The third annual LOCUS Leadership Summit: Closing the Next [Smart Growth] Deal achieved unprecedented success with over 140 real estate senior executives and local elected officials gathered at the historic Hotel Monaco in downtown Washington, DC last week. The summit was jam-packed with great presenters, insightful sessions, networking and deal-making.
This year’s summit kicked off its inaugural Real Estate Advocacy and Leadership (R.E.A.L.) Talks. The Talks brought together some of the country’s best minds in the public and private sectors to share their best ideas and approaches for smart growth real estate projects. The first R.E.A.L Talks session, Reimaging Communities and Community Revitalization, featured leaders like Georgia Institute of Technology Professor Ellen Dunham-Jones, former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and PointC Partners President David Grannis. Participants learned about increasing market demand among millennials for walkable communities and how southern California communities are increasing their residents’ mobility options through technology and innovative partnerships with major car companies like Mercedes-Benz.
Throughout the day, attendees participated in several “Off-the-Record” sessions intended to address some of the most polarizing smart growth development issues, including public-private partnerships, affordable housing, innovative financing techniques, and best practices for developing resilient communities. These “Off-the-Record” sessions were especially important, as the discussions and ideas will be included in a “best practices” toolkit and guide for developers and investors at the end of this year.
A major highlight of the summit was the release of Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros, a report that ranks the country’s top 30 metropolitan areas based on the amount of commercial development concentrated in Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs), written by the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at the George Washington University School of Business in conjunction with LOCUS. The cities highlighted in the report will be the home for future walkable developments where LOCUS developers would be wise to invest.
During the final [R.E.A.L] Talks session, participants gained insights and perspectives from LOCUS Steering Committee Members Richard Baron, President of McCormack Baron Salazar; Jair Lynch, President and CEO of JAIR LYNCH Development; and Calvin Gladney, Managing Partner of Mosaic Urban for Mission-Driven Development. Jair Lynch shared his experience with retrofitting a senior housing unit in the U Street Corridor of Washington, DC. He detailed the dramatic shift in local residents’ behavior during the process of cutting parking by one-third. Innovative projects like Lynch’s highlighted the increasing opportunities for developers and elected officials to directly impact people, the planet, and economic resilience through mission-driven development.
Throughout the summit, participants engaged in high-level networking and deal-making including an evening cocktail reception entitled “The Pitch,” an interactive session in which new development projects and services were workshopped for investment.
On the second and final day of the summit, LOCUS recognized Meea Kang, president and co-founder of Domus Development, LLC, as the 2014 LOCUS Leadership Award Recipient during the LOCUS Congressional Breakfast. In addition to honoring both real estate and congressional leaders who have shown exceptional leadership for walkable, sustainable development, the breakfast included the LOCUS Policy Roundtable: Turning Local Practice into Federal Policy. The roundtable was a discussion with Congressional staff, White House officials, Cabinet secretaries, and their staff, led by LOCUS Managing Director Christopher Coes, and Transportation for America Director James Corless, regarding smart growth opportunities and impediments in federal policy. Many of the attendees were able to visit Congressional offices to meet with members of Congress to discuss how federal programs and policies could better harness real estate development as an economic engine across America.
In addition, a small delegation of summit attendees met with staff from the White House Business Council, the office of the Vice President, and the Department of Transportation. The purpose of the meeting was to provide a forum for Steering Committee members to share their stories of, challenges in, and solutions for building walkable places with key administration officials. Steering Committee members left with the sense that they had spoken to the key players in creating federal smart growth policies.
Many participants gave the LOCUS Leadership Summit high marks for content and new business contacts. One participant said, “I would recommend [the summit] primarily for the professional diversity of the attendees. Great, unique perspectives!” Over the next two weeks, LOCUS will be providing additional resources from the summit including presentations, photos and testimonials. Visit our website for the latest updates and new resources.
Save the date: The Fall 2014 LOCUS Massachusetts Leadership Summit, a regional convening of the top real estate developers, investors and local elected officials in the smart growth real estate industry is set for this November 2014. Summit participants will learn innovative approaches and practices to smart growth financing and development, influence federal and state policy, and take part in exclusive deal making.