ULI Conference

ZONE is in the nation’s capital for the Fall Urban Land Institute Conference.  Here’s an initial report:

Regarding the recession and its effect on the real estate market:  We are either “bouncing along the bottom” or emerging speedily from it – depending on where you live/work (D.C. and the Southwest are moving up reasonably quickly; Northeast and Midwest are now coming out of the bottom) or the product you’re selling/buying (residential ownership is quite flat; multi-family rental is heading up).

Trends in the hospitality industry?  Travelers want luxury, but are striving for informality and intimacy – new urban hotels will move towards a “no lobby, no front desk model” and resort properties will no longer be “gated” and will seek to “bring local community.”

Trends in the nation’s growth and development:  a).  Urbanites are staying put.  Based on early reports from the 2010 census and various demographic modeling and projections, US cities are gaining population, with urban counties experiencing faster growth now than earlier in this decade; b). With Baby Boomers entering the ranks of the “early elderly,” the 65 and older segment of the population will go from 12% to 20%; c). The slow-down in migration to Nevada, Arizona, Florida and California will result in a stabilization of New York’s population – and an increase in the population of WOOFs (well off old folks) in Manhattan [WOOFs live in high-rise, full-service buildings with access to cultural amenities and can get virtually anything delivered to their door.]  Indeed, over the next 3 decades, the largest growth in population will be among what’s being called the “young elderly” (ages 65-74).

All in all, things are looking up for residential rental properties, intimate hotels, and urban areas.  Do you agree?