November 18, 2009
ULI conference: focus on planning during downturn
The Urban Land Institute recently held its fall meeting in San Fransisco. According to a summary from the California Planning & Development Report, the tenor of the meeting was that during tough economic times such as this, developers should invest in planning. From In Bad Times, ULI Talks Planning, not Development:
In particular, the topic seemed to be how developers can participate in the planning game – or, at the very least, work for the government during the downturn. For example, one panel of dealmaking experts focused exclusively on how to become a development advisor to local governments until the market turns again. "Developers understand the value of time and money," said Frank Baltz, of Maryland-based Edgemoor Real Estate Services. Governments don't understand the value of either, he added, but savvy government folks do understand that they can build necessary public projects at a low cost during an economic downturn.
I'm not entirely convinced that this description indicates any turn towards planning as opposed to a strategy for dealing with the slowdown. But at any rate the summary shows that many developers are quite sensitive to the public side of land use planning right now.
Meanwhile, ULI and PriceWaterhouseCoppers have released their Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2010 report, which looks like it has a lot of useful information and analysis. According to F. Kaid Benfield's analysis of the ULI report at the Huffington Post, the overall market may be bad, but it is much better for smart growth than it is for sprawl:
it is clear that the authors, who surveyed over 900 industry experts - investors, developers, property companies, lenders, brokers, and consultants - believe that the prospects for investment are much stronger for smart growth than they are for sprawl.
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