Tag Archives: ULI

ULI Arizona District Council announces advisory board members

The Urban Land Institute Arizona District Council (ULI) announced the following land use and real estate development industry leaders as new members of the ULI Arizona District Council Advisory Board:

Rick Collins                                                        Jordan R. Rose

President/Southwest                                              Founder/Attorney

Ryan Companies US, Inc.                                     Rose Law Group

Michael Martin                                                 Stanton A. Shafer

Director of Economic Development                    Chief Operating Officer

Arizona Public Service                                        Holualoa Companies

Lorenzo Perez

Principal & Co-Founder

Venue Projects, LLC

The ULI Advisory Board is comprised of key District Council leaders, public and private sector community leaders, and other active ULI members who have a deep understanding of the mission and priorities of ULI. The Board sets the global priorities for activities and initiatives at the local level. These dedicated individuals give freely of their time, talent, and expertise and contribute to ULI in meaningful and powerful ways. The mission of the Urban Land Institute is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.

The Urban Land Institute is a 501[c][3] nonprofit research and education organization supported by its members. Founded in 1936, the Institute now has members in 95 countries worldwide, representing the entire spectrum of land use and real estate development disciplines working in private enterprise and public service. As the preeminent multidisciplinary land use and real estate forum, ULI facilitates an open exchange of ideas, information, and experience among local, national, and international industry leaders and policy makers dedicated to creating better places.

The ULI Arizona District Council was formed in the early 1990s, as a direct response to the need for educational forums and events at a local level. ULI Arizona is a statewide convener for dialogs among change-agents and industry leaders in providing an unbiased and non-partisan exchange of ideas relevant to Arizona communities. ULI Arizona boasts nearly one thousand members, and has one of the highest member participation rates of any ULI District Council.

Trends Day Presentations and A Decade of Trends Video

ULI Arizona Trends Day,  Wednesday, January 28, was a one-day deep dive bringing together 25+ top industry experts to discuss the most current state and national real estate trends, with a focus on what to expect in the future, where the best opportunities can be found, and how these components affect both public and private sector partners. Trends Day is a “state of the state” conference with more than 900 attendees. This year marked the 10th annual Trends Day for ULI Arizona.


Trends Day Presentations and A Decade of Trends Video
All Trends Day presentations have been uploaded to the Resources section of the ULI Arizona website.  To access them along with the A Decade of Trends Days commemorative video, please use this link:  Trends Day 2015 Presentations and A Decade of Trends Video.


road trip

ULI’s partnership forum for young leaders

Some professional organizations have the foresight to funnel resources into mentoring young leaders for the sake of grooming the next generation of their respective industry as well as securing future involvement in the organization. According to ULI Arizona members, few organizations do it as well as the Partnership Forum. ULI Arizona’s Partnership Forum pairs a mentor with about 10 professionals under the age of 35 and is one of the highly touted programs of its kind in the Valley with more than 120 participants.

Mentors commit three years to the program, receiving a new “class” of professionals each of those years. The young professionals, led by a group leader charged with coordinating meetings and project tours, meet at the beginning of the year to discuss industry and career issues they’d like to address. Monthly meetings and the program is largely led by each group’s collective goals.

Brian Rosella, vice president of Land Services at Cassidy Turley, has co-chaired ULI Arizona’s Partnership Forum for eight years. Speaking from personal experience, he refers to the program as the “jewel” for ULI and leadership in other facets of the organization. Since joining ULI and the Partnership Forum, he has traveled all over the country and to Canada for ULI-related meetings.

“I think it fills the need for young professionals in the land use and real estate industry who don’t have a mechanism or person in their organization who will give them training or mentorship, formally or informally,” says Rosella.

“The ULI Partnership Forum is the real deal, the mentors commit to really being there 24/7 for these younger leaders,” says Jordan Rose, the president and founder of Rose Law Group, who is in her second year of mentoring. She compares the program to Young Presidents’ Organization, calling it “the most successful peer leadership program in the world.”

