Highlighted by a presentation from Marc D. Weller of Sagamore Development Co. and Demian Costa of Sagamore Industries, LLC, who provided an update on the development activities occurring at Port Covington in South Baltimore, nearly 300 professionals from around the country attended the 8th annual Saul Ewing Real Estate Conference at the Baltimore Convention Center. The half-day seminar also featured educational sessions focusing on placemaking principles being utilized in current real estate projects; technology tools that are employed to improve marketing and communication; and a discussion of the equity and debt marketplace, especially as affected by the recent Presidential election.
“Based on feedback from the attendees, we achieved each of our goals at this year’s event, including the presentation of an educational forum that stimulated insightful comments and thoughts about the current real estate environment,” stated Howard R. Majev, a partner in the real estate practice with Saul Ewing and the lead organizer of the annual conference. “Our clients and partners invest time at this conference each year because they value the outstanding networking opportunities, the exchange of ideas and the information benefits they receive from interacting with their peers and thought leaders of our industry.”
Presenters on the placemaking panel discussed the importance of developing projects near transit centers, to address the desire for compact, walkable mixed-used communities among consumers. With the decline in automobile ownership, especially among millennials in urban areas, this trend is becoming more pronounced. The utilization of placemaking tools in public areas, entertainment venues and for other types of real estate projects has spurred the creation and completion of transformative projects throughout the United States.
Panelists included Peter Holsten and Jackie Taylor Holsten of Holsten Management Corporation, which has completed a residential development on the former Cabrini-Green site in Chicago; Doug Manix of KIRCOMANIX, which completed construction of a large distribution center for Cardinal Health in Detroit; Ramsey Meiser of Federal Realty Investment Trust, who addressed placemaking initiatives at the Pike & Rose project in Bethesda, Maryland; and Paul Shank, Chief Engineer of the Maryland Aviation Administration, who shared insights regarding the future development of BWI Airport.
"I personally believe in a future where all people are able to thrive in their chosen community and responsible developers have to create a platform that challenges development that values profit over people," explained Ernst Valery, Founder, www.get-REDI.com and the moderator of the panel on placemaking. “Placemaking is the wave of the future. It is not enough to develop projects that are driven by individual thoughts or dreams. It is vital to engage all the collective stakeholders in the community to arrive at solutions that represent the best interests of many.”
Ernst Valery moderated the placemaking panel
Julie Whalen from CBRE, Inc., said the most exciting and innovative use of technology in real estate is location analytics software, which uses interactive maps to help with site selection. Social media was also discussed as a key tool for the industry. “The way real estate and affiliated companies communicate is changing and it is critical to integrate an active social media program into every marketing program,” stated Yudi Fernandez, Vice President of Schwartz Media Strategies. “Effective strategies include the active use of Twitter and LinkedIn to create content and push it out on a regular basis to keep projects, people and ideas top-of-mind among your target audiences. Mid-morning and early afternoon are the optimal times to disseminate content, and don’t forget weekends, because people remain connected seven days a week.”
Jonathan Schultz, Managing Principal of Onyx Equities, agreed and said, “Social media is missing in real estate and could be the biggest partner you have” in building a brand.
Tools and Technology panelists
Joe Foss of SC&H Capital moderated the Equity and Debt panel
“With a real estate developer about to assume the presidency, everyone is waiting to see how the results of the election will impact our industry,” said Stephen D. Evans, Senior Vice President, Rubenstein Partners. “But, don’t expect anything to happen quickly. It will take at least twelve months before we can gauge any changes. At the very least, we will experience an increase in private sector spending.”
Howard R. Majev, Saul Ewing LLP (right) with Marc D. Weller of Sagamore Development and Demian Costa of Sagamore Industries
“We fully expect that Port Covington will change the narrative of Baltimore in a positive manner,” explained Marc D. Weller, President of Sagamore Development. “For companies looking to relocate to an emerging region, Port Covington will be among the top five sites appearing on every real estate list. There will be 52 weekends of special events activation and 20 lifestyle events. The site is large enough to accommodate each of our development and marketing objectives.” Weller added, “It’s not just about collecting rent – it’s about ensuring the success of the community.”
University of Baltimore Real Estate students attending the conference included Keri Hickey, Christopher Rizakos, Jakob Metz, Timothy Donovan and Zachary Hansen
Barry F. Levin, Managing Partner, Saul Ewing LLP