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You could say a lot's happened since Boston last hosted a ULI Summit in 2001. That just made it more fun to see major national CRE players pack the sessions. The meeting at the Hynes undertook a big task: define the economic landscape, identify trends, and trace capital flows.
Crowd at ULI Summit
We risked losing our seat just taking this pic of the standing room only crowd. But anything for you.
H.N. Gorin?s Roz Gorin at the Hynes
We snapped H.N. Gorin?s Roz Gorin, who co-chaired the event. She welcomed an SRO crowd by putting things in perspective. Since that ?01 meeting, the city completed the nation's largest infrastructure project, has seen substantial redevelopment in the Back Bay, and opened the South Boston Seaport District by completing the $800M convention center as an anchor.
Ernst & Young?s Howard Roth
Ernst & Young?s Howard Roth brought everyone back to Earth. Reviewing an E&Y global infrastructure study, he reports that the US and Russia are light years behind China in modernizing roads, bridges, levees, and water systems. Indeed, 20% of our water treatment facilities are subpar. To catch up, the US needs to invest $2.2T a year over five years. What's it mean for ULI? Without modern infrastructure, it's hard for real estate investments to succeed.
Equity Groups? Sam Zell
Ever colorful, Equity Groups? Sam Zell keynoted with Wharton School?s Peter Linneman. Sam said, unlike prior recessions, he doesn?t see ?any great real estate opportunities? in the US, where he's now buying debt. In emerging markets, it's a matter of trading growth for rule of law. To succeed, it's critical to find a good local partner. So, he's active in Brazil but isn't in India where ?we can't find a partner we think is honest.? In China, he's done a few deals, ?but we would have done better if our partner had a better hearing aid.? He's spurning Europe, ?that's trading no growth for no rule of law.? As for Washington?s leadership, it's ?frightening.? For the first time as an investor, ?the new risk is political.?
Mayor Menino at ULI Summit
We snapped Mayor Menino as he entered the ballroom to welcome the crowd, an encouragment to invest in Boston. Mark Zandi
Since Mark Zandi bowed out to testify before Senator Dodd?s committee, colleague Guy Faucher gave the economic outlook. Where others waffle, he was clear: The worst recession since the Great Depression ended last August. Unemployment will peak later this year at 10.2%. Still, corporate balance sheets are strong and economic growth that started in the middle of the country—from Texas to the Dakotas—is spreading to the Southeast, parts of the industrial Midwest, and Massachusetts. Aiding the rebound has been DC?s stabilization of the banks and stimulus policies. Job growth will start in a few months led by healthcare and education (the bedrock during the downturn) and soon professional/business services. Housing, well, foreclosures, will rise and prices fall again to drag down consumer spending.
Blackstone's Frank Cohen (left), a panelist for the "Sources of Capital in the New World Order" session offered news that for the first time in a couple years his team is making new equity investments in real estate. After a recession break, since mid '09 Blackstone had been mostly in the debt space. Fidelity's Steve Buller says REITs are now "at the forefront" because as a stock, r.e. fundamentals aren't paramount. ING's Stephen Furnary says he's still retooling. Prologis' Walter Rakowich expects development opportunities this year in China and Europe, where they need a new generation of industrial product. Goldman Sachs' Michael Graziano moderated