The best show in Las Vegas this week was the 2008 Multifamily Executive Conference, co-located this year with the 2008 Developer Conference. Together, the joint events offer cutting-edge coverage of the most pressing issues facing multifamily and development professionals today.

Nearly 800 people attended the three-day event, which was held at the luxurious Bellagio Hotel.

Republican pundit and MSNBC senior campaign correspondent Tucker Carlson kicked off the event with a riveting, witty, unapologetic keynote address about the political landscape leading up to the 2008 presidential election.

Steve Falcone (seated, far left), executive vice president of Senior Village Management, leads a breakfast roundtable discussion on the challenges of serving senior residents. Additional roundtables that morning focused on other demographic groups, including immigrants and Gen Y.

Nearly 500 people came to hear the view from the top from three of the industry's leading CEOs.

Attendees listened as the panelists discussed their strategies to get through the next few months of tight credit, growing job losses, and general anxiety in the marketplace.

(L-R) In high spirits, Tom Bozzuto, CEO of The Bozzuto Group; Ric Campo, CEO of Camden Property Trust; and Tom Toomey, CEO of UDR said that despite slowing development pipelines, the outlook for multifamily in 2010 and beyond is positive. In the meantime, 2009 would be a tough, complicated, period of transition, they said.

Networking opportunities between attendees, their colleagues, and exhibitors abound at the now co-located events.

Attendees can discover new products and services on the exhibit floor and have all of their questions expertly answered in no time.

Doug Bibby, president of the National Multi Housing Council, moderates a breakout session for the Multifamily Executive Conference on debt financing and how to navigate the nonexistence of credit in today's marketplace.

Charles Krawitz, managing director of KeyBank Real Estate Capital, told attendees that although CMBS lending and smaller banks have all but dried up, it is still possible to close deals in major metros, so long as they are valued under $50 million.

With the co-located events, attendees had a wider variety of sessions and educational tracks from which to choose.

Neville Rhone, senior director of acquisitions for Canyon Capital Realty Advisors, talked about his firm's large public/private venture in Austin, Texas, during the breakout sessions for the Developer Conference. He said such projects don-t necessarily have to be capital-driven but do need local political support.

Carol Galante, president and CEO of BRIDGE Housing Corp., an affordable housing developer based in San Francisco, accepts her award as the 2008 Executive of the Year. She issued a call to action to the industry to continue to deliver more affordable, sustainable housing in communities around the country.

Best-selling author Dr. Richard Florida, who delivered his keynote address on the last day of the conference, spent some time describing the community of the future. He said the emerging creative class will define these 'mega-regions' and demand a greater sense of place from the areas in which they choose to live. He stayed after the keynote to sign copies of his recent book, Who's Your City?

Save the Date! 2009 Multifamily Executive Conference 2009 Developer Conference Oct. 12-14, 2009 Bellagio, Las Vegas

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