Southern California Development Forum brings value through educational, networking and philanthropic events around current developments in the A/E/C world. Read all about our recent events here.
Innovation Districts – a new way of looking at creating an environment – are becoming a hot topic in our world. At the recent SCDF panel, this concept was explored in depth. The panel, moderated by Josh Boren of RCLCO Real Estate Consulting, included Mitra Memari from ZGF, Rosalio Arellanes Jr. from Wexford Science and Technology, and Sam Pepper from Lincoln Property Company as expert panelists to share their experience. The three panelists discussed how innovation districts are being designed and cultivated to foster innovation, collaboration within a community, and economic growth.
Defining Innovation Districts
“How do you define innovation districts?”
Innovation districts are carefully designed to bring together a diverse range of stakeholders, such as research institutions, startups, established companies, and cultural amenities. A fundamental goal of innovation districts is to create an environment that fosters idea exchange, sparks creativity, and accelerates technological advancement. Innovation districts have become catalysts for economic revitalization and resilience in the face of global challenges by concentrating expertise, resources, and talent.
Universities: The Common Denominator
The common denominator in creating a successful innovation district that all three panelists agreed on was the need to connect and collaborate with a nearby university.
Mitra Memari, from ZGF, shared, “You need an anchor institution to help support the growth of innovation. Universities make great anchors for these types of developments. In addition, you need a lot of up-and-coming ideas from smaller organizations that are trying to build an idea. So having the support of the institution and putting those incubator spaces next to the institution helps. But most importantly you need a community.”
By developing innovation districts around universities, fostering economic development promotes collaboration between academia and industry, with the end goal of creating knowledge-based ecosystems.
Designing innovation districts
How can a company create spaces to be fully maximized when we live in a world that changes daily? When going into any project, the panelists all agreed on understanding the needs of the market and,most importantly, understanding the tenant's requirements in that particular market. When starting the design process, including the basics of design, it is critical to have market information that reflects themarket needs. Rosalio Arellanes Jr., from Wexford Science and Technology, stated, “The last thing you want to do is build a project and be able to accommodate half of the prospective tenants in the market.
When programming and designing these districts, Arellanes also said, “When we get into a project, we start talking to our partners on the ground. Whether that is the university, non-profit, community colleges, city and countyjurisdictions and broker teams. We have a team that exclusively focuses on having those conversations and creating the value proposition for that innovation district.”
Community engagement is a vital aspect of the development of innovation districts for them to be successful, sustainable, and beneficial to the innovation district.
Sam Pepper, from Lincoln Property Company, emphasized how their client Google is opening their doors to the local community. “Google sees huge value in bringing the public into their spaces. Google users want to share what they are working on and be a helpful neighbor to the local community. Googlers recognize the responsibility they have to the community, and are investing in shared amenities, arts and public programming.It isabout more than just being a good neighbor - it is about really providing the publicwithopportunities, amenities and exposureto what happens at Google.”
Meari also stated how “we have been ideating new ways to involve communities in innovation districts and reflect the work they are doing within their spaces. One of ZGF’s projects is having farmer markets on the weekends. This helps with community engagement and bringing people in.”
Innovation districts can positively impact communities by driving economic growth, creating jobs, enhancing the quality of life, and addressing pressing societal challenges. They serve as dynamic hubs of innovation, collaboration, and cultural exchange that benefit not only the individuals and businesses within the district but also the broader community and region.
No doubt, they will continue to contribute to making our developments more vibrant, exciting and collaborative for years to come.
In recent years, technology and artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various industries, and healthcare is no exception. From enhancing clinical practice to reshaping the design of healthcare facilities, these advancements have ushered in a new era of patient care. How can facilities in this market prepare for this evolution of technology? How will it impact the built environment?
At a recent panel discussion, moderated by Kenneth T. Bellian of Jensen Partners, key speakers including George R. Tingwald from Stanford Health Care Planning, Design + Construction, Kimberlee Roberts from Scripps Health, Long Duong from Kaiser Permanente, and Wesley Ramirez from UC Davis Health addressed the transformative potential of AI and technology in healthcare facilities design and construction.
Connecting the Dots
A common challenge faced by the healthcare design and construction industry is limited space and outdated infrastructure. Tingwald and Roberts highlighted the challenges in having their new hospital towers communicate with existing buildings that were designed and built 10+ years ago. The panelists agreed that in the healthcare world, it takes a long time to change. However, Tingwald remained optimistic, emphasizing that technology allows engagement of global talent and innovation to address these gaps. Ramirez added that UC Davis has been looking outside California for innovation, noting successful integration of technology at institutions like Penn Medicine and Houston Methodist. However, institutions face challenges such as cyber security and data protection. In navigating these barriers, we should embrace AI to connect the dots.
