayor of Los Angeles set a goal when he took office in 2013 to reach 50 million visitors by 2020, and we achieved that in 2018,” said Doane Liu, Chief Tourism Officer for the City of Los Angeles. “Following the disruption of the pandemic, the numbers we’re getting from the tourism board shows an increase in tourism and a positive upward trend. We’re hopeful by 2023 we will be back to pre-pandemic occupancy levels.” 

    Leisure Travel Makes a Swift Comeback

    Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants have seen an influx of leisure travel, with more flexibility in travel plans than ever before. Cho believes this is a result of hybrid and remote work.

    “Pre COVID, most travelers would check out on a Friday or Sunday, but what we’re seeing now is people leaving on a Wednesday or a Monday,” said Jamie Cho, Director of Development for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. “People are itching to travel again. I’ve even heard people calling it the year of revenge travel.”

    Although people are traveling again, business travel is one area that has not seemed to pick up pre-pandemic paces. Liu says business travel has only rebounded about half of what it was in early 2019. 

    The Need for In-Person Meetings is Here to Stay

    “I think the reality is, once we opened the doors and started having in-person meetings again, normalcy returned,” said Matt Bailly, Vice President of Real Estate for Prospera Hotels, Inc. “The need to do business face to face is not going to change.”

    Bailley says his company uses Zoom to stay connected, but also makes it a priority to meet in person at least once a month. This, as a result, creates more travel and hotel demand.

    “During the pandemic, we were all relying on Zoom, and it actually created more of a need for in-person meetings,” explained Cho. “Zoom can only take you so far.”

    As the world emerges from the pandemic, one thing remains the same, the need for human connection. Although the way we do business, where we work, and how we travel might change, there will always be a demand for face-to-face interactions in our professional and personal lives. The hospitality industry is the medium that supports this, and will only continue to progress forward as we push towards the return to normalcy again.

  • 04/22/2022 12:57 PM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

    The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) is an organization that brings together a community of real estate leaders on the latest trends, strategies, projects and provides networking opportunities. The organization hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, discussing how new technology and the infrastructure bill is helping advance the aviation industry and the challenges faced from the viewpoint of local airport authorities.

    Ravi Singh, Director of the Los Angeles Region for Burns, served as the moderator for panelists Patrick Lammerding of Hollywood Burbank Airport, Michelle Brantley of Ontario International Airport, and Robert Schultz of the Los Angeles World Airports.

    The Aviation Industry Looks Towards a More Sustainable Future

    We are in an era of innovative technology and sustainability initiatives developing in the aviation industry, from electric aircraft to hydrogen fuel and new legislative funding. Correspondingly, airports and airlines are making significant efforts to decarbonize their operations and assets to pursue a more sustainable future.

    “When it comes to impacting our environmental footprint, we see the biggest opportunity in our transportation system,” said Robert Shultz, Chief of Airport Planning for Los Angeles World Airports. “A few years ago, we developed a mobility planning unit and have really been focused on how we can embrace demand-based policies to optimize our operations.”

    Emerging Technology in Southern California

    As technology advances in Southern California, discussions around flying taxis, air shuttles and flying autonomous vehicles becoming very likely in the next decade, industry leaders are keeping a keen pulse on the advancing technology.

    “We are definitely accounting for the future of transportation in our planning processes, but until it becomes commonly accessible and affordable to the public, it will be difficult to implement,” said Michelle Brantley, Chief Planning Officer for Ontario International Airport.

    Challenges in Project Development

    “We’re seeing a mass revival in travel, but it’s not sustainable to forecast that it will continue based on the last few years’ resurgences” said Patrick Lammerding, Deputy Executive Director of Planning & Development for Hollywood Burbank Airport. “The passenger statistics and revenue fluctuation make it particularly difficult to plan large projects.”

    According to Uniting Aviation (ICAO), global passenger traffic recovered modestly in 2021, with the latest ICAO economic impact analysis of COVID-19 on civil aviation revealing that the number of passengers worldwide was 2.3 billion or 49 percent below pre-pandemic (2019) levels, up from the 60 percent drop seen in 2020.

