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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  • 11/15/2022 11:08 AM | 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 and projects, while also providing networking opportunities. The organization hosted a panel discussion on Nov. 7, 2022, to discuss the impact that current and forecasted economic fundamentals are having on real estate development. 

    Patrick Rhodes, Vice President of Development at Brookfield Properties, served as the moderator for panelists Alex Valente, Senior Vice President of Trammell Crow Company; Matt Howell, Senior Vice President of Lincoln Property Company; and Jim Andersen, Chief Development Officer of Chelsea Investment Corporation.

    Underwriting and New Development Opportunities

    The moderator opened the discussion by acknowledging the very real effects of COVID on capital market conditions. “There are plenty of things to be concerned about, but real estate developers remain highly optimistic,” said Rhodes.

    In Los Angeles specifically, Alex Valente is confident in the market’s recovery. “We feel confident with the great sites, great market, great demographics and dynamics. Hopefully, we can overcome the challenges we’re facing now in terms of how we underwrite deals for new development,” he said.

    Valente also spoke to the power of rent growth in the market during turbulent times. “There will still be rent growth, perhaps not as much as there has been year over year. As a result, everyone’s working to underwrite great growth to help companies, as well as make the deals make sense for us financially.”

    The Future of Office

    Howell spoke about the existing use and future development opportunities in the office market.

    “We expected many tenants to slow down their operations, but many of them have reconfigured their businesses and how they will use their office space,” he said. Howell also explained that many companies are also focused on reducing their carbon footprint and subsequently, their square-footage while not terminating their leases outright.

    “In terms of future builds, we’re looking at builds that accommodate online sciences, other R&D-type stations and content creation,” he said. “We’re witnessing the evolution of what the office is going to look like and how we will use it moving forward. I think there’s going to be a tremendous demand for this tenant group.”

    Affordable Housing

    Jim Andersen spoke to how the business surrounding affordable housing is changing given the current economic climate.

    “Probably 60 to 70% of renters in Los Angeles County that are on the edge of not being able to afford the place we live. These are people we see every day in our offices and our daily lives,” Andersen said. He went on to explain that most California cities had an adequate supply of housing, the longtime pressure of high rents has allowed only the “highest possible cohort” to occupy this housing while excluding a significant number of people from access to safe and affordable housing. “Presently, the crisis is such that it was declared an emergency in Sacramento,” he said.

    “Money is currently being steered towards the goal of alleviating homelessness. [Chelsea Investment Corporation] is currently building a project in Skid Row that will be 286 units. It’s taken seven years to get off the ground and we’re a year and a half into the project.”

    In conclusion, though there has been some uncertainty in real estate development due to ongoing economic and structural changes, leaders believe that with strategy and resiliency, the market will rebound.

  • 10/21/2022 4:19 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 and projects, while also providing networking opportunities. The organization hosted a panel discussion on Oct. 18, 2022, to discuss the driving tenant lease demand for studio and entertainment real estate in Los Angeles in a post-pandemic world.   

    Trevor Shulters, a regional director for cost management with the Cumming Group, served as the moderator for panelists John Wiedner, principal of Gensler; David Malmuth, president of David Malmuth, LLC; Amy Pokawatana, vice president of development design for Hudson Pacific Properties, and Brooke Edwards, a director with Cushman & Wakefield.  

    Amenities for New or Renovated Movie and Television Studios

    Amenities are crucial for effective studio spaces says Pokawatana at Hudson Pacific Properties. Her latest project in the U.K. includes a fitness center and a nursery which makes it easier for those who work at the studio lot that operates 24 hours a day.

    “Being able to provide them with a place to eat, daycare services and other options is something that we are thinking long and hard about,” explains Pokawatana. “Our thought process is how to do as much as we can so that it is beneficial for all types of tenants.”

    Wiedner with Gensler says developers and studio professionals are also looking outside the walls of the studios and focusing on the local neighborhood and what kind of projects can be supported.