“Arizona is the capital of real estate development and there are so many paths a hard-charging bright person can take to success,” Rose says. “The mentorship program gives these emerging superstars the chance to really vet the various options that present themselves in a totally confidential setting with both the mentor and their peers, which leads to life-changing and, I hope, good decision making.”

Rose says the groups become close during their monthly meetings. Mentees in her group changed jobs, got married and had kids. When it came time for Rose to purchase the office building that houses her law firm, she hired one of her mentees, a financial analyst, to aid in the process. Rosella, too, has been mentored by clients, such as Everest Holding’s Joe Blackbourn and Paradigm Private Equity Holdings’ Steve LaTerra.

“I was also surprised by how open and honest my groups have been and how long-lasting friendships and business associations can be formed sometimes by and between competitors,” notes third-year mentor and Steve LaTerra.

As tends to be the case, the distinction between student and teacher can be a two-way street.

“Every year, I learn as much as the members, or more,” says DMB President and Partnership Forum mentor Charley Freericks. “The other benefit for me is the connection to our next generation of leaders. They are learning to work in a much different environment than the world that we grew up in and it’s an opportunity for me to learn about the tools they are using to be successful.”

Reflecting on one of the more surprising moments during his tenure as a mentor, Freericks says, “One of my favorites was when we had a group of Baby Boomers to the group and we had a great discussion on work ethics, habits, definitions of success, etc. It was the first time I saw the generational divide live.”

“I was thoroughly inspired by so many of the mentees’ drive to excellence,” says Rose. “Watching that reminded me that each day I can do better than the day before.”

Walton Development and Management Planning and Development Manager, Todd Severson, a second-year mentee and group leader, says the willingness of mentors to share their failings as openly as their successes has been surprising.

“Many elements of real estate cannot be taught in a classroom, but are better learned through life experience,” says Severson, adding later, “[Mentors’ ups and downs of their personal careers and real estate ventures] are a reminder to us young professionals that a career is built out of successes and failures, giving us confidence to pursue all aspects of real estate.”

Jim Belfiore still gets goosebumps when he describes ULI Arizona's UrbanPlan to his peers.

ULI brings urban planning to Phoenix high schoolers

Jim Belfiore, CEO and President of Belfiore Real Estate Consulting, has spent nearly a decade volunteering to help high school students enrolled in economics classes understand the nuances of urban planning and development. In schools where UrbanPlan has been offered, enrollment in the class has “skyrocketed,” he says.

Of ULI’s 52 district councils, 15 have UrbanPlan programs. With the exception of a few councils with higher education partnerships, UrbanPlan is exclusively offered in high school curricula. Schools that offer the UrbanPlan program in their economics classes are Desert Vista and, most recently, Brophy Prep.

To put the impact into perspective, Desert Vista High School instructor Shannon Corcoran teaches the UrbanPlan curriculum to 250 students every semester. During the program, students work with classmates to create a redevelopment plan in response to an RFP and receive live feedback from a mock city council comprised of industry experts, such as Brett Heron, executive vice president of finance at RED Development. Heron is a seven-year volunteer.

“Growing up, none of my friends or family were in real estate, so I didn’t have much exposure to it,” he says. “I became interested when I took a class in college.”

He says a program like UrbanPlan would have given him a better idea of different real estate disciplines and may have allowed him to focus more deeply on those areas during college.

“We continually receive feedback from the hundreds of Arizona students who have taken the program,” says Belfiore. “UrbanPlan changes their perception of the community they live in, increases their confidence, gets them involved in real estate and their communities, and many have told us the program was ‘the’ single-most valuable experience they have had in their years within the educational system.” ULI selects schools that have reputations for being high performing, says Jeff Mongan, senior vice president of The Athens Group, who has been with the program since it started and currently chairs the UrbanPlan Committee.