    Infrastructure Bill Propels the Aviation Industry Forward

    The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in 2021 will provide vital support for airports and advanced air mobility initiatives with $25 billion in new funding. This bill is one of the largest infrastructure plans in decades that will inject a total $550 billion in new spending for infrastructure in the U.S. to modernize the country’s transportation systems.

    Brantley expressed excitement for the funding but fears the timing of it could push airports to send projects forward that work in the moment rather than analyzing if it’s the right for the future of the facility.

    As the aviation industry navigates the delicate economy of today, airport authorities remain excited for the future and the new funding that will propel aviation forward into a more sustainable future. 

  • 03/08/2022 9:40 AM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

    Southern California Development Forum (SCDF), an organization that brings together a community of real estate experts on the latest trends, strategies, projects and provides networking opportunities, hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, discussing Senate Bill 169 and the challenges universities and developers face to build affordable student housing.  

    Samuel Jung, Vice President of Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions, served as the moderator for the panelists from The Michaels Organization, American Campus Communities, Riverside Community College District, California State University, and Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD).   

    SB 169 Funding Student Housing 

    Did you know about 400,000 community college students have experienced homelessness in the state of California? That is about the size of the city of Long Beach or Oakland, and larger than the city of Irvine and Santa Ana. This is an alarming issue that university leaders are working tirelessly to find solutions to with the support of the state legislature.   

    In September 2021, Governor Newsom signed SB 169, an education bill that would establish the Higher Education Student Housing Grant Program, to provide one-time grants for the construction of student housing or for the acquisition and renovation of commercial properties into student housing for the purpose of providing affordable, low-cost housing options for students enrolled in public postsecondary education in the state of California.  

    “SB 169 is a starting point and has brought more awareness to the issues and struggles students face, but it certainly is not the end solution,” said Raoul Amescua, Vice President of Development for The Michaels Organization. 

    “It’s a step in the right direction for immediate aid,” explains Jason Taylor, Vice President of Public Private Partnerships for American Campus Communities. “Affordable student housing drives students out of the off-campus market and can lower the pressure on the cost of rental housing in the area. Also, students tend to graduate quicker when they live in student housing.” 

    Challenges in Building Student Housing  

    One of the challenges in building student housing is balancing the support that the housing needs, but keeping it cost efficient and affordable.   

    “Student housing needs specific amenities such as dining and study spaces but how do we make housing fit the needs of the students, but still be a Buick instead of a Mercedes,” said Paul Gannoe, Chief of Planning and Design for California State University. 

    Homeless and Housing Insecurity  

    “It’s important as a district to look at the housing problem and also the insecurity, because being homeless needs immediate attention, but housing insecurity also needs to be addressed,” said Dr. Rueben Smith, Vice Chancellor & Chief Facilities Executive for Los Angeles Community College District. “Once we separate the two, we can provide an immediate impact as well as plans to move forward.”  

    In summary, SB 169 is moving in the right direction to provide urgent assistance to address student homelessness in the state of California but the challenge of building student housing is keeping it affordable.  

  • 01/14/2022 11:16 AM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

    The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF), an organization that brings together a community of real estate leaders on the latest trends, strategies, projects and provides networking opportunities, hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, discussing where the built environment is headed in 2022.

    Presented by Dave Gilmore, President and CEO of DesignIntelligence and Design Futures Council, offered a glimpse at what lies ahead in 2022 for the AEC industry amidst the global challenges we’ve been experiencing. He explored multiple asset classes of development, sharing those which will be most disrupted and may prove the most challenging. Leveraging his economic acumen and conversations with real estate leaders across the industry, Gilmore predicted a range of trends we can expect in 2022.

    Trends to Expect in 2022: The Challenges

    Slow Recovery

    Slow recovery in the service sector is dampening growth and represents a downside risk to the U.S. economy.

    Gilmore believes we will continue to see high inflation across all sectors as a result of supply chain issues and international geopolitical strains.

