FORM was media sponsor for the Vantage Forum 2011, an annual day-long symposium put on by UCLA Ziman School and ULI this January 11. It was a series of panel discussions featuring high-powered people from real estate divided roughly into 4 topics: Housing, Office, Retail, and Capital Markets.
I can’t say there was any earth-shattering news. We all suspect that the economy is recovering via some combination of government stimulus, cash too long on the sidelines, and simple recession fatigue. Nevertheless, there were a lot of great take-aways that might be guiding principles for marketing strategies in the design business.
First and foremost, where is the money? It turns out the retailers have it--not retail developers, but retailers like Safeway. Fascinating story: Safeway needed to expand, but the developers that normally build their centers could not get financing. Safeway had regular cash flow and started its own development company. It uses its highly tuned in-house demographics operation to ID compatible partners (eg. Target) to build new centers with.