“This interaction provides the future leaders of our community an opportunity to gain a better understanding that high quality sustainable economic development and the built environment don’t happen by accident,” says Mongan. “Instead, it requires a team working together, collaborating with the local community to achieve a win-win result and enhance the community they live in.”

Last year, Mongan received a letter from a college graduate who had participated in UrbanPlan six years earlier.

“He mentioned that participating in UrbanPlan … had a transformational effect on his thinking about his future and that it was foundational in terms of preparing him for the challenges of college and his ultimate career choice. That was special,” he says.

Shannon Corcoran, an economics instructor at Desert Vista High School, gets to hear about the program’s effect first-hand. She has seen students take what they learn in her class to careers in economics, marketing and business. Some have gone on to become city planners, involved in real estate, sales and design, she adds.

“I always tell my students UrbanPlan is the best practice for an interview they will ever have,” she says, adding, “Whether or not they end up in the field as a land use professional, they still have a greater understanding and willingness to participate in decisions within their own communities that impact land use decisions around them.”

Like Belfiore, Corcoran also gets goosebumps talking about UrbanPlan.

“One [moment] in particular was when I had a student who had no real plan for the future say to me … I love this and I want to do this for my job,” she says. “That student is now at ASU getting a master’s in real estate development.”

Podcast: GoVote Aims To Change Voter Turn Out

Deb Sydenham: An agent of change


Deb Syndeham

Deb Sydenham joined ULI Arizona as executive director in September 2010 after nearly 20 years with the State of Arizona and nine years in the private sector. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and a member of the College of Fellows for the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP). In 2012, she was named as one of the 25 Most Admired CEOs in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area and in 2014 was included in the inaugural group of the 20 Most Influential Women in commercial real estate. Her experience with local, regional and state governments and tribal communities serves as a solid foundation to moving the ULI mission forward.

Trends Day in Arizona will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this year. What is your fondest memory?

As a ULI member, I attended a number of Trends Days and was continually amazed by the substantive content brought forth. As executive director, I have the incredible opportunity to work alongside vastly talented member volunteers in developing the Trends Day program … ULI Arizona’s Trends Committee is invitation-only and represents a cross-section of land use and real estate interests. The overwhelming success of Trends Day 2014 posed an interesting challenge to the group: How do we top Trends 2014, deemed by all to have been the best Trends Day ever? You’ll have to join us on Jan. 28, as I have no doubt that the compelling program developed by this team is going to do just that!

What role will ULI take in solving one of the most important issues facing Arizona’s land use in 2015?

It is clear we are surrounded by wholesale change. Several critical issues headline this change, but one in particular is far-reaching — infrastructure. Infrastructure can be defined in a variety of ways – transportation, technology, utility, social, and so on – and leadership and implementation of new infrastructure frameworks can reposition communities not only from a competitive standpoint, but also how they enhance the quality of life for residents … This vast infrastructure conundrum must be addressed and executed in the context of a multi-generational marketplace and changing demographic scenarios. ULI’s legacy is rooted in the sharing of best practices. The institute is widelyacclaimed as a neutral convener and safe haven where individuals engage in dialogue, analysis, and debate to review market trends, best practices and future challenges faced by communities globally. Facilitating collaborative conversations that result in teamwork and strategic action is a cornerstone of ULI Arizona and one of the spaces in which we continue to be most effective. The ULI Arizona Community Initiatives Committee … has been exploring the unique facets and nuances of infrastructure within the Phoenix Metropolitan region … There are no quick fixes to issues of this magnitude. Patience and deliberate action will enable business and community leaders to craft insightful and future-oriented strategies to forge better places. ULI will be the organization convening the conversation where this transformation takes place.

How is ULI sharing best practices between public and private sectors?

