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To use an owner rep or not use an owner rep? (You didn't know Hamlet was a developer?) That was the question leading Real Estate Networking & Transactions' lively panel at the Union League Club on Tuesday, where industry experts debated the merits of owner rep/project management firms.
LVM Group's David Grant, Ochs & Goldberg's Mitchell Goldberg, and Levien & Co.'s Kenneth Levien
We applaud Levien & Co.'s Kenneth Levien for being a good sport as the panel's requisite owner rep. (He's at right, with LVM Group's David Grant and Ochs & Goldberg's Mitchell Goldberg.) What does his position entail? Serving as project manager and advisor to the owner, overseeing all the moving parts, from the architect and general contractor, to engineers and furniture vendor. They're especially helpful for owners who aren't used to these projects, such as institutions, Kenneth says. But tensions occur when the general contractor and architect lose the owner's ear, attorney Mitchell says, which is critical to a project's success.
Gertler & Wente's Jeff Gertler, Lehr Consultants International's Steve Winter, and CNY Builders' Ken Colao
Owner reps keep you on time by hiring and vetting, says Gertler & Wente's Jeff Gertler (with Lehr Consultants International's Steve Winter and CNY Builders' Ken Colao). In contrast, the architect laments the additional layer to the owner, as more people involved break the intimate relationship. But many owners are ruled by committee, Steve argues—one non-profit mentioned had 14—and having an owner rep can also cut layers. Kenneth points out that many projects he joins are already in trouble, with millions wasted and causing stress for everyone.