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Guest Lecture - Enrique Peñalosa

How Cities Build Legitimacy

How Social Perception Determines Social Progress

Friday, April 21, 2023
Enrique Peñalosa

“Legitimacy is a very peculiar concept,” began Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, and the final guest speaker for the Spring 2023 MRED+U Lecture Series. “If there is legitimacy, people support the system. But we have a few tendencies that impact this concept.” He then reviewed social trends such as smaller households, smaller homes, people working from more places than just offices and downtown districts, decreasing populations in certain regions, and more priority placed on leisure time.” Our cities are increasingly becoming extensions of our homes, he observed. At the same time, he noted, our societies are getting smaller. 

“Just take fertility rates as an example,” he said. “The average woman needs to have 2.1 children in her lifetime for a population size to remain stable.” And while the perception is that Latin Americans have large families of multiple children, there are only three countries in the region where the average children per household is greater than 2.1 - and Colombia, in fact, has a lower fertility rate than Denmark or France. “We will be competing to attract more people as we go forward.” Yet, in many countries, and even within cities in the U.S. the best and brightest young people leave and go elsewhere. It’s an excellent problem to have for a city on the rise, but it also means those cities are now tasked with the responsibility of not only attracting, but also retaining those people.” 

As cities figure more prominently in everyday life, the question of Legitimacy then becomes how cities serve all cities with equality. Peñalosa says it is vital for cities to create places that everyone wants to enjoy - not simply can enjoy - but have a desire to be in that specific place. Central Park in New York City, is one such place, he explains. Young, old, rich, poor, all walks of life in society enjoy the park and it is not reserved for one population or another. Likewise, effective public transportation that adds convenience, goes where people need to go, and is well maintained is another way cities can promote legitimacy. But how do cities achieve this? Peñalosa offered an idea. “If all citizens are equal before the law, then public good should prevail over private interest.” This can be so powerful that it extends to eminent domain in favor of  a hospital or airport. “We cannot give people enough material goods to make everyone equal, but we can make sure everyone has excellent schools, parks, cultural centers, and sports facilities.” 

Peñalosa also explained that perception works against legitimacy in other ways. To illustrate this point, he spoke about the concept of housing subsidies aimed at giving the poor better access to housing. On the surface, it seems like the ideal solution to keep the real estate market open and available to everyone, but in practice, it often drives up demand, which then drives up prices, thus rendering the subsidies less effective. Instead, as Peñalosa spearheaded in Bogota, affordably priced housing ensures a locked-in entry point for those who need housing near city facilities, business, and entertainment centers. But even this, is not a perfect solution. Hence where New Urbanism comes in.

“Can we give people in the suburbs the same benefits of what people like about high-density downtown areas?” Peñalosa asked. “What if we demolish the inner suburbs in favor of higher density buildings? It still requires a methodical approach - because house-by-house redevelopment doesn’t allow for urban design that includes expanded public space. Again, if we want legitimacy we cannot simply serve private real estate development interests.” In Bogota, a parcel amounting to more than 70 hectares was taken over by the city, and rebuilt into a huge public space, transforming one of the most crime-ridden portions of the city into an activated space just blocks from the city center and the Presidential Palace. 

Likewise, Peñalosa offered progressive solutions to traffic - and showcased Bogota’s bus-based public transportation system that can move as much as 80 times more people than a single car - and it costs a fraction of what subways and rail costs to implement. “Once again, if all persons are equal, then a bus with 100 people has the right to 100 times more space than a single vehicle.” As such, buses in Bogota now travel on a dedicated busway outside of highway and roadway traffic, allowing those who take public transportation to now actually benefit from using the bus system rather than adding to traffic. Green space, waterfronts, sidewalks, these are all elements that some take for granted but that truly should belong to everyone according to Peñalosa. “How a city makes things better for all its citizens is the standard we need to embrace going forward.”

Guest Lecture - Don Peebles

The Power of Partnership

A Look at the Past, Present, and Future of Public-Private Real Estate Development

Friday, April 7, 2023

Don PeeblesAs an industry, real estate is a journey as opposed to a destination. It evolves and changes over time. It moves in cycles. At times, it completely breaks off in a new direction. However, real estate always remains connected to a few essential principles - such as where people live, work, learn, raise families, and enjoy their surroundings. According to Don Peebles, it is in understanding and appreciating how those principles apply to diverse locations, communities, and generations that certain developers become recognized leaders in the field.

Such has been the case for The Peebles Corporation, which Don Peebles founded in 1983. Since that time, the firm has earned repeated praise for its success across all real estate verticals, but particularly for public-private partnerships. 