After decades of what felt like infinite resources, we now face a mind set of shortages – especially financial ones. In the world of land use and real estate investment, the continual challenge is to understand new trends, capitalize on new market opportunities and direct investment funds in strategic ways. Local governments and development interests are seeking ways to embrace flexibility – in regulatory environments, floor plates, target market demographics and location … A strong public-private partnership goes well beyond the financial considerations of leveraging resources. This partnership must also involve open communication and collaboration – both of which are essential in today’s economy … Communities statewide have reached out to ULI as a partner in convening meaningful dialogue and seeking solutions to local land use and development challenges … ULI Arizona’s member and institute resources are positioned to navigate the transformational momentum being experienced throughout the Valley and form the partnerships that are a prerequisite for progress.

What’s a development issue you’d like to see discussed more in 2015?

Leadership. Catalyzing the changes necessary to create vibrant and resilient communities is not for the weak at heart, especially as we continue to forge through uncertain markets

ULI Arizona Shark Tank Flyer art

ULI seeking real estate proposals for ‘Shark Tank’ event

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Arizona District Council is seeking proposals from local real estate entrepreneurs to showcase and pitch their projects at the popular ULI Shark Tank event.  Real money and expert deal making advice is at stake for successful candidates with real estate development experience, an active and interesting deal to discuss, and the ability to make a concise and captivating presentation.


All proposals will be evaluated by a panel of ‘sharks’ including Steven J. Hilton, Meritage Homes Corporation; F. Francis Najafi, Pivotal Group; and Robert Sarver, Western Alliance Bancorporation.  C. Joseph Blackbourn, Everest Holdings, will be the moderator.


The top proposals will be selected as the feature presentations at the November 5 event held at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale.  Presenters will gain exposure to over 200 industry professionals, including a wide array of lenders, private investors, developers, architects, and others, providing both capital and expertise to help bring their project to fruition.


Deadline for Submittal:            September 30, 5 p.m.


Submit Proposals to:                 Carrie.Martin@ULI.org


Requirements:   – Biography and CV of the proposed presenter

– Summary-level outline of the investment request with project description, maps, etc.

– Cover letter expressing interest in participation in Shark Tank

– Finalists will participate in two to three planning conference calls with                                                         ULI staff and the Shark Tank event moderator


Benefits to Presenters:   – Constructive feedback from actual real estate icons

– A thorough vetting of all high-level project plans/assumptions

– Presentation experience and practice pitching your deal

– Immediate access to the knowledgeable ULI industry leaders

– Exposure to potential capital investors in the audience


More Information:              www.arizona.uli.org

ULI Stage, WEB

Spreading Prosperity: Innovation and Job Growth for Arizona’s Future

With the quality of panelists and speakers assembled for ULI Arizona District Council’s 9th annual Trends Day, the theme — “Spreading Prosperity” — was apropos.

Where else but at ULI’s Trends Day does an audience of almost 900 real estate and business leaders get to hear some of the industry’s top experts talk about spreading prosperity as it relates to innovation and job growth for Arizona’s future?

ULI Arizona District Council Chair Duke Reiter opened with remarks about this being a time of transformation. Trends Day Chair Tom Johnston said the day was all about best practices. Dr. Matthew Croucher, an economist with APS, offered his take Arizona’s economy – past present and future.

Lynn Thurber, ULI National Chairman and Patrick Phillips, ULI National CEO were both in attendance to discuss the connections between health and the built environment, and the opportunities to use real estate investments to help improve the health of people and create more thriving communities.

Panels included such Valley leaders as GPEC President Barry Broome, pro sports icon Jerry Colangelo, Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta, former Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe, Super Bowl XLIX Host Committee CEO Jay Parry, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and Chandler Economic Development Director Chris Mackay.

The keynote address, delivered by Alex Steffen, co-founder of Worldchanging, was an inspiring, yet provocative analysis of global trends – past, present and future.

Optimism ruled the day; a welcome change from years past.

By Peter Madrid, Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona, Inc.

