UM Hosts Real Estate Meeting of the Minds

One of the year’s most highly-anticipated real estate events, the University of Miami’s Real Estate Impact Conference took place this month at the Four Seasons Hotel on Brickell Avenue.

The program kicked-off with a conversation between Armando Codina, Executive Chairman of Codina Partners and Hamid Moghadam, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Prologis, which was followed by an all-star panel including executives from Google, Jamestown LLP, and the Vagabond Group.

Malcolm Gladwell, NY Times best-selling author and host of the podcast “Revisionist History”, closed out the conference with a thought-provoking speech about the power of ‘place.’

Topics discussed ranged from the evolution of Miami-Dade’s industrial market, placemaking and redefining the modern urban workplace-marketplace neighborhood, to the psychological and sociological implications of neighborhoods, buildings, and streets.

Our firm was out in front as an event sponsor, and here are some of this year’s key takeaways:

Customer service is becoming key for industrial market: Codina and Moghadam engaged in a good-humored discussion before touching on why the industrial market deserves as much recognition as Miami’s more visible sectors, such as residential and retail. Moghadam noted that the market is getting more interesting with the emergence of the last mile business.

The longtime friends also stressed the importance of building relationships, and how the future of industrial lies with customer service. Codina said, “There are no good deals with bad guys.”

Choosing the right building can make or break your company: Phillips explained the key to finding the right properties lies with macro and micro dynamics. Instinct also matters, saying that when it comes to identifying the best deals, “Mostly we stumble across them.”

Panelist Paul Darrah, Google’s Director of Real Estate in NYC, emphasized the value of transit-oriented developments (TODs). Darrah explained one of the top factors he looks at when choosing a location is access to mass transit, so employees can commute to and from work in a reasonable manner.

When asked by moderator Avra Jain about opportunity zones, Darrah and Phillips agreed that while these areas present favorable circumstances, both companies don’t actively seek properties in these regions, instead focusing on areas they are passionate about, with a strong community component.

The power of place: To close out the conference, author Malcolm Gladwell delivered a session entitled “The Golden Gate Bridge and Beyond: The Moral Implications of Place.” Gladwell focused on two main anecdotes: the correlation between crime and what we call “bad” neighborhoods (in most big cities, 50% of all crimes are committed on fewer than 5% of all streets), and the idea that fundamental human psychological actions are linked to the character of places we inhabit.

Gladwell ended his session by stressing the notion that developers and those in the world of real estate have a responsibility to address the idea that “We live in places, we respond to places, and we’re shaped by places.”