“The biggest risk in development is owning land and not being able to actually develop it and have to carry the costs of that land,” Peebles offered. “Those are the sites that end up in foreclosure.” He laid out an example of a property purchased by a business associate that purchased a parcel of land in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. At the time, the property had an initial sales price of $1 billion. With debt service, property, and insurance, the property had carrying costs of approximately 20% per year. In the two and a half years it took this one investor to actually break ground, the property had now cost nearly $1.5 billion with nothing built on the property. Peebles then demonstrated why the public-private partnership is such a desirable alternative to this kind of scenario. 

“One - there would be no carrying costs,” he explained. “There would be no property taxes, no insurance, nothing, because you wouldn’t close on the property until after construction was complete. [Additionally], the price would be fixed beforehand, and [our firm] generally aims for 40% below market value.” For the same parcel of land, a public-private partnership investment would be around $600 million - an almost $1 billion advantage from day one. Peebles also discussed additional advantages like flexibility to adapt and respond to economic changes. Where the private-sector developer must accept fluctuating interest rates or increased building and materials costs, the public-private partnership can re-examine the project as it progresses - adding resources, bringing in additional partners or sources of capital, or making changes to the plan to suit current or future conditions. 

The trade-off, of course, is that public stakeholders like governments or municipal agencies are not interested in the maximum dollar value, but rather the maximum social value. “With governments we have to be inclusive. The aim may be to include more women entrepreneurs and women business owners as part of a project, for example,” he said. 

Peebles’ experience working alongside government officials has been key to his success in public-private partnerships. He was a congressional page throughout the majority of his high school career, growing up in Washington, D.C. and his mother, who was the sole breadwinner for her family, had been working as a real estate agent since he was around eight years old. As a black family in the heart of the country’s government during the civil rights movement, Peebles’ mother insisted he get involved volunteering in politics. After initially pursuing a career in medicine, Peebles took up the family business, working alongside his mother at first, and then later as part of various real estate boards for the city Mayor, HUD, and other agencies.

Most notably, of course, Peebles became a prominent fundraiser and supporter for presidential candidates - first for Bill Clinton when he was still governor of Arkansas, then for Barack Obama when he was a senator for Illinois. Throughout all of his interactions in business, politics, and his personal life, Peebles remained focused on lessons learned in the past. “When I was younger in the 1970s, interest rates on buying a home were nearly 20%,” he shared. That fundamentally changes the way the real estate market behaves, he explained. Fast forward to the 1990s and early 2000s, where Peebles continued to make fair deals for interested parties involved in hospitality development, in residential condos, and in ambitious mixed-use properties. He also shared his own mistakes - such as multiple partnerships with individual investors (as opposed to institutional investors) which did not live up to expectations and negatively impacted returns. “Now? I don’t do business with individual investors. It’s a lesson - an expensive lesson - I’ve learned.” 

An open Q&A portion of the discussion allowed Peebles to share the unique insights of the Peebles Corporation’s public-private development highlights - such as Angels Landing in Los Angeles, CA; as well as the Bath Club and Royal Palm Hotel on Miami Beach, FL. “No two opportunities are going to be exactly alike. You have to be able to speak honestly and knowledgeably with the people involved if you want things to get done, and get done right,” he said. Ultimately, long-term success is a direct reflection of one’s ability to create, nurture, and sustain relationships. 

Guest Lecture - Jim Heid

Building Small

Rethinking the Residential and Commercial Development Paradigm

Friday, March 31, 2023

Jim HeidFor the past few decades, architecture and development has moved increasingly towards large-scale, master-planned projects executed by corporate and institutional development firms. Jim Heid’s guest lecture focused on the motivators behind that trend, and why it is so important for the industry to seek balance on the other side of the scale. Heid is the founder of CRAFT Development, and author of Building Small - A Toolkit for Real Estate Entrepreneurs, Civic Leaders, and Great Communities. 

He began by explaining that the ever-tightening regulatory environment has made it challenging and arduous for developers of all sizes, and that the only firms equipped to weather the process are those with enough capital to wait multiple years to get approvals. The unfortunate side effect of this process is that those select developers are now eager to make the absolute highest return on investment so that it can fund the wait times for additional large projects. It makes perfect sense from a business standpoint, but not necessarily at the community and neighborhood levels. “Highest and best use is a term we love to use in the industry,” said Heid, quoting Pacific-coast developer Kevin Kavanaugh, “but highest and best use for who?” 

