From Farmer to Leader
Before Jeff DuFresne was rounding up developers, he was rounding up livestock in New England (here with his soon-to-be wife Jodi in 1982). We chatted with ULI Atlanta's head last week to get a sense of what a day-in-the-life is like running one of the world's largest ULI chapters.
Jeff has climbed through the brambles of commercial real estate—starting in 1985 in asset management with PRU (where Peachtree Center was in his portfolio) on to NYLife and the late DIHC, which was the money behind the iconic 191 Tower. Through acquisitions and mergers, Jeff found himself a “last man standing” and instead took the post as ULI's executive director in 2005. “Because a lot of my projects were Intown, I got real interested into what ULI was doing for land use,” he says.
Jeff, a self-confessed travel junkie, is seen here fresh from his trip to Indonesia. (He's on the left.) Today, ULI's mission has become even more critical: How to transition from a Baby Boomer generation to a Millennials generation—a generation that's just as massive as the Baby Boomers, but with vastly different desires and work habits. “They have entirely different preferences in terms of where to work, where to live. It's a whole new ballgame. Atlanta is a new city. We're adapting to the same trends.”
And Millennials are directly influencing the modern development: Mixed-use that aims to attract them with both work space, living space and lifestyle amenities. And developers also now need to focus on function of buildings—energy consumption and reduced water usage. While Millennials are being lured Intown, Jeff says he's somewhat concerned with the future: Once these Millennials marry and have children, if the City's education system is still perceived to be poor, that could chase this generation back to the 'burbs. “Education is important. And it's a potential challenge… getting good education into close proximity to these urban projects.”
Jeff also just established a working group within ULI to address some key urban development issues, called Livable Communities Council, which includes such illustrious members as Regent Partners' David Allman, North American Properties' Mark Toro, Jamestown Properties' Matt Bronfman, and Selig Enterprises' Scott Selig. The groups will examine land use and redevelopment potentials for the Lindbergh area, Underground Atlanta and various MARTA TODs, Jeff says.