    Types of Studio Tenants

    Edwards of Cushman & Wakefield is seeing an influx into the studio market because of streaming services. Tenants now range from Warner Bros., which has been in the industry for years, to Amazon Studios and Netflix which are trying to make their mark and pick up big pieces of space, she says.

    Evolving Technology In Studio Spaces

    Technology itself has changed dramatically in the last three years, which in turn impacts development, adds Wiedner. Evolutions to the studio business in film and TV production include LED walls, and there is also a big push to provide an infrastructure that is flexible and sustainable.

    “We are looking at sustainability as a big asset,” says Wiedner. “Recycling programs and electrification systems are all really important aspects.”

    Traditional Soundstages

    Pokawatana says lighting and acoustics are traditional assets of a soundstage while elevators, a secondary structural system or electrical needs for virtual uses are additional assets.

    Malmuth of David Malmuth works on traditional soundstages that have been adapted to a new environment. For instance, he has adapted the Paramount soundstage by compressing the large space, which has been in use for over 100 years, into a much smaller space.

    Advice for Industry Professionals

    Malmuth says you have to create something in the market that delivers a superior user experience at a price that makes sense. “We are trying to match all of those capabilities together into something that is really extraordinary because that is how you will be successful."

    In conclusion, studio and entertainment real estate need as many amenities as possible to serve a variety of clients. Technology and sustainability are also key to the evolution of the studio business.

  • 09/27/2022 5:08 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, September 13, 2022, discussing how the increase in institutional, private, and commercial research has driven a highly competitive landscape that attracts the best talent, and how organizations are evaluating space and facilities, funding sources, and interdisciplinary opportunities to entice researchers that will drive innovation within the markets.

    Shaun Stiles, Executive Director of Cushman & Wakefield, served as the moderator for panelists Coomy Kadribegovic, Senior Manager of Caltech; Talena Williamson, Project Controls Senior Manager of Amgen; and Brian Cooper, Director of Manufacturing, Tech Transfer of Takeda.

    Attracting and Retaining Talent in the Current Economy

    “We hire the best of the best and give them labs, spaces, and the tools they want and need to do what they do best,” said Coomy Kadribegovic, Senior Manager at Caltech. “We are learning that these researchers are very community-oriented and want to know how their spaces function in terms of their students, who they interact with, and they also want to be surrounded by other distinguished scientists.”

    The California Institute of Technology, Caltech, is a private research university in Pasadena that attracts world-renowned talent from all over the world.

    Talena Williamson, Senior Manager at Amgen, says in terms of retaining talent, it’s important for companies to realize it’s not always about the job, but the career.

    “It’s all about the culture and what makes you want to come to work every day,” says Williamson. “At Amgen, they really offer a sense of community and purpose of doing something better for the world.”

    The Shifting Economy and Challenges it Brings

    A common question asked among industry experts amidst the pandemic is how do we efficiently optimize the spaces we operate in.

    “It’s not about revamping lab spaces anymore, but transforming older spaces to fit the needs of the future,” explains Williamson.

    Brian Cooper, Director of Manufacturing at Takeda, says a huge change he has noticed since the pandemic is the process of building capital projects and corporate managers are more open to carrying costs.

    “When they fund a capital project, they basically expect us to issue POs for the entire project as soon as we get funding,” explained Cooper. “We’d much rather have the materials sitting on the dock ready to go, rather than holding up a project because we are waiting for a shipment to come in.”

    Due to the state of today’s supply chain, companies are strategically planning much further in advance to ensure materials are arriving ahead of time to make sure capital projects stay on their designated timeline.

    Sustainability Efforts

    Kadribegovic says Caltech has started a sustainability program where the sustainability manager hands out plaques to professors they work with during the design process. It is a small effort to get the occupants excited about sustainability in operations.

    “It’s real basic stuff like turning off the lights, unplugging equipment when not in use, etc.” explains Kadribegovic. “But I think it will go a long way in starting conversations about sustainability and what that looks like.”

    Digital and Automation Demand

    The shift to remote work awoke a technological demand among consumers. Wi-Fi and laptops are now critical for the workforce.