“We can no longer care only about our own universe,” concluded Tingwald, “We are now all part of the same care ecosystem.”
Futureproofing Our Facilities
AI can offer support across various areas within medical facilities, including communication speeds, compliance planning, and medication workflows. Duong stressed the importance of creating a “high-tech, high-touch environment,” viewing AI as an opportunity. Tingwald explained that AI can improve department communication and enhance patient care, citing an example that “AI has a much better success rate at reading ultrasounds than techs do.” It is evident that AI's potential impact on the medical field cannot be ignored, emphasizing the need to prepare for its integration from a design perspective and as Roberts noted “create a seamless environment of care”.
Medical institutions recognize the need for long-term planning to integrate technology effectively. Ramirez highlighted the ever-increasing needs of fiber runs and the importance of “infrastructure planning for the next 20-30 years.” Stanford has already upsized their electrical and data rooms by 20% to accommodate future technologies.
Enhance the Human Experience and Population Health
Duong noted that Kaiser Permanente is exploring innovative ways to integrate AI and leveraging data to assess population health, aiming to break down socio-economic barriers and bring care to the underserved. Citing their new medical office building in Watts, “The goal is to hopefully use AI to serve as a lifelong tutor to the underserved to improve health outcomes,” he emphasized.
However, integrating new technology requires navigating regulations and overcoming hurdles, particularly for landlocked facilities operating in outdated buildings. Roberts questioned if current regulations can be changed to accelerate the approval process for building much needed healthcare facilities.
“We need to get people out of the ER and bring care into more communities,” she emphasized.
She urged the group to leverage AI to develop creative design solutions in the built environment and operational planning. The collective effort to embrace AI reflects the understanding that all stakeholders are part of the same care ecosystem.
In conclusion, the integration of AI and technology in healthcare facilities design and construction promises to revolutionize patient care, address staffing and space challenges, and improve overall healthcare outcomes. By embracing AI, medical institutions can create a high-tech, high-touch environment that optimizes patient care and experiences while planning for long-term integration.
Just a few blocks away from the Biltmore Hotel, where SCDF hosted its panel on "Adaptive Reuse – Vacant Retail, Vacant Office and the Housing Crisis: LA at an Adaptive Reuse Crossroads,” stands over 100 vacant floors, many of which have remained empty for more than five years. The title was aptly descriptive of the next chapter of our city’s growth path.
"LA currently has nine million square feet of subleased office space sitting on the market, and this number continues to grow daily," revealed panel moderator Carl Muhlstein, executive managing director at JLL Los Angeles. It's no surprise that vacant office space has been a persistent issue in the city, with LA's office space utilization currently at a mere 55%.
Muhlstein instilled confidence in attendees by emphasizing the crucial role of housing in solving this problem. "We've survived the '.com' bubble, the great recession, the COVID-19 pandemic, but now we're ready for the great reset, and housing is a key part of that," he added.
The need to address the challenges impeding adaptive reuse development was evident to everyone at the panel.
The speakers consisted of notable individuals such as Nella McOsker from the Central City Association of Los Angeles (CCA), Simon Muir from NBP Capital, Jackson Brissette from BARDAS Investment Group, Vince Bertoni from the City of Los Angeles, Kyle Burnham from Swinerton, and Bea Hsu from Brookfield Properties Development. These experts delved into various aspects of adaptive reuse, including city and state-wide legislation, and provided insights into the challenges faced by different sectors of the industry.
Adaptive Reuse: The Old Ordinance vs. The New
Office-to-residential conversions are not a novel concept in LA. So why are we revisiting adaptive reuse as a solution to LA's office vacancy issue now? McOsker highlighted the transformative impact of the late 90s adaptive reuse ordinance:
“Twelve thousand units came online, about one third of all new housing, within that 20-year period. I think trends that we are aware of, in the last few years, are part of the reason that there’s a pause, but I think it's precisely the right moment to be asking this question. When the pandemic hit, CCA looked at this and authored a report because we saw changes in the office market once again creating an opportunity to help downtown recover.”
She further emphasized that even a small fraction of converted space can create remarkable opportunities, as approximately 5% of office space can be converted into around 8,000 rooms.
Hsu acknowledged the progress made by the 1999 adaptive reuse ordinance in unlocking development possibilities through office conversions but stated, "We're not there yet."
Vince Bertoni, the Director of Planning for the City of Los Angeles, shed light on the proposals of the new ordinance, saying, "The new ordinance aims to remove all zoning barriers... and it includes a few key components." He explained that the downtown adaptive reuse ordinance has already paved the way for the complete elimination of design barriers. Here are some of the eligibility requirements outlined in the new proposal:
In simple terms, if the proposal is confirmed today, adaptive reuse can be initiated for buildings constructed in 2008 or earlier. Additionally, buildings that are at least five years old can undergo a discretionary approval process for potential early conversion. "We believe that this will hopefully ignite housing development throughout the city," added Bertoni.