    According to Lasse Sinikallas, an economic analyst from Fastmarkets RISI, in 2022, growth in all major regions is expected to slow as reality sets in after an initial post-COVID boost. National debt levels are high, supply-side and logistics issues persist in everything from microchips to US housing stock and inflation is rising. “In the next few months, we’ll be watching central banks closely to see whether or how they will intervene. Of course, we’ll be watching China’s economic indicators most keenly – any deviation from forecast there will have a ripple effect through the entire global economy.”

    The Effects of International Geopolitical Strains

    Gilmore notes it is important to be aware of rising tensions with China and several other countries.

    “If there is any type of military clash, it will send signals globally that will suppress investment for a period of time,” states Gilmore. “Another major concern is cyber security.”

    Cybersecurity Risks

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Australian Cybersecurity Center, and the UK’s National Cybersecurity Center have warned that hackers associated with the government of Iran are targeting transportation, healthcare, and public health sectors.

    Trends to Expect in 2022: The Opportunities

    The largest funds that go into the built environment are from pension funds, insurance dollars, and private equity.

    The industries most poised for success in 2022 include: property technology, healthcare, hospitality and retail.

    Property Technology

    The property technology sector is believed to be the next trillion-dollar industry as it grows to be a point of necessity.

    “We’ve been limited in property technology and we think that production will accelerate in the upcoming years,” said Gilmore. “It is far more than managing a building’s cooling or lighting system. If it’s deployed correctly, it will allow the building to have its own network and nervous system. Though, property technology opens a wider landscape for cybersecurity problems we need to keep in mind.”

    Healthcare

    “The healthcare industry is on its way back up, but is not believed to pass pre-pandemic levels,” said Gilmore. “So many of our healthcare institutions were damaged in the last few years that their credit score rating has dropped, making them a higher-risk target for investment. On the other hand, we are seeing a lot of capital being moved throughout that sector.”

    Hospitality

    As Americans are learning to live with the pandemic and emerging again, the hospitality industry has begun to rebound.

    According to the Hospitality Global Market Report 2022, the global hospitality market is expected to grow from $3,952.87 billion in 2021 to $4,548.42 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1 percent. This growth is due to the recovery after the closure of commercial activities as a result of the pandemic that resulted in operational challenges. The hospitality market growth is also on an upward swing as a result of the economic growth forecasted in both developed and developing countries, as well as hotels utilizing richer technologies to impact the customer experience, including automating processes for guests.

    Retail

    According to CBRE, many factors are impacting retail opportunities including the more efficient use of retail space with sales per square foot, record levels of venture capital targeting retail-focused companies, and consumer spending, predicted to rise in 2022 with a build-up of savings during the pandemic, and more inbound international travel in tourism-heavy markets.

    Baby Boomers and New Construction

    Another interesting transformation Gilmore noted that is pretty significant is the amount of funding being placed into senior living with over 70 billion private equity dollars that have been invested over the last couple years.

    “Baby Boomers, the wealthiest demographic, are wanting to see new constructs and expressions of what senior living looks like,” said Gilmore. “I believe senior living will move to private economy versus public economy.”

    There are a lot of challenges and opportunities. One thing is for sure: the built environment will continue to play a key role in all aspects of our life as it impacts every area of how we live, work, and play.

  • 11/16/2021 1:38 PM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

    The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF), an organization that provides networking opportunities for those in the real estate community, hosted a panel discussion on November 9th, 2021, about the successes and pitfalls in new housing developments from the perspective of Los Angeles’ leading developers.  

    Bradley Cox, senior managing director for Trammell Crow Company (TCC), a commercial real estate development and investment company, served as the moderator for panelists from Hines, Mercy Housing and Watt Investment Partners.  

    Addressing Southern California’s Housing Crisis  

    There is a broad consensus that new housing is a key part of addressing rising rental rates and home prices. With the economy on the rebound from a pandemic-fueled setback, apartment vacancies remain low and new construction housing is no match for the demand.  

    Jennifer McElyea, a senior managing partner for Watt Investment Partners, proposes that more inclusionary housing will be required in the future, and learning the ins and outs of affordable housing processes will give you a competitive advantage. 

    “Tax credit rules and funding sources change every year,” said McElyea. “When you pivot from something that’s predominantly market rate to predominantly affordable, your capital plan and return on investment changes.”  

