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Bryce Blair and Sam Zell Wax Nostalgic

National Multifamily

How many multifamily icons does it take to screw in a light bulb? We're not sure, but we do know they love to reminisce and give great advice.


When Bryce Blair was AvalonBay's CEO, he exchanged ideas over lunch with Boston Properties' co-founder Ed Linde. This week, he appropriately won the Edward H. Linde industry leadership award at REITWorld in San Francisco. Ed, who passed in 2010, did most of the giving at those meals while Bryce did most of the taking as a young 40-something CEO. Bryce thinks that sense of camaraderie is rare in other industries. The timing of his award coincides with the week of AvalonBay's IPO 20 years ago. Bryce fondly remembers seeing the first trade come across while standing on the NYSE floor in '93 (we wonder if shoulder pads are also seared in his mind).


Billionaire quote machine Sam Zell delivered a groundbreaking speech in 1993 that kicked off the modern REIT era. The chairman of the largest apartment REIT in the US reflected on those words Thursday, noting the industry's market cap has grown from $7B to $700B. However, he thinks issues from the "pretend and extend" recessionary years in 2007 to 2009 haven't been resolved; there's still a lot of over-leveraged real estate. He says the industry could benefit from higher interest rates to create a "sense of urgency." (We'd be better investors and operators if there were consequences for failure to act, he says.)

Related Topics: Sam Zell, Ed Linde