Adaptive Reuse: Incentives and Hurdles
The panel also discussed the future of LA's workforce and its impact on the need for both office and residential space in downtown LA. McOsker shared survey results indicating that 81% of employees are expected to spend at least half of their time in the office, with half of them likely to be in the office almost full-time. She stressed the importance of considering the employees who commute downtown, as the area has already become a thriving residential community with over 90,000 residents. Moreover, McOsker emphasized that accessible public transit, a wide range of housing options, vibrant restaurants, childcare facilities, and more all contribute to incentivizing a return to downtown. Creating a safe and exciting environment for employees, residents, and visitors is pivotal for driving development in LA's downtown.
Muir and Brissette highlighted the significance of design in attracting people back to the office and enticing tenants to sign leases. Muir stated that investment firms with substantial funds have limited equity for new projects, which necessitates careful selection. Brissette expanded on the factors investment groups consider, emphasizing the value of design. He said, "We prioritize design first and amenities second... People don't go to work because they want to use a bocce ball court. They wake up and feel that where they're going inspires them to do what they do, more so than working from home."
Collaboratively Planning for Future Development
The panelists emphasized the importance of collaboration throughout the adaptive reuse process. "It all starts with the right team," stated Burnham, who leads preconstruction efforts at Swinerton. He stressed the need to address significant questions up front and emphasized the importance of developing both a preconstruction and a holistic program budget, which requires lowering acquisition prices.
"Acquisition costs are starting to drop to the point where we're finding that sweet spot," Burnham concluded.
Hsu chimed in, clarifying that the problem is not that the office market is dead but rather that LA has an oversupply of office space. She stressed the need for Los Angeles to learn from other cities and address its unique challenges, such as increasingly restrictive building codes on the West Coast due to earthquake and seismic hazards.
During the Q&A session, attendees raised questions about the possibility of government subsidies to stimulate more development and the relaxation of developmental restrictions to expedite adaptive reuse conversions. Bartoni responded, "We're trying to be as flexible as possible... we don't actually know what's going to happen, and that's okay. Sometimes in planning, you think that you need to control the outcome, but you actually just need to spark creativity." Bartoni reiterated the importance of approaching adaptive reuse with a focus on sustainability and safety, as this will ultimately encourage more rebuilding in the city.
Muhlstein issued a call to action to attendees, stating, "Adaptive reuse could be the saving grace to help us overcome these problems... the silent majority needs to wake up." It is evident that collaboration among city planning, investment, preconstruction, and development is crucial to addressing the underutilization of vacant office space in Los Angeles. The new wave of adaptive reuse is approaching the City of Los Angeles, and the question that remains is how close that future really is.
For those interested in more information, the Los Angeles City Planning will host webinars on June 6, 7, and 8 to provide an overview of the proposed changes to the adaptive reuse ordinance and is encouraging community input. For more information, visit the website https://planning.lacity.org/.
When it comes to design and construction, the aviation industry pumps billions of dollars into projects that feed into the architectural, design and construction industries. And now, with the passing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – which passed in August of 2021 – with more than $25 billion earmarked for aviation needs. More than 160 people attended this month’s April meeting held at The California Club, to hear from aviation experts about what was planned.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure law has $25 billion earmarked for aviation. The budget will be allocated to three different project types: airport terminals, air pollutants and other related infrastructure investments, and air traffic facilities.
While there have already been two rounds of grants awarded, there is quite a bit more in the pipeline. What are the projects that are coming up? How is the procurement handled? What will they cost?
At the forum, representatives from five of California’s airports shared insights on how procurement processes work, how the budgets are divided and what projects were on the drawing board. Each member shared their insight on how the procurement process is handled and what RFP/RFQs were in the pipeline.
Jennifer Crawford, Syska Hennessey Group, served as the moderator. The following representatives and airports were represented:
-Long Beach Airport, Claudia Lewis, Manager if Finance and Administration
-Los Angeles World Airport, Emery Molnar, Deputy Executive Director
-Port of Oakland, Joan Zatopek, Aviation Planning & Development Manager
-Ontario International Airport, Michelle Brantley, Chief Capital Program Development Officer
-San Francisco International Airport, Nupur Sinha, Director of Planning and Environmental Affairs
A short summary of the various projects that are on the runway for each of the airport facilities follows:
Long Beach Airport
More than $120 million of funding for various projects has been underway for The Long Beach Airport Phase II Terminal Area improvements since July of 2018; several other projects are slated for completion by February 2024. These include:
-A $10 million taxiway B that was completed as of November 2021
-A $26 million taxiway improvement project that was completed as of December 2022
-A $9.5 million runway rehabilitation project that is currently under construction, with completion slated for September of 2023
-A $10 million taxilane reconstruction project that is currently in the bidding phase, with completion slated for September 2024
“All of this will have a huge impact on our customer experience as well as drastically improve inbound and outbound passenger flow, so we were awarded $10.5 million in the first round. We did not apply for the second round simply because we are a small airport, small staff and don’t have the bandwidth,” said Claudia Lewis, the Manager of Finance and Administration for the Long Beach Airport. “We do have plans for applying for projects in the upcoming rounds.”