“The real opportunity for people interested in changing the built environment and getting involved in their communities and making a difference is small and incremental development built through an entrepreneurial and bootstrapped approach,” he explained. In pursuit of that goal, Heid established the Small Scale Development Forum, which brings together developers and stakeholders who share in the promise of human-scale real estate projects. First convened in 2012, the forum meets annually in different cities across the United States to allow like-minded visionaries to showcase projects, plans, and explore opportunities together. 

Heid then took a moment to clearly define the difference between small in stature and small in concept - the central idea behind Building Small. “We’re not simply talking about tiny houses and small buildings,” he said. “It’s small-scale developments built on single lots of single block scapes, with an incremental mindset.” The benefits of this approach is that it not only allows developers to maintain the character of a neighborhood, but also to serve and underserved section of the market, while also dramatically reducing the risk typically associated with mega projects. 

It’s not necessarily easier, Heid said. Both adaptive re-use and ground-up projects must hold themselves to the art of building from a more involved, hands-on perspective. “It’s also not about budget, a single kind of project, philanthropy, or a temporary or transitional direction.” Instead, he explained “small” is a methodology, asking what the ecosystem of users and places need from each other. 

The class explored a number of thoughtfully executed projects - including a car repair garage transformed into a neighborhood bistro and lawn space, a Charleston-based beer hall, and Seattle’s Chophouse Row district. The discussion of development intensity figured prominently in this visual tour. “What is remarkable about small development is that it is almost universally ‘transect agnostic’ and that it works well wherever you want to place it,” shared Heid. “In urban centers, rural communities, infill in established areas, expansion to new towns or cities, there’s almost always a space for small development. It’s also one of the most catalytic tools for redeveloping suburban corridors.” 

Additional case studies in Phoenix, Arizona; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Healdsberg, CA; highlighted how each small development has its own standard of success. In some cases, it spurs on new local investment from shop owners and independent restaurateurs. In others, it’s a return to downtown-centric residential living. Still others may revitalize a historic town or village and maintain character and quality of life for generations to come. 

Such was the case when comparing cities like Savannah, GA with newer metro areas such as Irvine, CA. Small building allows for adaptability on existing plots without massive changes to the streetscape as would be needed in a master-planned area. Professor Troen added another benefit to fine-grain destinations, in which value per square foot and acreage is actually increased by having more density to buildings with multiple purposes. Heid expanded on that idea, saying, “There’s a unique opportunity in small building that lies in the comparative low cost of entry. However, when these properties do become catalysts in their neighborhoods, small developers can get shut out by larger firms wishing to capitalize on that success. The lesson is when you’re looking to generate value for the development as well as the neighborhood around it, option up. Option additional land in the area so you can capture the value you’re creating for yourself.” 

The class also discussed how small building is connected to authenticity and economic strength and stability. According to numerous studies and surveys, “small” is inherently more flexible and desirable across nearly every market sector. Residents ultimately want to be part of the community fabric, meaning that they want to be able to open a restaurant, gather with friends and loved ones, and have real estate they can own so they can build wealth. Large and mega-scale developments often create significant financial barriers for local residents, but small-scale can rearrange components to solve individual needs and challenges. As an example, Heid shared CRAFT’s Kennedy Lane project - which brought small-scale housing to a community that needed it - without re-zoning and with unique solutions for detached garages, a solar installation, and a shared neighborhood green. 

“There’s a reason why small development works,” Heid said, “it’s because they feel real and accessible in a way that’s more interesting than maximized square footage or identical designs. It’s the kind of thing that makes people pause, think, reflect, and engage.” He closed by encouraging tomorrow’s real estate professionals to embrace the ideas and tenets of small building even when building larger projects - looking for ways to maximize social equity alongside profitability - so that everyone, developer and community alike can win big. 

Guest Lecture - Kona Gray

Design Matters: Shaping the Future of the Planet

Examining the Next Frontier of Placemaking by Focusing on Purpose

Friday, March 24, 2023
Kona Grey

“You have to understand the ‘why’ of what you do.” This was the pivotal concept conveyed by EDSA principal and industry-leading design professional, Kona Gray, during his guest lecture. He explained the phrase is actually a call to action; one that is critical if architects, land planners, and others in the real estate realm are to answer the growing needs of an entire global society. 

He then shared how the design and development decisions of the past have led to the circumstances of today. Negative decisions, such as pollution, urban sprawl, and disconnection from nature and culture are the reasons why design professionals must now focus on remedying those damaged spaces while also ensuring that their work respects and nurtures environments and people. Examples like The High Line in New York City, Wynwood Walls, and the Etereo Auberge Resort in Mexico demonstrated how successful design not only improves previously undesirable or underutilized spaces, but also brings new value to the entire surrounding area.

