This was a blast! After months of lockdown and working remotely, some of our members and a few guests got together for an in-person event, following all health and safety protocols, of course. In order to facilitate responsible social distancing, this outdoor event was limited to 15 attendees. We gathered for a few hours at PGP Motorsport Park in Kent, WA to race go-karts and discuss the current state of the real estate market, ending the event with a box lunch. Given the propensity for most people in the commercial real estate industry to be adrenaline junkies, this was the perfect activity to blow off some stream. Although the morning started out a little foggy, we were enjoying sunny skies before the final race. It was a great way to end the summer, catching up with old friends and making new business connections. We’re especially grateful to Lisa Poole and her newly launched company, LinkMe, for sponsoring the event.
Like other industry organizations, we’ve pivoted to virtual events for most of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, we aimed for the stars and reached them. Chungha Cha in Korea, Nikki Greenberg in the USA, and Antony Slumbers in England are world-renowned subject matter experts on proptech. Each of their names appears consistently in “top 10” lists of industry influencers at the global level. They very graciously agreed to participate in our webinar, even though the time zone differences made things a little challenging. It was a very engaging discussing on how PropTech is making advances around the world, nothing short of the future of real estate. For those of you who weren’t able to join the webinar during its live broadcast, or those of you who would just like to watch it again, it’s now available for on-demand viewing on our YouTube channel.
Over 250 real estate professionals from 42 countries attended FIABCI's 38th annual Global Business Summit, which was held this time in Ghent, Belgium from 12/4/19 to 12/7/19. The theme of the 4-day event was “Green Buildings and Innovative Urban Planning” and programing included panel discussions, forums, workshops, and start-up pitches on these timely and important topics. Over 30 subject matter experts spoke at the event, imparting practical and actionable knowledge on green and sustainable practices in real estate to the attendees. The implicit challenges and opportunities for real estate development and operations were analyzed from a global perspective, noting differences across regions and professional disciplines. One of the primary reasons why Ghent was selected to host the Summit was that it has been a finalist in the European Green Capital Award for the past two years running.
As is customary, attendees had ample opportunities to network and unlock new business opportunities during the Global Business Summit. An array of social events were organized by FIABCI, including a cocktail reception at the De Krook Library, property tours of two recently completed commercial redevelopment projects, a boat ride on Ghent’s canals, a climb to the top of the Ghent Belfry (tower), dinner at Brasserie De Foyer, and a farewell dinner and charity art auction at Castle Coninxdonck. All proceeds from the art auction went to the FIABCI Scholarship Foundation. Among the attendees of the Global Business Summit were three members of the Seattle Pacific Northwest Council, G. Evan Bennett, who is the current Council President, Polina Zaika, and Dr. Olga Cherney. Please be sure to ask them about the experience when you see them at the next FIABCI event in Seattle.
The winners of FIABCI-USA’s Grand Prix of Real Estate were announced at the semi-annual USA Chapter Meeting on 11/10/19 in San Francisco. The Grand Prix of Real Estate commemorates the most influential and impactful development projects throughout the USA, covering a variety of categories in both the commercial and residential real estate sectors, from planning and construction to sales and marketing, as well as sustainability and community improvements. This year, Seattle had a winner! A recently completed development project known as The Mark, submitted by Daniels Real Estate, was recognized with an award.
The Mark includes the F5 Tower, a 48-story, 750,000 SF mixed-use building (office and hotel), and the adjacent building, The Sanctuary, the nation’s oldest Byzantine-style church, now transformed into one of Seattle’s premier event venues. ZGF Architects, the firm that designed The Mark, utilized a compact footprint for the F5 Tower as it was the first project in Seattle where a new tower was developed within a quarter block site in order to preserve the surrounding historic buildings. They maximized development potential by designing a tower that flare out over the historic structures before subtly tapering back through a sequence of building planes.
The Affordable Housing Summit on 11/14/19 was by far our most ambitious event to date, at least in terms of importance and scale. Held at Alder Auditorium on the University of Washington campus, programing included speeches by FIABCI World President, Walid Moussa, and Community for Affordable Housing, Troy Thiel, and two panel discussions that included public figures and subject matter experts on multi-family, ADU/DADU, prefab/modular construction, condo conversion, land use, and fintech. The feedback we received from the audience was fantastic. There is clearly support out there for making housing more affordable for all members of our community. Also, it’s clear that numerous groups have already found viable solutions to this important issue. What we need to do now is come together and put these solutions into practice. We’ll be looking for other opportunities to partner with Troy and Sara Monzo (Co-chair) of Community for Affordable Housing.
FIABCI World President, Walid Moussa, and USA Chapter President, Kellee Buhler, honored us with a visit to Seattle. This was the first time a World President has ever visited our Seattle Council and it came about in no small part because of all the favorable reports he had received on our activities. Although Walid had planned to stay in Seattle for only two days, he was so impressed with our city that he extended his stay for an additional two days. On the evening of 11/13/19, we celebrated their visit with a members only dinner at Palisade, a restaurant located in Magnolia with sweeping views of Elliott Bay. Also in attendance were a number of Canadian members of FIABCI, all of whom had either flown or driven down from British Columbia.
In order to acquaint Walid with the commercial real estate market in Seattle, we toured a number of properties, including 2+U, a 38-story, 700,000 SF mixed-use building (office and retail) that was nearing completion of development by Skanska; Sitka, a 384-unit, mid-rise apartment community developed by Vulcan that was recently awarded a Night of the Stars award by NAIOP; and the aforementioned winner of the Grand Prix, The Mark. Walid presented Kevin Daniels with the Grand Prix award during our tour. When Walid decided to extend his stay, we improvised additional tours, including some Eastside properties.
Our “Amenities Gone Wild?” panel discussion and networking reception at the Amazon Spheres on 10/30/19 was a huge success. It was standing room only! The topic was the importance of amenities in commercial real estate design and whether or not things have gotten out of control, which is what ULI suggested in their 2019 edition of Emerging Trends in Real Estate. The quality of the discussion by the panel was top-notch, the vibe coming from the attendees was very positive, and the venue was truly magical, especially because the event was held at night. It really was a fantastic event! We’re very much indebted to Bonnie Toland and her colleagues as NBBJ for doing most of the heavy lifting in organizing the panel of subject matter experts. We’ll be looking for other opportunities to partner with them going forward.
Thank you to everyone who attended our September 2019 market tour in Maple Valley. The weather was fantastic, and we enjoyed a beautiful view of Mount Rainier from Lake Wilderness Lodge, the venue for our luncheon. Mayor Sean Kelly began the program with an enthusiastic overview of Maple Valley. Representatives of the City's Economic Development, Community Development, and Public Works departments gave presentations on recent development activity and ongoing opportunities. This was followed by a panel of local market participants who discussed their experiences in Maple Valley developing projects or working with developers and investors. All the presenters and panelists were extremely informative and engaging. After lunch, we boarded two buses for a guided tour of development projects and sites throughout Maple Valley.
The development and investment opportunities in Maple Valley are impressive and we were honored to help promote these opportunities both locally and globally to our FIABCI members. We’re very grateful to the City of Maple Valley for their partnership in organizing this event. In particular, Tim Morgan, its Economic Development Manager, was instrumental in bringing everything together. The event really was a huge success!
Are you interested in being a speaker or panelist at one of our events? Let us know!