Los Angeles World Airport
As the second largest (and busiest) airport in the US – ranking behind the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport – LAX sees more than 88+ million passengers a year. Its current $30 billion capital improvement program will transform LAX into an enjoyable experience, even though until then passengers will need to navigate masses amount of construction pathways.
The new LAX will include a wide variety of multiple task order contracts including all access road renovation, a North and South airfield program, concourse work in addition to:
-T9: A new 1.4 million Sq. Ft. building that will be separate from the rest of the airport but connected with a pedestrian bridge to connect to the opposite side of Sepulveda Blvd from the airport. This will be accessible with the Automated People Mover and the new roadway access.
-Concourse 0: An extension of Terminal 1 in the space where LAX-it is currently located, the new terminal will be home to a variety of airlines and include an outdoor lounge space. LAX-it will be moved to a location with access to the Automated People Mover. It is currently in the design phase with the goal of having some portions of it open prior to the 2028 Olympics.
-A new roadway network that will separate airport traffic from local traffic, allowing less congestion in neighborhoods and smooth flow of traffic on Sepulveda.
-Airfield improvements that are designed to help increase safety and efficiency of the north airfield.
-Cargo modernization program
-Signage and Wayfinding enhancement program
Landscape beautification will take place on 13 potential acres that could be transformed into pedestrian plazas between the central terminal area parking lots and the arrival level using the existing crosswalks. This is currently in the design phase with completion expected in 2026.
“We received approximately $58 million in the first round and $30 million in the second round which have been designated for our ATMP roads,” said Emery Molnar, who has worked with LAX on projects such as the North Terminal Inline Baggage Screening, Delta T5, Delta T5 Landside Improvements and Westfield Concessions as well as T1, T2 and T3 airside developments.
Port of Oakland
The Port of Oakland currently has several RFPs coming up over the next few years. These include:
For 2023 (some of these are advertised now):
-Taxiway Whiskey (W) Rehab Phase I construction, $14.4 million
-Prime builder for restroom rehab construction, $25 million
-On call planning consulting service, $5-$8 million
-On call sanitary sewer design: $3 million
-Sustainability Management Plan consultant services, $2-$3 million
-Energy audit, $1 million
-Airport perimeter Dike Phase 2, Seismic construction, $30 - $40 million
-Substation construction, $35 - $40 million
Upcoming projects for 2024 – 2025 include more than $77 million projects all of which are expected to move forward with procurement efforts with the release of the first RFP in first quarter, 2024.
“We have a growing capital program focusing on upgrading aging infrastructure and improving customer amenities” emphasizes Joan Zatopek, Aviation Planning and Development Manager who currently oversees the eight-member team in planning, funding and managing the Aviation Capital Program which averages $100 million annually. “We’ll be using some of our BIL funding for the Airport Perimeter Dike seismic upgrades retrofit, which is scheduled to bid later this year.”
Ontario International Airport
Ontario has divided their projects down as follows:
-$8 million Airport Drive Reconstruction project
-$19 million Avion Realignment & Reconstruction project
-$40 million runway program
-$6 million terminal roof replacement
-$21 million parking lot improvement
-$7 million baggage system controls
-$7 million chillers & cooling tower replacements
-$2.7 million preconditioned air units
One question from the audience centered on breaking into the industry, starting with some of the smaller jobs as an entry point.
“We’re about to run an advertisement for a job order contract that would be an opportunity for some smaller projects, but multiple times over,” said Michelle Brantley, who oversees the capital improvement projects and improvements at Ontario International Airport. “Keep an eye out for this list for smaller jobs that may serve as an entry point.”
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
As SFO wraps up its $7.3B capital program, it is preparing to launch several new projects which are being funded from various sources from airport bonds, AIP grants, and BIL (competitive and formula-based) funds. These short-term projects will be followed by a new major capital program in 2024 to address SFO’s replacement and growth in the next 10 years. SFO leadership is currently considering project priorities that range from gate requirements, support facility replacements, parking and roadway improvement, infrastructure improvements, and sustainability/resiliency efforts. The short-term construction project announcements include:
-BIL airport terminal grant (competitive) – Using the 2023 $31M funds received for International Terminal re-roofing, water-proofing, and new solar panels (CM/GC method of delivery complaint with the FAA requirements)
-BIL formula-based allocation (guaranteed) – SFO received $50M per year for the first 3 years based on 2019 enplanement number. In 2023 $150M funds will be used for Advanced Waste Treatment and Recycled Water Distribution project (Progressive Design-Build method of delivery to be used, that FAA will follow closely and learn from)
The West Field Redevelopment Program three progressive design-build RFPs slated for 2023 include:
-Q2 2023 - Eight-story, 1,100 staff parking garage, AirTrain connectivity, utility upgrades and demolition of existing structures for contractor staging, employee parking and aircraft RON parking.
