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EagleBank Changemakers: Rooney Holdings' Kathleen Rooney On How Technology Can Combat Rising CRE Costs

"EagleBank is proud to present the DMV Changemakers Series, sharing the experience, work and perspectives of innovative real estate business leaders across various backgrounds and sectors in the Washington, D.C., market. At EagleBank, we have a singular purpose: to be community builders. Our CRE financing continues to make a positive impact in communities throughout the mid-Atlantic. Our partners are setting the standard for the CRE industry by consistently delivering projects that are aligned with their communities’ needs.” — Susan Riel, president and CEO, EagleBank

Rooney Properties President Kathleen Rooney

Rooney Holdings President Kathleen Rooney runs the privately held Washington, D.C., investment firm specializing in multifamily, office and industrial projects, as a piece of the Rooney Holdings group of companies, which includes Rooney Finance Co., Rooney Insurance, OAI Electronics Inc. and Manhattan Construction Group. 

Rooney is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and an MBA recipient from Georgetown University McDonough School of BusinessBisnow recently spoke with Rooney about her accomplishments over the coronavirus pandemic and what she believes are the biggest opportunities for investment in the post-pandemic commercial real estate landscape.

Bisnow: What's been your proudest accomplishment during the past 18 months?

Rooney: Operating companies to navigate the pandemic, which has been a team accomplishment. It’s been great to see how creative and innovative our team has become since the pandemic. They’ve adapted quickly by developing new processes and identifying changes we needed to make to ensure the safety of our offices and job sites. This included procuring PPE early, setting up sanitizing stations and implementing staggered shifts — essential changes that were very new to us and our industry as a whole. 

Bisnow: Did you have any particularly stressful days while leading your firm through the pandemic? How did you get through?

Rooney: Early in the pandemic when there was a lot of uncertainty, stress levels were high across our entire organization. I’m proud to say that all of our division and regional leaders have handled the last year and a half incredibly well. 

We held weekly meetings with leadership to understand the operational challenges we would face as a company as well as any obstacles that our employees would face outside of the workplace. This heightened and consistent communication was invaluable in powering through the last year and a half. 

Bisnow: How do you and your firm advocate for and advance the interests of underrepresented groups in CRE, whether by gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.?

Rooney: We strive across all of our companies to reflect respect for all individuals. We have established a reputation of integrity and fairness and work across all our companies to build upon these principles and values. 

Bisnow: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing commercial real estate right now and as the biggest opportunity for investment in the post-pandemic CRE world? 

Rooney: Rising construction costs and labor shortages in the construction industry are certainly two of the most significant challenges that are impacting the CRE industry. However, I believe that one of the largest areas for investment moving forward can be found in CRE technology. Increased investment in systems that can reduce inefficiencies in buildings can lead not only to cost savings, but also to the reduction of the environmental impact of development. 

There is some increasing research and development in concrete that can actually help developer’s reduce carbon footprint such as better and more sustainable building materials and HVAC systems that require less refrigerant. The ability to use technology to increase development and benefit communities while also being mindful of the environmental impact is a huge opportunity. 

This article was produced in collaboration between EagleBank and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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