David Knoll

David Knoll Joins Ryan Companies

Ryan Companies US, Inc. announced David Knoll has been hired as Director of Development in the SouthCentral Region. In his new position, David is responsible for leading the pursuit of development projects in Texas. Additional responsibilities include site selection and land acquisition, due diligence, municipal and approvals, design and construction coordination, marketing and leasing, and sale negotiation.

“David will be instrumental in the strategic growth of Ryan’s SouthCentral Region,” said Hunter Barrier, President of Ryan’s SouthCentral Region. “He brings a unique perspective to his new role due to his broad base experience in business approaches and we’re thrilled to have him on board.”

Prior to joining Ryan, David was Executive Director of the non-profit Urban Land Institute (ULI) – Austin District Council. David executed the vision of ULI – Austin and was successful in growing the membership from 265 to over 400 members during his tenure. He is known for his strong analytical and problem solving skills as well as his ability to manage complex projects.

“I’m extremely proud to work with such a talented group of professionals and I’m excited to take on the challenge of expanding Ryan’s presence in Texas,” said Knoll.

David received a Bachelor of Arts in Civil Engineering from Dartmouth College and a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the American Planning Association (APA).


ULI Seeking Proposals for Inaugural Shark Tank Event

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Arizona is seeking proposals from local real estate entrepreneurs to showcase and pitch their projects at the first annual Shark Tank event. Successful candidates will have real estate development experience, an active and interesting deal to discuss and the ability to make a concise and captivating presentation.

All proposals will be evaluated by a panel of ‘sharks’ including; Daryl Burton, Presson Corporation, I. Michael Kasser, Holualoa Companies and Craig Krumwiede, Harvard Investments and moderated by C. Joeseph Blackbourn, Everest Holdings.

The top proposals will be selected as the feature presentations at the November 20th event held at the Montelucia Resort in Paradise Valley. Presenters will gain exposure to over 200 industry professionals, including a wide array of lenders, private investors, developers, architects, and others, providing both capital and expertise to help bring their project to fruition.


Deadline for Submittal: October 25, 2013, 5:00 pm


Submit Proposals to: Carrie.Martin@ULI.org


Requirements: – Biography and CV of the proposed presenter

– Summary-level outline of the investment request with project description, maps, etc.

– Cover letter expressing interest in participation in Shark Tank

– Finalists will participate in 2 – 3 planning conference calls with ULI staff and the Shark Tank event moderator


Benefits to Presenters:Constructive feedback from actual real estate icons

– A thorough vetting of all high-level project plans/assumptions

– Presentation experience and practice pitching your deal

– Immediate access to the knowledgeable ULI industry leaders

– Exposure to potential capital investors in the audience


More Information: www.arizona.uli.org


ULI Receives $12,500 Grant For ‘Reinvent PHX’ Program

The Urban Land Institute of Arizona has received a $12,500 grant to strengthen development opportunities between the City of Phoenix, educational and medical institutions, and the surrounding community that could include infrastructure or real estate development, workforce training, local purchasing and tailored services to expand customer base in surrounding neighborhoods for the “Reinvent PHX,” effort.

ULI’s ongoing involvement with “Reinvent PHX,” unites decision-makers in one-on-one or small group settings surrounding public-private partnership strategies for community revitalization and “shared-value” community investment options.

“We are thrilled to receive the grant to aid the City’s Reinvent PHX, it validates the work completed to date and provides new opportunities for implementation,” said Deb Sydenham, ULI Arizona’s Executive Director. “We look forward to using the money to create lasting partnerships that encourage positive community development.”

The expected outcome is a community-wide understanding of public-private opportunities between the City of Phoenix and anchor institutions. “Reinvent PHX” is targeting key decision-makers representing Gateway Community College, Arizona State University, St. Joseph’s Hospital, University of Phoenix and many others.

In addition, the ULI Arizona District Council will lead a series of ongoing expert facilitated forum(s) on public-private partnership opportunities. Discussions will surround district parking facilities, employee/student housing and real estate development to encourage strategic and mutually beneficial industry clusters.