-Q2 2023 - Phase 1 includes over 350,000 sq ft cargo/warehouse in two facilities and under 20,000 sq. ft. (about four times the area of a basketball court) for GSE (ground services equipment repair/maintenance) facility along with adjacent aircraft RON parking and taxiway improvements.
-Q4 2023 – Eleven-story multi-tenant tower, utility upgrades, AirTrain connectivity, roadway improvements, and employee amenities program.
“At SFO, we believe delivering a project on time and on budget isn’t the only measure of success,” emphasized Nupur Sinha, Director of Planning and Environmental Affairs for the airport. “Because most aviation projects require a long planning, funding, design, and construction timeline, we realize it is key to remain flexible and adaptable. Therefore, we focus on learning from our stakeholder, design, and construction partners during the Progressive Design-Build delivery process, to co-create projects goals and objections, that meaningfully serve our guests, employees and the planet.”
Ensuring diverse partners are incorporated into the procurement process was the key theme for those who attended The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) panel discussion on March 14, 2023. Aptly named “How Diversity Informs Procurement,” attendees got a first-hand perspective of how some of the leading companies -- from gaming to entertainment properties -- are incorporating key diversity initiatives into their process.
Abbey Ehman, Lincoln Property Company, served as the moderator of the event and curated the panel of top experts. Panelists included Alex Kim, Riot Games; Dink Jason Toller, Shadowbox Studios; Jason Witt, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park; and Jennifer Trotter, Plenary Americas.
The importance of diverse vendors
One of the key themes all panelists cited in how they have incorporated diversity into their procurement process has been related to their various personal backgrounds. Trotter cited her heritage and growing up where the built environment was changing rapidly around her.
“I was navigating the world as a bi-racial kid growing up in San Diego along the border. A key moment in my childhood was this freeway being built near my high school. As a teenager, all I could do was think about the people who were losing their homes there. So that really drove me to pursue a career in planning, community development and economic development,” Trotter noted. “I fell into supplier diversity at the same time and really have been able to help meld those ideas together about the forms of community engagement and supplier diversity workforce development, so that there are equal opportunities for contracts, for jobs, and for knowledge.”
Kim cited his own background as an Asian-American starting out as a superintendent. He noted that his respect came from being in the field as he built his career. He now serves as the principal of global real estate, design and construction at Riot Games.
“The way I got respect in the industry was by doing manual labor, picking up the shovel. Through that camaraderie, I gained so much respect for the folks in our field every day. Now, I love creating and fostering culture where even the quiet voices in the room are amplified, hearing all the opinions, voices and representation – these are all crucial to any product success.”
Diversity in procurement efforts
Jason Witt, Director of Community Engagement for Hollywood Park Management Company, discussed how his company has built their programs to ensure diversity in all the company’s procurement processes. He cited being intentional as a cultural aspect including how the company recruits, actively diversifying their procurement streams, and intentionally focusing on local business.
“People need to see you’re a part of the community,” he noted.
Since the SoFi Stadium build, and the creation of the retail district in the area which now includes the American Airlines Plaza, the projects have been able to draw in more than $850 million in diversity spend. Witt noted that they’ve been able to provide $120 million in wages to the community of South Los Angeles and another $40 million in wages to Inglewood residents working in construction right now in their own backyard.
Toller cited a similar theme: intentionality. Toller has worked with Netflix and Amazon Studios and noted that one of the prominent developments for Netflix near Burbank was key in increasing the company’s diversity of suppliers.
“First, you have to know if this is something you genuinely believe in or if it’s checking off a box as an edict from your corporate office,” Toller said.
It was important to him that they approach their procurement process for this project with a diverse lens in mind from the beginning, starting with their construction personnel interview process.
“50% of the project ended up being diverse. But that wasn't enough for me. I'm a pretty competitive person. So I said, ‘What else can we do?’ We have an industry that's getting older and grayer and not necessarily feeling as well as we could.”
The team partnered with LA Trade Tech, coordinated trade interns, and had them follow the project from day one to delivery. Down to catering, Toller’s team wanted to ensure diverse suppliers and hired a minority-owned restaurant for catering.
