Financing, costs, infrastructure, mixed-use, green building, demographics-the guest CEOs at the 2007 Developer Conference covered it all.
Despite the downturn in the housing market, panelists Bill Donges, Kitty Green and Albert Praw agree that there are dozens of opportunities in the current market. "For us, the opportunities are the number of acquisitions that are potentials for us; all the talk about urban centers is probably true, but that's not the whole story," says Praw, CEO of Landstone Communities and a former executive at KB Home.
To survive will take creativity and innovation, added Green, CEO of Bonita Bay Group, a developer of master-planned communities in South Florida. "There's a lot of talk about how bad things are, but it's just talk. This will force all of us to go to the next level," she added.
Donges, CEO of multifamily powerhouse Lane Co., feels that are still financial partners out there willing to invest-especially in mixed-use projects like Atlantic Station, a 2,500-unit development (plus office space and retail) that the company recently completed in Atlanta. "They want the ability to feel like they're interacting and connected. It all starts with a sense of community," he said.
The panelists rounded out the discussion by discussing how sustainability and demographics will impact the future. "To me, sustainability is the umbrella concept," Green says. "If we say, 'Gee, I want to leave the earth a better place for our grandchildren,' then that has to be environmentally as well as socially and economically. Green building is just one part of that; it's about looking at the land first... and treating it with respect."
Additional reporting by Kate Herman.