Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Development Titans Look to the Future

CREW hosted a sold out lunch where local legends in the real estate industry discussed the innovative trends they are seeing and made projections for the future. Over lunch at the Sofitel Hotel, attendees heard Eileen Nacev, Commercial Asset Manager and Director of  Sustainability for The JBG Companies lead a thought provoking discussion from esteemed panelists: Ray Ritchie, Executive Vice-President and Head of the Washington, DC Office for Boston Properties, Inc., Helen Haerle, Corporate Vice President for Quadrangle Development Corporation, Donna Shafer, Executive Vice President for Cityline Partners, and Todd Rich, Managing Director/Regional Director, Washington, DC Office for Tishman Speyer.

The panel focused on how real estate developers are able to “connect the dots” ahead of others to perceive change in technology, demographics, government regulations, sustainability, and other key external factors to spot new trends. Ray Ritchie pointed out that Washington, DC succeeds as a “knowledge economy” where employers recognize the value of location in terms of recruiting the best employees – with a plug for the book “The New Geography of Jobs” by Enrico Moretti. Developers in DC strive to differentiate their properties based on innovative technologies and sustainable features – noting that green roofs have turned into blue roofs and sometimes even produce roofs. Todd Rich gave examples of the innovative trends in technology, allowing architects, designers and construction teams to create 3-D images on their iPads in real time, even while standing in a 30 foot hole!

This insightful panel ended with projections for rent growth within the next two years, the benefits of raising the height limit of buildings within DC, the importance of transportation in the region, especially the planned Silver Line and the Red Line, and the continued demand for mixed-use developments. While the rain soaked everyone outside of the luncheon, attendees soaked in the projections of some of the top development titans in the Washington, DC area.