“What I’ve realized is one, if you're with a large firm and use your bully pulpit, you have something and two, if you're not one of the larger firms, you can still share your passion. Because passion is contagious, and people will go along with you. We never set a goal. We never told someone what percentage of diverse suppliers we wanted. We just said let’s go do it, not just talk about it.”
"That intentional aspect is key," added Ehman, the moderator. “The report card speaks for itself.”
When it comes to adding or increasing diverse suppliers to their process, panelists encouraged consistent and fair manners in their practices, leaving egos at the door, thinking about related partners in your programming, workforce training, not being afraid of what you don’t know, and pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones.
How can today's campuses engage and support students, attract faculty and make these institutions work financially as they expand their building footprints?
Those who attended The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) hosted a panel discussion on February 21, 2023, titled "Campus Trends in Higher Education" and got an insider's look at various campuses' perspectives.
Deborah Wylie, Master Planning Director with Cordoba Corporation at BUILD LACCD, moderated the discussion. Panelists included Jay Bond, Senior Consultant at Brailsford and Dunlavey; Sarab D. Singh, CCM, PMP, CEFP, Associate Vice President, Capital Programs & Facilities Management at Cal State Fullerton; Lauren Friedman, Executive Director, Design & Construction, University of California, Office of the President; and Matthew Bibbens, Vice President of Campus Planning and Capital Projects, and Special Counsel at Claremont McKenna College.
Campuses, like businesses, have seen a lot of changes since the pandemic and are making shifts, including in classroom technology, sustainability efforts, outdoor space, and even the use of office or shared workspaces for faculty as some campuses are coming back full time and others are still hybrid.
State Budgets, Infrastructure and Campus Populations
State budgets dictate what projects progress and at what rate as campuses increase their footprint and enrollment.
"We have expanded to 10 campuses across the state with medical facilities and three research facilities, including our agriculture natural resources, which has a presence throughout the state. We now have over 227,000 faculty and staff and 280,000 students and are the third largest employer in California. One of our biggest drivers is an agreement with the state of California with the governor and the legislature to increase our enrollment by 23,000 students by 2030. You can see that that will have great impacts on the work that we do and the facilities that we need to provide. It goes everywhere from housing to educational buildings to support buildings and student spaces," said Friedman.
Sharing this sentiment, Bibbens pointed out that the increased need for student support space to create a sense of belonging on campus is critical, in addition to addressing student housing needs.
"We're a residential college, and we had to assess how students would react to COVID and post-COVID transition; it's been fascinating. There's a huge desire from our students to be back on campus in our market. From what Lauren mentioned, this whole process has reinforced the value of the on-campus experience."
The campus of the future is changing. The panelists cited everything from constructing a new sports bowl, surgery center, and aquatics center to using panelized systems and mass timber.
"It's great to see that college campus buildings are evolving to meet the needs of their student community. We've had good luck with dimensional analysis systems, which we've been looking into for a while. So many things can really help us with our sustainability efforts. We are interested in researching mass timber based on a project at Berkeley," said Friedman.
No matter the infrastructure or design developments utilized, at the heart of it, Wylie brought the conversation full circle and pointed out the actual point of the campus: connection.
"You can learn on a computer but can't get to know someone without going to school with them. It's these connections that you make. It's burning popcorn in your dorm room together. Only seeing people on a screen affects your ability to be as creative, inventive, and collaborative."
The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) is an organization that brings together a community of leaders to discuss the latest trends, strategies and projects in the real estate industry. The organization hosted a discussion on Jan. 26, 2023, to analyze the economy of California and provide an outlook on the current climate of development and construction opportunities across the U.S.
The two presenters were Nathan Adkins, senior economist of CBRE, and Brad Ross, managing director and head of originations of Parkview Financial.
Commercial Real Estate Market Forecast
Key findings from Adkins’ presentation included:
- Industrial: The industrial market within fast-growing cities is predicted to remain strong. E-commerce bolsters the industrial market demand as well, through an increase in online purchases by consumers.
- Office: Class A office spaces are popular in the U.S. as people begin returning to the office following the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Retail: Retail centers’ performances are expected to accelerate beyond pre-pandemic levels. Also, well-located retail centers are expected to benefit from steady disposable income growth. Consumers will likely continue to buy more food, which benefits leisure-oriented retail centers.
- Multifamily: There is a persistent shortage of multifamily housing across Southern California and those renting will likely live in cities longer.
- Labor market: The labor market is experiencing increased costs as wages go up, forcing companies to raise prices on goods and services that consumers purchase. To afford the cost of living, employees request even higher wages from their employers. For the construction industry in particular, while labor costs do remain high, costs may go down as higher interest rates will impact employment.
- Inflation: Major contributors to overall inflation, such as gasoline and used car prices, have slowed considerably in recent months, helping to decrease year-over-year consumer price index (CPI) growth. While inflation is high, it is predicted to come down to about 3% by the end of the year.