The money received for the program will support ULI priorities such as considerable relevancy and focus on the “Creation of Resilient Communities,” and “Connecting Capital and the Built Environment Through Value,” goals.

Interested parties should contact Deb Sydenham, Executive Director, ULI Arizona (602-449-7921) to find out more about the grant ULI received or about “Reinvent PHX.” For more information on ULI Arizona visit www.arizona.uli.org.

Arizona Sunset - Future of West Valley

Valley Leaders Join Forces To Envision The Future West Valley

Leadership West LogoOver 100 Valley leaders convened on November 31, 2010 to develop a future vision for the West Valley in an exercise led by Leadership West.  Leadership West is a volunteer-led, non-profit organization that convenes, educates and activates proven leaders in business, non-profits and government to leverage their time, talents and treasures to enhance the quality of life in the West Valley.

Moving AZOne LogoThe “West Valley Reality Check” was free for its participants, thanks to the collaborative effort and partnership between Leadership West and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). The program’s goal was to bring together leaders in government, business, non-profits, environmentalists, educators, neighborhood activists, interfaith groups, tribal and elected officials to focus on a regional approach to shaping our built environment. The event was a continuation of Leadership West’s annual West Valley Summit which was held in March.

By 2050, the Central Arizona region will have an additional 6 million people and 3 million new jobs, many of which will be in the West Valley. This exercise presented the opportunity for Valley stakeholders to influence how the region plans land-use, transportation and infrastructure while sustaining our economy and quality of life.

Leadership West Executive Director, Kathy Knecht kicked off the event by describing the organization as a catalyst for long-term planning in the West Valley.  The Reality Check model was designed by ULI, but this event was the first time where such an exercise was conducted with West Valley stakeholders.  What emerged from the exercise was an overarching theme of municipal and regional cooperation that looks beyond the current economic cycle in preparation for the next wave.

Deb Sydenham introduced the Reality Check model as a great opportunity to work collaboratively and cooperatively to help regions with visioning at least 20 years into the future. Don Keuth presented Valley growth trends and how this exercise will help establish the framework for future growth. Interestingly enough, only about 10 cities across the country have performed this activity but Phoenix is the only city that has done it twice. ULI Arizona’s efforts over the past 3 years have resulted in the “Connected Centers” strategy that promotes growth and prosperity.  These exercises represent a forward-thinking approach to identify a sustainable regional growth scenario and by doing so determine housing types, responsible land uses and a transportation framework.

MapJay Hicks presented the ground rules for the placemaking exercise in which participants use Legos© that represent various levels of housing and employment density and strands of yarn that represent major transportation corridors to identify the region’s growth patterns.  Participants used these tools in their groups to establish a 40-year vision with the understanding of the West Valley’s opportunities and challenges, including jobs, transportation, Luke AFB, higher education and the environment.

By keeping an open mind, being bold and creative and working together to find solutions, the participant groups completed their visioning exercise while maintaining AZOne Reality Check’s guiding principles of preserving open space, supporting current infrastructure by growing along existing corridors, connecting employment and housing with multi-modal transportation, creating new urban centers and infilling currently developed areas, and locating housing near jobs.

The collective group discussed barriers and challenges that might hinder the implementation of these future scenarios as well as policy changes that would be necessary to making the scenarios possible. However, the group clearly identified a need for the West Valley to stay relevant in conversations about regional issues by working collaboratively and speaking as one voice.  Leadership West did not intend this exercise to be the end, but rather the next step in moving this initiative forward by carrying the message back to each respective organization.  The Reality Check exercise provided a forum for West Valley representatives to use regional visioning and planning and discuss how we can promote economic development, plan comprehensive infrastructure, preserve natural resources, create a sense of place in the community, and engage the community and create political will to implement these visions.  Our common goal…leadership.