    Construction Processes in Building Modular Housing  

    Ed Holder and his team are supporting Mercy Housing’s commitment to modular housing with several projects including two in San Francisco.  

    “Both are supportive housing sites that were funded by the city,” said Holder. “We really learned a lot from the builders, teams, and partners that allowed us to transmit new knowledge from San Francisco to the city of Los Angeles. It’s not fully implemented yet, but at least at a director level, people can resemble a trend.”  

    Holder continues on to express that in progressing housing initiatives, it’s really about changing the system, then laying down the groundwork and providing a pipeline for future developers to follow in repetition.  

    Moving Affordable Housing Projects Through the City of Los Angeles 

    There aren’t many avenues for the allocation of private capital in the production of affordable housing, thus making it a very difficult and tedious process to complete. 

    “The challenge is getting your income high enough to make the numbers and getting your return on the investment for private capital,” said McElyea.  

    Watt Investment Partners has been buying properties in the San Fernando Valley and other parts of Los Angeles and using them as candidates for affordable housing. McElyea believes there still needs to be new builds, but there’s also an abundance of opportunity to convert existing market stock at very low costs.  

    “We need predictability at a state level,” states Holder. “If we could get reoccurring state sourcing with certainty, we can start planning development projects with certainty.” 

    Holder believes having reliable state sources significantly expedites the process of affordable housing development to help people get off of the streets.  

    In summary, entitlement processes, tax rules, state regulations, and funding sources are consistent obstacles faced by developers. In order for industry-leaders to continue to combat Southern California’s housing crisis, innovative processes and strategic capital plans will have to evolve with the continuous changes of California’s rules and regulations.

  • 10/15/2021 10:08 AM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

    The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF), an organization that provides networking opportunities for those in the real estate community, hosted a panel discussion on October 12, 2021, about the growth in the life science market sector. The panel provided an owner’s perspective of what is valued during the growth period as well as the implications on facilities location and design to accommodate the new technologies. 

    Kevin Klein, a life science specialist with over 20 years of experience who recently led Global Front End project and portfolio planning at Amgen, served as the moderator for panelists from Kite Pharma (A Gilead company), Amgen, Takeda and AbbVie.  

    Growth in the Life Science Market Sector in Southern California  

    While the COVID pandemic has created challenges, it has also reinforced the importance of the life science market sector. Growth in the sector is being driven by the introduction of new technologies such as cell and gene therapies and increased global demand.  

    “Takeda has a large molecule and cell therapy business where we are looking for treatments for rare diseases around the world,” said Brian Cooper, director of new product introductions at Takeda. “We also do a lot of gene therapy for our oncology group.” 

    As explained by Cooper, cell therapy is introducing cells into an area to treat a modality. Gene therapy is the process of extracting the material and modifying the genetic component using the gene backbone to develop a therapeutic treatment or grow cells with that modified genetic material.    

    “COVID has really accelerated the life science industry and everyone has been scrambling to increase capacity so that they can ensure product supply,” said David Steinberg, Director Facilities at AbbVie. 

    Largely, the life science industry has proven to be resilient and ever-growing. Although COVID has restricted many things, lab work and facility support has continued and become a critical segment in the expansion of research in medicine.  

    Supply Chain Disruptions and Implications on Capital Projects  

    The disrupted supply chain has made it difficult to stay on schedule for projects and manufacturers. Materials that used to take six months to obtain are now taking 18-24 months.  

    “Contract manufacturing is where we are outsourcing to another company to do the work for us,” said Talena Williamson, senior manager of project controls, construction, and external supply at Amgen. “COVID has changed our approach to look more in our region for contract manufacturing because of the travel and supply disruptions across the different continents and countries.”  

    There has been a glass shortage and companies are getting pushed down the line for materials because they need glass for vials to store COVID vaccines.  

    “Subcontractors and contractors are doing their best to leverage their stance in the supply chain, but ultimately, the people making the vaccines will get the materials first and the rest of us just have to fight over the scraps,” said Cooper.  

