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Bisnow Director Kim Schell Is Leading The Charge As Texas CRE Transforms

Bisnow Director Kim Schell (second from right) with family at the Astros game.

As several of Texas’ major cities make moves to revitalize their buildings through adaptive reuse, Bisnow has been keeping the commercial real estate industry informed about how they can get involved. Bisnow Director Kim Schell, who is at the helm of this effort in Houston, Austin and San Antonio, is looking forward to witnessing these buildings’ transformation and how adaptive reuse will impact these cities.

“Adaptive reuse is an especially great technique for urban areas with large populations, as it helps make buildings more attractive for residents and tenants,” Schell said. “Whenever I see an adaptive reuse project, especially in buildings that have been sitting empty for years, I’m excited to see a project go from a vision to a completed building.”

Bisnow sat down with Schell to discuss how clients can leverage Bisnow’s resources, the state of adaptive reuse in urban areas of Texas and how she helps to create meaningful connections in CRE.

Bisnow: What’s working for clients in Texas? What marketing approaches have clients been embracing to create more business?

Schell: The clients in these cities seeing the best results are utilizing a combination of Bisnow’s offerings: sponsoring events, publishing custom content through the Studio B platform and putting their brand out in digital publications, such as the morning briefs. 

Marketing has gotten more sophisticated in recent years. While branding was always important, thought leadership continues to grow in popularity as another tool for a marketing campaign. People want to know why you’re the expert and the unique perspective that you have about an industry they want to learn more about. Having strong branding combined with showcasing knowledge through digital content and/or attending an event is a powerful combination; Texas-based clients can tell their story and educate their audience without appearing too salesy.

Bisnow Director Kim Schell with co-workers celebrating their win at Bisnow's inaugural Churchill Challenge in honor of former Bisnow CEO Will Friend.

Bisnow: Where do you see Texas heading in the next year? What trends are you seeing that you're the most excited about?

Schell: While Houston is a city with relatively young buildings, I’ve been seeing more buildings from the 1910s and 1920s that are still standing instead of being torn down, something that is usually pretty unheard of in the region. I’m excited to see the adaptive reuse and historic preservation projects that are taking place, especially in the downtown areas.

Houston also has a surplus of office buildings that were constructed in the 1980s and 1990s that could use some revitalization. In the Houston suburbs particularly, we're seeing a large number of Class-B and Class-C office buildings that are becoming obsolete because of the flight to quality for Class-A buildings. Many big companies want the amenities that Class-A and Class A+ buildings offer, where they can walk to restaurants and have access to shopping.

Austin’s downtown is denser than Houston’s but it’s starting to spread out a little more. By nature, Austin has been doing a lot of adaptive reuse projects and ensuring that their spaces are in desirable locations, close to the amenities that people want. These are sure to attract young professionals in downtown Austin and even out in the suburbs, who value a work-life balance and want things to do near their offices. 

San Antonio is geographically close to Austin, but is such a different market in terms of its historical culture and the types of businesses attracted to San Antonio. There’s been an outflow of people who want to be near Austin, but without the high price tag of being downtown. The region has a strong hospitality market and has also been seeing more industrial, multifamily and especially healthcare projects.

Bisnow: What inspired you to pursue a career at Bisnow?

Schell: I worked at a Houston-based publication doing CRE advertising sales for 17 years. While I was initially hesitant to leave that position, every time I spoke with someone from Bisnow, including our late CEO Will Friend, I was impressed by the high energy and how smart everyone was. I knew that I wanted to be part of that culture. 

My colleagues and I do whatever it takes to get the job done, but also help one another get to where we want to be. We’re competitive, but when we have successes, we cheer for each other. It’s a very unique culture here and I’m extremely proud to be a part of it.

Bisnow Director Kim Schell with her sons Connor and Brandon at Moms' Night for their high school varsity baseball team.

Bisnow: What do you like most about your role at Bisnow?

Schell: I enjoy working with my colleagues as well as our clients in the Houston market. Hands-down the best experience for me has been learning more about the interesting people I work with. I’ve been involved in CRE through media marketing and advertising, and I fell in love with the fast pace of it. It’s a fascinating industry, and there’s always room to learn and grow.

Bisnow: What makes you unique?

Schell: I’m the person to call on when someone needs help, whether it’s a co-worker, a client or even somebody who doesn’t do business with us. I’ll meet somebody and find ways to make a great connection with them. I have this ability to really get to know someone and tend to remember pieces of information that may be important to them, like when their kids’ birthdays are. It’s helped me become successful at building relationships.

I thrive in moments of stress and chaos, and especially when it comes to meeting deadlines. This makes me a great person to have around when it’s crunch time.

Bisnow: What's one life goal you want to accomplish?

Schell: My biggest goal is to continue raising my sons to be good humans and to make sure that they work hard and are respectful to others.

I played soccer at a high level when I was younger and I worked in restaurants when I was 15 and all throughout college. These experiences teach you a lot about how to treat others, and in the case of team sports, how to be a strong competitor, but also how to win and lose graciously. These experiences have made me who I am and I want to pass on those lessons to my kids.