Todd Holzer, NAIOP-AZ - AZRE Magazine September/October 2010

NAIOP-AZ Chairman Todd Holzer Provides Leadership At Crucial Time

After more than a quarter century in commercial real estate, Todd Holzer, chairman of NAIOP-AZ, has been witness to many industry ups and downs.

Holzer began his career with Opus Southwest in Phoenix and San Diego. After 12 years at Opus, he moved on to DeRito Partners, where he spent eight years developing retail projects. Now in his sixth year at Ryan Companies US Inc., specializing in office and industrial projects and overall marketing for its Southwest regional operation, Holzer says market conditions in Arizona make for some intriguing times.

“Two things that I find interesting about our local market: First, the volatility of the Metro Phoenix market has to be among the greatest of all major U.S. markets,” Holzer says. “It seems that in my career, the overall market conditions for office and industrial have either been on fire or in the dumps. There are days I wish we were a little more steady, like some other Ryan offices in the Midwest. The feast-or-famine scenario we have can be an emotional and economic roller coaster for those in the business.

“Secondly, and again unfortunately, I always think about what could have been a very cool, relevant Downtown Phoenix. Despite some good vision out of the City of Phoenix political leaders, we are still a metro area that has grown outward with sprawl. I wonder if true urbanism can happen here. Most people live here to take advantage of activities that are suburban in nature: golf, hiking and other outdoor activities that don’t occur in a downtown setting.”

Holzer takes the reins at NAIOP-AZ during rocky economic times, but he says he is up to the challenge. When he started at Opus, he joined NAIOP-AZ mainly for networking purposes.

“When I moved into retail development, I spent more time and energy in other organizations such as ICSC, Valley Partnership and ULI,” he says. “But when I came to Ryan with an office and industrial focus, I decided that I needed to get back into NAIOP and take on a leadership role.”

Holzer has been on NAIOP’s local board of directors for five years and on the national board for three. After about two years on the local board, he was asked to take on the time and challenge of training for his eventual role as chairman.

“I have served under a few visionary and hard-working chairmen that have given me the experience to run the local chapter in what are very challenging times,” he says.

Holzer is not one to dwell on the negative. Instead, he says focus should be put on the quality of projects being built today, including NAIOP-member LEED certification initiatives.

“I take my hat off to some developers in our market that build with quality and with vision,” he says. “RED Development building CityScape and SunCor building Hayden Ferry are great projects that went to a level that most developers would not go.

“In my opinion, there has not been an increase in the quality of office projects over the last 15 to 20 years. The granite exterior projects built in the ’80s and early ’90s have stood the test of time. Most developers don’t build true quality because they are building to the level requested by the tenant and user market, and tenant and user groups have been fixed upon cost rather than quality and amenities.

“On the other hand, industrial projects have been built in the last cycle to a much higher standard of function than in the past.”

Among those higher standards is building to LEED specifications and the move toward more energy-efficient projects. Nationally, Holzer says, NAIOP has become fully engaged in LEED initiatives by having educational events tied around the green movement, with the major event being an annual conference dedicated to energy-efficient development. Phoenix hosted the conference a few years ago.

“Locally, we are giving awards to the best energy efficient new development each year at our Best of NAIOP event,” he says.

Examples of recent projects, Holzer cites, are Liberty Property Trust and its Scottsdale building for Vanguard; Lincoln Property Company and the Arizona Game and Fish Department building; Ryan’s 3900 E. Camelback building; and Hines’ office building at 24th Street and Camelback. There also are numerous local municipal and higher-education projects that have been built to LEED standards.

For those in the commercial real estate industry preparing for the future, Holzer offers this advice:

“At the present time, our industry is going through a monumental change,” he says.

“Speculative development will not re-appear for approximately five years in the Valley, so new development will be way down and that side of the business will not be hiring. People and companies will need to reinvent themselves. Take your strengths and use them in different ways within our industry.

“We are still the fifth-largest city in the country and our role as a major place of commerce in the Western U.S. will continue to grow.”