    “There is definitely a stronger appetite for more digital and remote work,” says Williamson. “It is more enticing to new talent when you have top-level technology and equipment that can push your company to the forefront.”

    Correspondingly, Cooper says he’s noticed there is a much higher expectation among design engineers than it was just two years ago.

    As the world, the economy, and the industries we work in constantly shift to adapt to the current trends, it is no secret that digital and flexible work will persist. Luckily, in terms of hiring and retaining talent, offering flexible, remote and digital work will continue to prove to be a huge advantage in attracting the best talent and expanding the talent pool which we all pull from.

  • 08/16/2022 3:06 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, August 16, 2022, discussing what the metaverse means to the architecture, design, engineering, and construction industries; how it influences the built environment; and how these industries are implementing the virtual world.   

    Matt Stern, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Mira, served as the moderator for panelists Marcela Oliva, Architecture and Environmental Design Professor at LA Trade Tech; Jake Black, Co-Founder of Glossi; GuvencOzel, Founder of Ozel Office; and Kathleen Cohen, XR Immersive Strategist at The Collaboratorium.   

    Understanding the Metaverse  

    According to WIRED Magazine, the term metaverse doesn't really refer to any one specific type of technology, but rather a broad, and often speculative, shift in how we interact with technology.   

    “The metaverse can include virtual reality characterized by persistent virtual worlds that continue to exist even when you're not playing—as well as augmented reality that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds. However, it doesn't require that those spaces be exclusively accessed via virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR).”  

    Kathleen Cohen, an XR Immersive Strategist at The Collaboratorium, explains the metaverse in three categories: worlds and environments, people and avatars, and the economy and markets we all play in.   

    “It is not a single company creating the metaverse or a single device, but rather a large collaboration and convergence of several technologies,” explains Matt Stern, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Mira. “Together, these technologies create an immersive, 3-dimensional environment where users can interact with their surroundings as if they were in a shared space.”  

    The Extended Reality Space Explained 

    Augmented reality (AR) is the integration of digital information with the user's environment in real-time. Unlike virtual reality (VR), which creates a totally artificial environment, AR users experience a real-world environment with generated perceptual information overlaid on top of it.  

    “It’s all about synchronizing information between the physical world and the virtual world,” says Guvenc Ozel, Founder of Ozel Office. “Previously branded as ‘cyberspace’, we all know this as a space where we all interact with each other through information technologies or some kind of technological interface.”   

    Ozel believes a lot of these interfaces are very primitive and suggests a reason many people struggle with anxiety after spending too much time on their phone or staring at a screen for too long is because those environments are not very suitable for natural human communication.   

    “When these environments become more spatial, they will be more occupiable by humans,” says Ozel.   

    Seamlessly Blending Worlds: Digital Twinning Explained 

    A digital twin is a real-time virtual representation of a real-world physical system or process that serves as the indistinguishable digital counterpart of it for practical purposes, such as system simulation, integration, testing, monitoring, and maintenance. 

    “I think one of the long-term goals is to seamlessly dip in and out of a virtual space to real space,” says Jake Black, Co-Founder of Glossi. “By constructing digital twins of our environments and the places and buildings within them, we can do that.”  

    Black suggests there are two ways to look at digital twinning: one is in a professional context of how it can improve our lives from the standpoint of engineers, architects, developers, construction workers, etc., but two, how we can enhance the lives of consumers in the long-term.  

    Implementing the Virtual World into the AEC Industry 

    There is a very simple definition for the metaverse used by architects, engineers, developers, and construction workers – the devolution of space. Worldbuilding in the metaverse is synonymous with the built environment as explained by industry experts.   

    “There are about 450 technologies that are going to make this ecosystem,” says Marcela Oliva, Architecture and Environmental Design Professor at LA Trade Tech. “Interoperability is the biggest breakthrough right now. We are beginning to talk to each other for the very first time in architectural engineering about moving into the gaming engine and seamlessly blending all of these worlds together.”  

    Oliva believes the innovation of these technologies introduces a unique opportunity to achieve social equity and is excited to see the industry blossom into something that can be used for the good of all people.    

