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2019 Trends Conference Recap

Posted By Paige Riemann, Wednesday, October 16, 2019


A record-breaking crowd of 260 Wisconsin Real Estate Alumni and friends gathered on September 25-26 for the 2019 Wisconsin Real Estate Trends Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Conference attendees networked, met new contacts and heard industry experts discuss “What’s Next?” in real estate.


The Conference Planning Committee which was co-chaired by Jaime Fink and Michael Zelin and included Alexis Block, Cody Langeness, Lamar Newburn, Jim Roemer, and Daniel Sherman, planned a stellar program with up-to-the-minute topics.  Many thanks to the twenty-five sponsors whose generosity made the program possible. Thanks also to all who attended the event.  We hope that you found the conference beneficial and enjoyable!


Conference Highlights

The conference kicked-off on Wednesday, September 25 with a VIP Reception where board members, guest speakers, Partners and Event Sponsors networked on the rooftop garden at the Radisson Blu Aqua. Immediately following, all attendees gathered for the Welcome Reception, on the roof deck at One Two Pru. The perfect weather, fantastic food and breathtaking views of Millennium Park, Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline, made this a special and memorable event. 


On Thursday morning, attendees gathered at the Mid-America Club where the day's program began with Keynote Speaker, Jimmy Hinton. Hinton, the Senior Managing Director of Investments & Analytics of Transwestern, shared his thoughts on late cycle investing and what he foresees for the real estate markets for 2020. He discussed the uncertainly in the industry caused by current events, including the trade wars, BREXIT, and impeachment proceedings, as well as a number of other considerations that will impact investments in 2020. He left the audience to consider the possibility, that transaction volumes remain constant in election years, so investment strategies should also remain constant.


Jimmy Hinton


Morning Panel Sessions

Following Jimmy's market outlook, panel session offerings included the topics of opportunity zones and capital markets. Duane Lund, CEO of NAI Legacy,  Will Murphy, Managing Partner at CEDARst Companies and Mark Stern, Managing Partner at Cresset Partners,  participated in “The New O-Zone Layer: Opportunity Zones and Their Impact on CRE” panel, which was moderated by Brian Davis, Partner at Mayer Brown LLP. This panel discussed the use of Opportunity Zones that were added to the tax code in late 2017.  While development decisions are not necessarily based on Opportunity Zones, panel members did share that they have benefitted from having developed in locations where opportunity zones are present. Additionally, they discussed the advantage of layering Opportunity Zones on top of their pre-existing business models.


The second panel of the day, “Capital Providers: What Inning are We In?” was moderated by Alexis Block of J.P. Morgan Chase, with Barrie Bloom, Senior Vice President at GEM Realty Properties, Karen Case, President, US Commercial Real Estate at CIBC, Chris Kosonen, Managing Director at J.P. Morgan and Collin McKenna, Vice President of Acquisitions at Golub & Company.  The panel examined numerous perspectives on where we currently are in the economic cycle and whether caution or optimism should prevail in strategies, moving into the next year.


Austan Goolsbee


Lunch Program

During the luncheon program, Graaskamp Center Director Mark Eppli and Associate Director Greg Reed updated attendees on new initiatives in the real estate program and shared that the program is more popular than ever, with over 500 undergraduate students currently enrolled. Eppli also honored a key figure in the alumni community, Jim Curtis, who passed away in June, following his battle with ALS. He shared that plans are underway for a formal memorial to Jim during the 2020 Biennial Reunion. Guest speaker Austan Goolsbee, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, shared his own economic outlook with the lunch audience drawing from insights gained during his tenure as Former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under the Obama Administration. 


Afternoon Panel Sessions

Following lunch, attendees took part in two additional panels on innovative investing and late cycle investing.  An informative discussion with the panel “Innovative Trends for Today’s Real Estate Investor” was moderated by Daniel Sherman, from outlier Realty Capital. The panel featured Alex Antolino, Development, Brookfield Properties Mixed-Use Division, Michael Majestic, Partner at Willard Retail and Britt Zaffir, CEO of Kin. Panel members discussed the development of office, housing and retail spaces, emphasizing the importance of offering amenities in each of those sectors. Current trends in the retail sector include provisions for apartment living, creative workplaces, entertainment, and bars and restaurants. Office sector offerings were cited that included fitness rooms, outdoor spaces, tenant amenity lounges and conference centers while the housing sector offerings focus on utilizing common spaces for programming, meeting the needs for young urban families.


The last panel of the day was on Late Cycle Investing with Timothy Ellsworth, Managing Director and Head of Real Estate Transactions for the Americas. RREEF Management LLC, Mary Ludgin, Senior Managing Director and Director of Global Investment Research, Heitman,  Laurie Smith, CIO, Blue Vista Capital Management, LLC and Eteri Zaslavsky who is a Managing Director at Next Realty Capital.  Moderated by Matthew Lawton, who is an Executive Managing Director at JLL Capital Markets, this panel focused on the trends and opportunities that are best for US investors to consider given the current expanding economy. One aspect of the discussion debated the outlook for investing in retail and industrial properties.  Across the panel, speaker opinions varied on whether a solid investment strategy should lean heavily on the retail sector.  Among some, there is still considerable optimism in the retail market as online retailers invest in brick and mortar stores. It was the industrial sector that was viewed as one of the most attractive products. Attendees ended the day with a better understanding of the pros and cons of each product. 

Mark your calendars and be on the lookout for more information about the 2020 Biennial Wisconsin Real Estate Conference, which will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on September 10-1, 2020.

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