Likewise, positive choices like communities that integrate multiple aspects of life into a single place must be continued, Gray said, if designers are to take “development done right” to its next level. Historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee and the tight-knit villages and townships of Europe are living testaments to how people can live, work, relax, and enjoy all that life has to offer within a single destination. “It’s an idea we’re continuing to get back to,” he offered, and shared plans for the upcoming FAT Village in Fort Lauderdale, a transit-oriented multi-use development that combines residential, office, retail/entertainment, and outdoor space into a rich community mosaic.

Gray also highlighted that, “The land was here first… without the land you have nothing… so be thoughtful and careful in what you choose to do with it.” Efforts like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, The New Green Deal, and the American Society of Landscape Architects’ Climate Action Plan are already setting new standards for protecting real estate’s most valuable asset. It will be up to the next generation of professionals to make it happen. To that end, Gray reminded students and attendees that progress never happens alone, and that collaboration is vital to creating the best-possible results. “At the end of the day, you’re designing more than a space or a building,” he said. “You’re creating places for people to live… for local businesses to grow… opportunities for people to make money and reinvest in their communities. That’s all the kind of connection that happens in between the buildings, and that’s something that matters. You’re creating a plan for people.”

In class RED660 guest lecture, Don Peebles, Peebles Corp – all students are welcome.

April 2023

Related meeting students on campus (MHBS) - Graduate Real Estate Club E-Board

April 2023

Danielle Mora and Jordan Bargas from Related, will be on campus to meet with students and discuss their expansion plans in Miami. Lunch will be served, and you can register for the event using the link provided below.
Additionally, On Tuesday, we MAY have a similar visit with folks from the commercial real estate side of EQT/Exeter. The CRE is Exeter, it is a cool $30 Billion under management, and they do amazingly cool sustainable projects all over the world, and they are opening an office in Miami! EQT is based in Stockholm, they do sustainable infrastructure of all sorts.

MRED+U Site Visit, The Thompson Hotel (South Beach) with Board member Ron Finvarb

March 2023

IN Class RED660 guest lecture Jim Heid, FASLA (CRAFT DnA)

March 2023


HINES Competition Celebration

March 2023

Now that the Hines jury made its decisions, we would like to gather all our UM teams and faculty in recognition of your hard work. You made it through the challenging weeks to produce excellent results and we invite you to see the work of all the teams and celebrate with us on March 28 at 5PM in the Murphy Studio courtyard.
Team members, we have print cards available upon request in the MRED+U office so that you can print your submissions and bring them to the MRED+U office by March 27.


March 2023

Site Visit: Bal Harbor  

March 2023

OSHA dress requirements of hard sole, close toe shoes with long pants are required. We will provide hard hats and vests. 

Seaside Prize Weekend

February 2023

The Seaside Prize is awarded annually by The Seaside Institute to individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the quality and character of their communities and are considered leaders of contemporary urban development and education. The recipients of the Prize have had a major influence on how our towns and cities can best be built and rebuilt to reflect and promote diversity, walkability, beauty, and sustainability.  The 2023 Seaside Prize winner is Distinguished Research Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA, Donald Shoup:  The Speaker Lineup this year is as follows:  
Schedule: The weekend kicks off on Friday, February 24th with registration and an open reception beginning at 5PM at The Court in Seaside, FL. with food provided by Black Bear Bread Company and will follow with a Keynote address by Rick Cole, the former Executive Director of CNU (Congress for New Urbanism). On Saturday, February 25th - full day planned beginning with breakfast, a tour of Seaside FL, followed by the AM Symposium. After a break for lunch - afternoon Symposium. Award ceremony which will take place in the Seaside Chapel at 6:15PM followed by a GALA Dinner at Bud & Ally’s Waterfront Dining.  The weekend will conclude with an architectural and town tour in Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach on Sunday to be wrapped up by 12:30PM

REImpact Conference

February 2023

Guest Lecture in class Simon Ziff

January 2023

Biscayne 2000 Site Visit

January 2023

The MRED+U program offers guest lectures as part of the Urban Redevelopment course. Our guest lecturers are members of our Advisory Board as well as other real estate leaders prominent in our community. The speakers enhance the already multi-faceted weekly curriculum by drawing upon their experiences with past and current real estate projects. This direct tie-in with the curriculum serves to reinforce the practicality of the academic concept with live examples of how the concepts are put into place. Not only does this provide a unique and personalized learning opportunity for our students but it also offers our students a chance to build their network with real estate leaders so they are better equipped to interview and apply for internship and full-time positions during and after the MRED+U program.