    Unfortunately, a lot of large capital projects were negotiated before the pandemic began, so subcontractors and contractors are having a hard time meeting the performance clauses that were put in place prior. Many companies, as a result, are restructuring their physical assets based on the supply chain tightening.  

    Life Science Market Looks Ahead at Sustainability and Digital Design  

    The life science industry is growing in Los Angeles and a common denominator that has become prevalent among industry-leading companies is sustainability. 

    “Sustainability is really big with AbbVie,” said Steinberg. “We have large goals to reduce carbon emissions by 25% by 2025 and 42% by 2031.” 

    Many companies have adopted a sustainability component in their bidding criteria. According to Cooper, each project is evaluated on its impact on the site, as well as a competitor analysis on other bidders’ sustainability records.  

    “We are being asked to look forward as far as design in order to reduce our carbon footprint and the amount of labor that goes into the work,” said Cooper.  

    Cooper explains an example of this reduction looks like a tradeoff between a traditional warehouse with forklift drivers to a robotic warehouse. You can fit the same amount of storage in a quarter of the space and retrieve it in a quarter of the speed.  

    Fluidity in Office Spaces 

    There has been a lot of discussions among companies on the right time to return to the office. Williamson says there are substantial shifts happening from pre-COVID to post-COVID. 

    “COVID has forced a lot of industries to rethink what is really required from an office space and in-person perspective,” stated Williamson. “I think we’re moving towards an increase in larger collaborative spaces with a more virtual approach.” 

    Many propose companies will migrate away from cubicle setups to larger collaborative areas and the majority of the work will be done from home. The office space will be used for gatherings to network and collaborate among teams.  

    In summary, flexibility, speed and agility are critical for companies in the life science industry. Those who have jumped on being more fluid in their approach to design and thought processes during the last few years are doing very well in the industry and will continue to propel the future of research and medicine.  

  • 09/17/2021 9:49 AM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

    The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF), an organization that provides networking opportunities for those in the real estate community, hosted a panel discussion on September 14, 2021, about future post-pandemic strategies and how design and construction are changing in healthcare. 

    Alicia Wachtel, executive director, facilities planning, design and construction at Cedars-Sinai, a nonprofit and multispecialty academic health science center located in Los Angeles, California, served as the moderator for panelists from Kaiser Permanente and Providence.   

    Partnerships are Paving the Way for Healthcare Capital Strategies 

    “It’s very valuable to have various contacts in the industry guiding us in forming strategies and implementing them in the early stages of development,” said Suzanne Schwab, land use and planning director, real estate strategy and director of operations for Providence. 

    Providence and Kaiser Permanente have joined forces to expand their reach of care and encourage the ongoing development of healthcare in Southern California; the goal is to create a robust health platform by leveraging the strengths of each institution.   

    The partnership we have with Providence is one that addresses urgent community needs,” said Joseph Stasney, national director hospital center of excellence – program delivery for Kaiser Permanente. “The high desert is underserved. As we both face similar challenges, it made absolute sense for the two organizations to partner together.”  

    The Future of the Healthcare Built Environment 

    “Healthcare systems have had pandemic plans in place for many years but have had to course-correct,” said Wachtel. “Part of the course correction is closely monitoring the market changes that can affect capital strategies for large developments.” 

    Cedar-Sinai had plans to start construction on a larger replacement hospital in Marina del Rey, but with an uncertain market, have postponed the expansion project.   

    “On the outpatient side, we paused a considerable number of our medical office building developments for Kaiser Permanente,” said Stasney. “As everyone, we did a lot of rethinking on outpatient care as we experienced a large volume increase in video visits.” 

    Transform model of care is what Cedar-Sinai calls their outpatient clinics’ collaborative spaces. When the pandemic started, they stopped utilizing those spaces and had to make substantial adjustments in how they see and move patients through the system.  

    “We developed virtual waiting,” said Wachtel. “We would have patients waiting in their cars and when it was their turn, take them to their room immediately.” 

    These changes have brought forth conversations on eliminating collaborative spaces and common areas and utilizing video visits exclusively for outpatient care.  

