Last Week at BMAC
At our Bisnow Multifamily Annual Conference (we call it BMAC) last week in DC, Gables Residential SVP Joe Wilber (with AvalonBay SVP Jon Cox) said mixed-use can distinguish a new project, pointing to a 24-story tower his firm's building in Austin with a 160-key hotel on floors 1-8 and apartments on top. (As a kid, we thought living in a hotel would be neat. But at this point, we would settle simply living on one.) Mill Creek Residential's Chip Bay agrees, adding that if a new project is mixed-use from the start, it can even be easier to get entitlements since a jurisdiction will get the added benefit of retail or hotel business.
One of our keynotes, Fortune editor and bestselling author Leigh Gallagher, reports that suburbs are changing dramatically, as developers realize the demand for livelier urban communities outside a city core. (You can take the girl out of the city... but don't make it look that way.) Leigh, who just covered the topic in her book, The End of the Suburbs, says since the American Dream isn't just about owning a suburban home anymore, developers have responded by creating urban-like communities in traditional settings, with all the amenities and feel of cities.
Kettler CEO Bob Kettler (with National Multi-Housing Council prez Doug Bibby) says the suburbs aren't over just yet, since Millennials who crave urban settings will soon want a place to raise a family. (They've seen it on The Sims, so the concept isn't completely foreign.) The key is creating communities somewhere in between urban infill and suburban expanse, he says. Also, Alliance Residential CEO Brad Cribbins notes Millennials' parents are seeking a hip lifestyle without the hassle of suburban home ownership. Demand for high-quality rentals and condos will probably remain high as a result, says Brad.