Inflation Impact on Borrowers and Lenders
Brad Ross of Parkview Financial analyzed the current inflation effect on commercial real estate.
Ross explained that stagnation of interest rates has occurred. On the borrower's end, the ratio between the cost of a property is a higher yield than the overall value expectancy within a quarterly-annual yield rate. This brings a huge gap in loan cost expectancy that national banks can no longer adhere to. On the buyer's side, private equity companies have been able to compensate for loan equity costs that central banks are financially unequipped to supply. Additionally, the private funds increase the cap yield on interest rates but package each loan within a securitized CMBS bond.
Additionally, the offset of loan-to-cost (LTC) to loan-to-value (LTV) has created a forbearance, meaning that the agreement between the lender and the borrower will delay a foreclosure. Often a fourth-party joint venture equity partner has to step in and provide funding for the early stages of construction. This partnership is a result of rising interest rates and has had a direct result in driving up capital markets.
The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) is an organization that brings together a community of real estate leaders on the latest trends, strategies and projects, while also providing networking opportunities. The organization hosted a panel discussion on Nov. 7, 2022, to discuss the impact that current and forecasted economic fundamentals are having on real estate development.
Patrick Rhodes, Vice President of Development at Brookfield Properties, served as the moderator for panelists Alex Valente, Senior Vice President of Trammell Crow Company; Matt Howell, Senior Vice President of Lincoln Property Company; and Jim Andersen, Chief Development Officer of Chelsea Investment Corporation.
Underwriting and New Development Opportunities
The moderator opened the discussion by acknowledging the very real effects of COVID on capital market conditions. “There are plenty of things to be concerned about, but real estate developers remain highly optimistic,” said Rhodes.
In Los Angeles specifically, Alex Valente is confident in the market’s recovery. “We feel confident with the great sites, great market, great demographics and dynamics. Hopefully, we can overcome the challenges we’re facing now in terms of how we underwrite deals for new development,” he said.
Valente also spoke to the power of rent growth in the market during turbulent times. “There will still be rent growth, perhaps not as much as there has been year over year. As a result, everyone’s working to underwrite great growth to help companies, as well as make the deals make sense for us financially.”
The Future of Office
Howell spoke about the existing use and future development opportunities in the office market.
“We expected many tenants to slow down their operations, but many of them have reconfigured their businesses and how they will use their office space,” he said. Howell also explained that many companies are also focused on reducing their carbon footprint and subsequently, their square-footage while not terminating their leases outright.
“In terms of future builds, we’re looking at builds that accommodate online sciences, other R&D-type stations and content creation,” he said. “We’re witnessing the evolution of what the office is going to look like and how we will use it moving forward. I think there’s going to be a tremendous demand for this tenant group.”
Jim Andersen spoke to how the business surrounding affordable housing is changing given the current economic climate.
“Probably 60 to 70% of renters in Los Angeles County that are on the edge of not being able to afford the place we live. These are people we see every day in our offices and our daily lives,” Andersen said. He went on to explain that most California cities had an adequate supply of housing, the longtime pressure of high rents has allowed only the “highest possible cohort” to occupy this housing while excluding a significant number of people from access to safe and affordable housing. “Presently, the crisis is such that it was declared an emergency in Sacramento,” he said.
“Money is currently being steered towards the goal of alleviating homelessness. [Chelsea Investment Corporation] is currently building a project in Skid Row that will be 286 units. It’s taken seven years to get off the ground and we’re a year and a half into the project.”
In conclusion, though there has been some uncertainty in real estate development due to ongoing economic and structural changes, leaders believe that with strategy and resiliency, the market will rebound.
The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) is an organization that brings together a community of real estate leaders on the latest trends, strategies and projects, while also providing networking opportunities. The organization hosted a panel discussion on Oct. 18, 2022, to discuss the driving tenant lease demand for studio and entertainment real estate in Los Angeles in a post-pandemic world.
Trevor Shulters, a regional director for cost management with the Cumming Group, served as the moderator for panelists John Wiedner, principal of Gensler; David Malmuth, president of David Malmuth, LLC; Amy Pokawatana, vice president of development design for Hudson Pacific Properties, and Brooke Edwards, a director with Cushman & Wakefield.
Amenities for New or Renovated Movie and Television Studios
Amenities are crucial for effective studio spaces says Pokawatana at Hudson Pacific Properties. Her latest project in the U.K. includes a fitness center and a nursery which makes it easier for those who work at the studio lot that operates 24 hours a day.
“Being able to provide them with a place to eat, daycare services and other options is something that we are thinking long and hard about,” explains Pokawatana. “Our thought process is how to do as much as we can so that it is beneficial for all types of tenants.”