    Utilizing Unused Space for Workforce Housing 

    Schwab stated Providence is working on a new initiative with their real estate department on tackling workforce housing. Instead of a sign-on bonus, you might get a special rate on an apartment subsidized through Providence. The institution is working with the development community on how they can develop vacant spaces for Providence employees.  

    “Home and Community Care, an extension of Providence, provides supportive housing and one thing we’ve seen come out of the pandemic is a dire need for workforce housing,” said Schwab. “Caregivers cannot afford their rents and that has been exacerbated by the pandemic over the last 18 months.” 

    Construction Delays and Design Changes in Healthcare 

    With supply, material and cost chains fluctuating, it has been difficult to acquire materials for capital projects.  

    “You can lock in a price for a material and the supplier will honor your $10.00 offer for a widget, but someone else will offer $15.00 and move ahead of you in the sequence,” said Stasney. “Rearranging to address the challenges that are constantly changing is like a game of chess. We make one move, the suppliers make another move, the market changes, and you have to think outside of the box on how to deal with the challenges you have in front of you.” 

    Many discussions have taken place concerning design in healthcare spaces to be better equipped for the pandemic. Cedar-Sinai did a study on how they plan and design future buildings to analyze and identify strategies for improvement.   

    “I think an important point here is we want to be able to serve all patients,” said Wachtel. “So how do we take care of highly contagious patients without compromising our other patients.” 

    Kaiser Permanente has introduced a national design standards council to review the dialogue between clinicians and facility workers to try and put forth an official guideline. Stasney says it is an active dialogue that will continue to be evaluated.  

    In summary, collaborative relationships between organizations and employees have played a fundamental role in advancing healthcare platforms and capital strategies during a global pandemic.  

  • 07/09/2021 10:38 AM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

    The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF), an organization that provides networking opportunities for those in the real estate community, hosted a panel discussion on June 8, 2021, about how colleges and universities will effectively return to campus this fall through the lens of the built environment. The informative session discussed lessons learned from the pandemic, distance learning, bringing back the collegiate experience, and the impact of revenue and enrollment on planning and building sequencing.

    Hakim Chambers, deputy program director for the Los Angeles City College District (LACCD), a billion-dollar Capital Improvement Program, served as the moderator for panelists from Cal State Long Beach, UCLA, UC Berkley, Stanford and USC.

    Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

    “The pandemic has forced us to look at our behaviors and how we operate, to really reflect on how we have been doing things so far and how we can improve them. Working from home and video conferencing has allowed us to connect with one another, but we’re still missing that one connection, the human connection,” said Hakim Chambers, deputy program director at LACCD.

    Chambers amplifies how important it is for student development in education to experience in-person education and the impact it has on their college experience.

    Students Returning to On-Campus Learning Fall of 2021

    We’re working closely with LA County Public Health to identify what that means when we come back in the fall; our plan is to come back at 80% in-person classes,” said Peter Hendrickson, associate vice chancellor at UCLA.

    UCLA is preparing to reopen outdoor activity areas, recreation programs, and planning for a somewhat normal fall quarter. UC Berkley will be in-person this fall, similar to UCLA, but classes with over 200 students will be remote.

    New learning models developed during the pandemic will be more flexible and inclusive. With hybrid models becoming more common, many businesses and schools are experimenting with different structures. UCLA is exploring the option of outdoor learning attributed to what was introduced as the “healthy campus initiative.”

    As the COVID infection rate decreases and mandates come to an end, university leaders are working diligently to acclimate staff and students to new learning models, local data and regulations. A lot of experimentation is anticipated to see what works and what doesn’t as staff and students navigate unprecedented times.

    Bringing Back the Collegiate Experience

    “Students have felt disengaged,” said Monica Makutano, associate director of design and construction at California State University Long Beach. Student and faculty focus groups were conducted and the feedback received showed students value the face-to-face interaction, but also enjoy having Zoom to offer more flexibility. Staff, however, expressed they felt they were more effective working from home. 

    “It is kind of a big question. There are still a lot of unknowns, but we are headed to a positive place. We are grateful to have those focus groups to try and get back to what the future looks like,” said Makutano.

