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VERY MERRY NAREE

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VERY MERRY NAREE
What do you get when you mix real estate writers and professionals at a conference in Texas? Some talk, BBQ, and more talk. NAREE's 44th annual Real Estate Journalism Conference is humming this week in Austin, live  music capital of the world. So we're here halfway across the country finding lots of Atlanta connections.
 
VERY MERRY NAREE
We found this coast-to-coast crew yesterday after their Commercial Realty Trends panel. Former Atlantan and Stoneforge Advisors co-founder David Steinwedell, left, says he doesn't expect a double-dip recession, but an uptick is still a coupla' years off. Steinwedell, now an Austonian, shared the stage with Mesa West Capital's  Jeff Friedman (LA), Pathfinder Partners' Mitch Siegler (San Diego) andNational Real Estate Investor's  Matt Valley (Atlanta). Matt moderated and says he's seeing reason for optimism, especially as bidders line up to acquire well-positioned properties.
 
VERY MERRY NAREE
We ate barbecue beef, pork, and chicken with Matt and The Corporate Storyteller's Cary Brazeman at Austin's Ironworks BBQ. An Atlanta native, Cary now lives in LA, and his firm represents RE companies including online marketplace LoopNet. Between bites, he urged us to check out LoopNet's iPhone app that uses GPS to help space searchers locate available office space. Much like we did with Matt's chicken when he wasn't looking, we tried it and liked it. As for Matt, he's still resisting technology despite co-workers' pleas that he "get into the 21st century."
 
VERY MERRY NAREE
Check out our view of the 360 Condominiums in downtown Austin just before wicked thunderstorms rolled into the capital city Wednesday evening. Atlanta's Novare Group developed the tower with Andrews Urban of Austin. At 563 feet, 360 ranked as the city's tallest tower for a year or so, that is, until it was eclipsed by the Austonian condo tower. Last month, Austin American-Statesman real estate writer and NAREE member Shonda Novak reported that Novare and International Bank of Commerce-Laredo are planning a 28-story tower called Ovation a couple blocks from 360.
 
VERY MERRY NAREE
We snapped The Austonian, which towers above the Austin skyline at 683 feet. The  850K SF condo tower developed by Austin's Momark Group and Benchmark, an affiliate of a Madrid company, officially opens  June 14. Momark gave NAREE attendees a firsthand look at the $250 million  development, where condos start at $586K and penthouses at $7.2 million. Nearly 40%  of the building's 178 condos have been sold.
 
VERY MERRY NAREE
We snapped Austonian architect (with bow tie, of course) Scott Ziegler of Houston with Momark's Terry Mitchell at the NAREE reception. Scott tells us the tower's green bona fides include housing hundreds of people on less than an acre. A similar development in the suburbs would devour 50-100 acres, 25-30 of which would be paved. Terry also points out that the high-rise is the tallest residential tower west of the Mississippi River.
 
VERY MERRY NAREE
With multifamily in mind, we snapped National Multi Housing Council's Michael Tucker and Writeous Words' Amy Lemen at a NAREE cocktail hour. Michael, who arrived in Austin from DC yesterday, says the mood among multifamily developers is upbeat. "At our board meeting in Chicago, the optimism was palpable," he tells us. "2011 is going to be a great year."