Wiedner with Gensler says developers and studio professionals are also looking outside the walls of the studios and focusing on the local neighborhood and what kind of projects can be supported.
Types of Studio Tenants
Edwards of Cushman & Wakefield is seeing an influx into the studio market because of streaming services. Tenants now range from Warner Bros., which has been in the industry for years, to Amazon Studios and Netflix which are trying to make their mark and pick up big pieces of space, she says.
Evolving Technology In Studio Spaces
Technology itself has changed dramatically in the last three years, which in turn impacts development, adds Wiedner. Evolutions to the studio business in film and TV production include LED walls, and there is also a big push to provide an infrastructure that is flexible and sustainable.
“We are looking at sustainability as a big asset,” says Wiedner. “Recycling programs and electrification systems are all really important aspects.”
Pokawatana says lighting and acoustics are traditional assets of a soundstage while elevators, a secondary structural system or electrical needs for virtual uses are additional assets.
Malmuth of David Malmuth works on traditional soundstages that have been adapted to a new environment. For instance, he has adapted the Paramount soundstage by compressing the large space, which has been in use for over 100 years, into a much smaller space.
Advice for Industry Professionals
Malmuth says you have to create something in the market that delivers a superior user experience at a price that makes sense. “We are trying to match all of those capabilities together into something that is really extraordinary because that is how you will be successful."
In conclusion, studio and entertainment real estate need as many amenities as possible to serve a variety of clients. Technology and sustainability are also key to the evolution of the studio business.
The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) is an organization that brings together a community of real estate leaders on the latest trends, strategies, projects and provides networking opportunities. The organization hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, discussing how the increase in institutional, private, and commercial research has driven a highly competitive landscape that attracts the best talent, and how organizations are evaluating space and facilities, funding sources, and interdisciplinary opportunities to entice researchers that will drive innovation within the markets.
Shaun Stiles, Executive Director of Cushman & Wakefield, served as the moderator for panelists Coomy Kadribegovic, Senior Manager of Caltech; Talena Williamson, Project Controls Senior Manager of Amgen; and Brian Cooper, Director of Manufacturing, Tech Transfer of Takeda.
Attracting and Retaining Talent in the Current Economy
“We hire the best of the best and give them labs, spaces, and the tools they want and need to do what they do best,” said Coomy Kadribegovic, Senior Manager at Caltech. “We are learning that these researchers are very community-oriented and want to know how their spaces function in terms of their students, who they interact with, and they also want to be surrounded by other distinguished scientists.”
The California Institute of Technology, Caltech, is a private research university in Pasadena that attracts world-renowned talent from all over the world.
Talena Williamson, Senior Manager at Amgen, says in terms of retaining talent, it’s important for companies to realize it’s not always about the job, but the career.
“It’s all about the culture and what makes you want to come to work every day,” says Williamson. “At Amgen, they really offer a sense of community and purpose of doing something better for the world.”
The Shifting Economy and Challenges it Brings
A common question asked among industry experts amidst the pandemic is how do we efficiently optimize the spaces we operate in.
“It’s not about revamping lab spaces anymore, but transforming older spaces to fit the needs of the future,” explains Williamson.
Brian Cooper, Director of Manufacturing at Takeda, says a huge change he has noticed since the pandemic is the process of building capital projects and corporate managers are more open to carrying costs.
“When they fund a capital project, they basically expect us to issue POs for the entire project as soon as we get funding,” explained Cooper. “We’d much rather have the materials sitting on the dock ready to go, rather than holding up a project because we are waiting for a shipment to come in.”
Due to the state of today’s supply chain, companies are strategically planning much further in advance to ensure materials are arriving ahead of time to make sure capital projects stay on their designated timeline.
Kadribegovic says Caltech has started a sustainability program where the sustainability manager hands out plaques to professors they work with during the design process. It is a small effort to get the occupants excited about sustainability in operations.
“It’s real basic stuff like turning off the lights, unplugging equipment when not in use, etc.” explains Kadribegovic. “But I think it will go a long way in starting conversations about sustainability and what that looks like.”
Digital and Automation Demand
The shift to remote work awoke a technological demand among consumers. Wi-Fi and laptops are now critical for the workforce.
“There is definitely a stronger appetite for more digital and remote work,” says Williamson. “It is more enticing to new talent when you have top-level technology and equipment that can push your company to the forefront.”
Correspondingly, Cooper says he’s noticed there is a much higher expectation among design engineers than it was just two years ago.
As the world, the economy, and the industries we work in constantly shift to adapt to the current trends, it is no secret that digital and flexible work will persist. Luckily, in terms of hiring and retaining talent, offering flexible, remote and digital work will continue to prove to be a huge advantage in attracting the best talent and expanding the talent pool which we all pull from.
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