    The Impact of Revenue and Enrollment on Planning and Building Sequencing

    Housing and hospitality services were significantly impacted with limited numbers on campus using services during the pandemic. Hendrickson believes it will take four years to recover from the effects.

    “We have about 15,000 beds on campus and at the height of the pandemic we only had around 750 students on campus,” stated Hendrickson.

    USC, which lost several beds due to building closures was intending to break ground January 2020 on a new building in USC Village that has been put on hold for various reasons.

    “We actually have had to lease space and add an offsite location that is not part of USC housing to accommodate the number of students we have joining us in the fall, specifically the freshman class that is about 200 over what we normally accept,” said Barbara Sladeck, assistant vice president at USC Auxiliary Services.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly created many challenges for higher education institutions, and while university leaders are staying diligent and constantly evolving to the current issues, many suggest it will take years to come back from this crisis.

    “We never go back; we are always moving forward. What is different this time around is we don’t exactly know what tomorrow is going to look like. To assume tomorrow is going to look like the last 15 months is a mistake, and to assume tomorrow is going to look exactly like yesterday is a mistake,” stated Niraj Dangoria, associate dean for office of facilities planning and management at Stanford School of Medicine.

    Dangoria expressed how important a role colleges play in a student’s transition into adulthood, and how vital a robust dialogue is as they continue to serve students. The most important function university leaders provide is helping students transition into other phases of life, and it is a priority to help them navigate whatever path that may be, he said.


  • 06/17/2021 9:51 AM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

    The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF), an organization that provides networking opportunities for those in the real estate community, hosted a panel discussion in May 2021 about how Los Angeles’ television and movie production spaces not only have survived but have rebounded over the past 12 months and what this means for the future of the entertainment industry in the city of Angels.

    Abbey Ehman, vice president at Lincoln Property Company, one of the largest and most diversified real estate firms in the United States, served as the moderator for panelists from RIOS, Hackman Capital Partners, JLL and VoyagerOne Studios/Virtual Production Occupier.  

    The Future of Soundstages Across Southern California

    Why did the studios all coincidentally migrate to this area? Within an hour's drive, you have pine tree-covered mountaintops, you have desert, you have beaches, you have every kind of set imaginable,” said Carl Muhlstein, international director at JLL.

    Southern California will continue to be a prime location for soundstages echoed Bob Hale, a partner at RIOS. He believes content creation will remain centered in Los Angeles.

    While the demand for soundstage space is at a peak, soundstage projects are a big commitment because it takes at least three to five years to get through the development process, said Hale. A California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review which is a law that requires California’s public agencies and local governments to measure the environmental impacts of development projects.

     Typically, a soundstage is not built as a standalone product. Stages are usually 18,000 square-feet and one story.

     The Transformation of Studio Space

    Studios have undergone a substantial transformation, said Zach Sokoloff, vice president of asset management at Hackman Capital Partners. Before the pandemic, industry workers were seeing about 2.5 square-feet of production office and support space to every 1.0 square-foot of stage space. The ratio has been flipped on its head. Now it is more than 2.0 square-feet of production office and support space for every 1.0 square-foot of stage space. The space and cost requirements of the stages are so huge that studios are building in places where land is a bit cheaper. 

    “As tempting as it is to look at a warehouse and say, ‘Gosh, that could be a stage,’ there's really a lot more that goes into building a stage than simply putting up a concrete space,” said Sokoloff.

    Virtual Production Is the Future

    The Disney+ series, The Mandalorian, is a good example of how epic television and feature films are going to be made using virtual production, said Matt Hanna, founder at VoyagerOne Studios and Virtual Production Occupier. The program looks like it was shot around the world but in reality, the entire series was shot on a giant soundstage in Manhattan Beach in front of a giant LED wall, that tracked the movements of the actors who performed in front of the screen. The actors were able to see the environment being projected behind them. 

    Hanna added that his group just closed its first round of financing to build out a pilot facility in Burbank. The group hopes to book and build it out quickly and expand to more facilities in Los Angeles and other viable production hubs, both domestically and internationally.