    In conclusion, as virtual worlds and immersive online spaces continue to develop, we are enlightened with the ever-growing opportunity to enhance and share our lives, work, leisure activities, travel, and wealth in ways never before experienced. Buckle up, the ride only gets more advanced as time goes on.   

  • 07/05/2022 8:39 AM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

    The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) hosted a panel discussion on healthcare strategies and shifts in capital priorities on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. Moderated by Sean Collins, Executive Director of Facilities, Planning, Design, and Construction (FPD&C) at Cedars Sinai, the discussion panelists included Eric Brown, Director of Construction for Sharp HealthCare; Sophia Lee, Associate Administrator for Keck Medicine of USC; Randy Leopold, Sr. Director of Healthcare Architecture for UC San Diego; Alicia Ramos, Senior Project Manager for Los Angeles County Public Works; and Stephen Scott, Director of Capital Projects and Facility Operations for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS). 

    SCDF is an association of professionals in the real estate industry, founded to provide professionals with a venue to network with other colleagues across the Southern California region. 

    Pressing Issues in Healthcare Development  

    As healthcare leaders navigate an ever-changing economy, growing population and shifting healthcare needs, the healthcare delivery systems are also constantly evolving, which directly affects the way healthcare facilities are developed. With the upcoming seismic deadline and increasing demands in care in the communities, top healthcare institutions are not showing any signs of deceleration in their capital projects. 

    “The demand for appropriate bed space is a critical issue we are facing right now,” said Alicia Ramos. “We’re navigating how to address these conditions, but also maintain cost-effective strategies.” 

    Panelists also cited factors such as rising construction costs as an obstacle in developing adequate healthcare centers that address current needs while also accounting for futureproofing. “We have to be strategic in our future planning,” said Leopold. “Will this facility be in line with the needs of healthcare in ten years?” 

    When it comes to forecasting and managing projects, “We are adding contingency into our schedules to account for labor, materials, and plan check delays,” said Stephen Scott.  

    Environmental Impacts and Sustainability Efforts in Healthcare 

    Health outcomes and the environment are inextricably linked. Environmental factors such as wildfires, smog and smoke –all of which are common occurrences in California--dramatically contribute to negative health outcomes, such as heat-related deaths and respiratory complications. 

    “There are three big things that I think are relative to construction and essential to healthcare construction,” said Ramos. “First, we must quantify spending when it comes to sustainability and environmental responses. Secondly, we must prioritize the need for a larger energy supply for central plants because energy sources are a huge component in development and an essential part of how we’re planning facilities and our approach to healthcare. Lastly, we must plan for the long-term and holistically: we have to assess needs not only from a patient standpoint but from a workforce standpoint as well. How do we take care of our own workforce and continue attracting the future workforce while maintaining a healthy environment?” Sustainability is top of mind for Keck Medicine of USC. “We will soon require all ground up construction to be LEED Platinum,” said Sophia Lee.  

    The Labor Market and Workplace Strategies 

    Labor shortages are forcing healthcare institutions to prioritize staff retention and staffing models. Meanwhile, unprecedented growth and faculty recruits are pushing healthcare institutions to be creative with space and maximize existing assets.  

    Additionally, healthcare workers endure significantly more stress than they did five years ago, creating additional challenges for healthcare companies to retain a full workforce in a post-COVID world. “It’s a challenge a lot of people just aren’t willing to endure,” Brown said, also citing the shift to remote work as a challenge in maintaining a fully-staffed workforce. Sophia Lee, on the other hand, noted that the shift towards hybrid work and the hoteling model has benefitted her organization by freeing up onsite space for other critical functions. 

    In summary, it is a very difficult climate to navigate, but healthcare leaders are working tirelessly to deliver care in a cost-effective way while meeting the needs of today and tomorrow’s society. Whether or not this current “crazy” becomes the new norm, we all need to remain nimble and smart about the way we operate our facilities, now more than ever.  

  • 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.”


    “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.”


    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.


    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.

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