    “We plan to be in the virtual production services business and hope to find not only clients like Netflix and Disney, but also commercial production like music video production,” said Hanna. “We are going to be a content studio that is actively developing intellectual property utilizing the virtual production capabilities that we're building,” said Hanna. 

    His team is also planning to build an asset library, a digital catalog of the environments available to be put on the screen.

    Get Involved in The Industry

    Muhlstein suggested that professionals in the industry get involved in their local communities by writing a letter of support or perhaps helping the homeless. The Hollywood Chamber hosts a Homelessness Summit to have educated conversations on how to end the crisis of homelessness in Hollywood.

    “I don't care if you're a renter, owner, Democrat or Republican, I think the tide is turning that we really need to do something about California’s homelessness crisis,” stated Muhlstein.

    In summary, the entertainment industry will stay in Southern California and virtual production will be more common as the industry adjusts to coronavirus prevention practices.

  • 05/03/2021 3:12 PM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

    The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF), an organization that provides networking opportunities for those in the real estate community, hosted a panel discussion about what makes a successful dense district, how density affects unhoused residents, and the different strategies private developers and public agencies are looking towards such as the Density Bonus Ordinance.

    Greg Ames, managing director at Trammell Crow Company, one of the nation’s leading developers and investors in commercial real estate, served as moderator for panelists from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Los Angeles Chapter, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Agency, City of Long Beach Development Services Department and MacFarlane Partners. Ames began the conversation by introducing speaker Wells Lawson from LA Metro.

    Density in Transit-Oriented Communities

    Lawson, senior director of joint development for LA Metro, said density is about figuring out the best use of public land and going forward with joint development projects.

    “Part of our joint development project is actually branding the station areas around the metro stations to make them feel attractive and identifiable, and to create places that people can celebrate,” said Lawson.

    The project also calls for trying to effectively extract a variety of transportation benefits such as rebuilding portals and bike lanes. As density becomes the primary goal of transit-oriented communities, Lawson explained LA Metro’s vision for the program.

    “We see these sites as gateways. We want to demonstrate and push the envelope where we can show what could be developed near transit. We are right now taking a broader look at what we’re doing,” Lawson said.

    Density in Long Beach

    Christopher Ira Koontz, deputy director of the development services department of the City of Long Beach, spoke about density in Long Beach and how ongoing and future projects address affordable housing.

    “Density, that works, has a mix of unit sizes and a mix of affordability. In Long Beach, we are trying to add density in a lot of places, not just downtown, to address affordability and overcrowding,” said Koontz.

    Many affordable projects are underway such as one next to the Metro A line in Long Beach. Koontz said that this project can deliver density even though it is not a particularly tall building, with only three to five-story elements. This allows the project to avoid some costs that would have been associated with different building typologies.

    Ultra Density in Downtown LA

    Kevin M. Roberts, senior vice president of MacFarlane Partners, spoke about plans to add ultra density with high-rise housing and hospitality in a downtown setting.

    “The goal is to anchor what is already a growing and emerging walkable neighborhood, which many people might not think about right now. This includes the Grand Avenue cultural spine from Disney Hall to MOCA and offices on that spine, including our building, which will be a plaza leading into a wonderful Metro site connected to the rest of LA,” said Roberts.

    The addition of high-rise housing will cater to a niche of luxury- to ultra-luxury operators.

    Homelessness

    Wade Killefer, president of the American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles Chapter, said that the first step to approach the problem of housing and homelessness will be to stabilize those on the streets by bringing them into shelters.

    “There they can get clean, get fed, get properly diagnosed and get on the list for permanent supportive housing. We’ve been working on two shoulders for the county; West Athens adjacent to the 105 freeway at Normandy, and the other on a parking lot at the West LA Armory,” said Killefer.

    The West Athens location, called Safe Landing, will serve about 3,100 individuals per year. It is made up of five metal butler buildings, including a dining hall and admin, clinic and community buildings.

    The second shoulder shelter in the Armory will have the units but with less clinic space. According to Killefer, the north and east walls that are joined by the National Guard campus will be 12-inch thick concrete blast walls.

    In summary, proposed density in the West will benefit communities and create a better living environment for those in the area.

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