Holzer predicts 2011 will be a sequel of 2009 and 2010; users and tenants are price sensitive and looking for deals.

“We are in a period where land, rents and construction costs are on sale,” he says. “Those with a long-term approach and sufficient funding can solve real estate needs at very attractive costs.”

Some of the biggest challenges Holzer sees in 2011 are lack of capital and nominal job growth. The industrial sector needs capital to be available to companies for expansion and purchasing of inventories and equipment, he says, and the office sector is tied to job creation.

“Unless we can get local and national job creation to pick up dramatically, high-vacancy rates and shadow space inventory will continue with us,” Holzer explains. “The main challenge facing most sectors of commercial real estate is the national political scene and the decisions coming out of Washington, D.C. There is too much uncertainty currently for small business owners to make real estate decisions.”

For more information about NAIOP-AZ and Todd Holzer, visit naiop-az.org.

AZRE Magazine September/October 2010

Tim Lawless, AZRE Magazine September/October 2010

Q&A with NAIOP-AZ President Tim Lawless

Q&A with NAIOP-AZ President Tim Lawless

Q: A year ago you cited several factors that needed to occur for the regional economy to get going again. Have those changes occurred and what impact have they made, if any, in regard to the outlook of local commercial real estate?

Last year, I said that four things needed to occur before we could get on our feet again as an industry. They were:

1) credit markets need to act more normally;

2) job losses need to stabilize;

3) the glut of housing inventory needs to be absorbed so folks can sell their homes in the Midwest and California and continue to migrate here; and

4) we need a more competitive state tax code and to enact policies that diversify the economy in order to attract the flight of capital and brainpower, especially from California.

The credit market is not yet normal. People are still hoarding cash and there is an expectation that hundreds of banks nationwide will still fail when they take further haircuts on distressed properties that have yet to move into the barber’s chair.

We have stabilized job losses, but the rebound is much slower than hoped and few think we will replace all the jobs lost even after 5 years in our state. Nationally, many of these jobs will never come back. They are in India and other countries.

Regarding the glut of homes available, we are seeing some activity that gives hope, but I wouldn’t “bet the house” on it recovering just yet.

And finally, we have done little to nothing regarding the tax code besides talk about privatizing a Department of Commerce and enacting a solar tax credit that only helps on the far periphery. If anything, we have gone backwards as business has had to absorb two major tax increases with the prospect of more coming.

Of the four things, the job losses and housing are the most improved, while we are still waiting for the brunt of commercial property foreclosures to move through the system. Once the foreclosure “pig” is digested in the “python,” the credit markets will be more normal. This digestion, however, is soon upon us, which becomes necessary for recovery.

The factor that holds the least optimism is the prospect of changing our uncompetitive business tax code, especially as it relates to high commercial property taxes. Perhaps this can only be accomplished in tandem with yet another tax increase as the political courage to further cut spending has waned.

The silver lining about all of this is that properties are fast becoming a bargain and a lot of cash on the sidelines may soon come in.

Using a baseball analogy, we are in the late innings regarding a residential property recovery, and perhaps only in the mid-innings regarding a commercial property recovery. What we all hope to avoid is the prospect of extra innings through a double dip.

Q: What are some of the new challenges you see facing the industry in 2011?

While it was anticipated that at least one major tax increase would occur (two in fact occurred, the reinstitution of the $250M per year state equalization property tax and the $1B per year sales tax increase) the prospect of multiple tax increases at either the federal, state or local levels is the new challenge.

The feds seem intent on taxing commercial partnerships more like ordinary income rather than the lower capital gains tax treatment, while the state’s structural budget deficit will be more than a billion dollars beyond 2014. The locals will also be eying ways to raise revenue, most likely via the property tax rates.

Multiple tax increases on small businesses that are tenants in our buildings and at financial risk will only result in more potential vacancies if not more rent concessions. Further tax burden increases will also harm our ability to attract more firms to our state.

Q: How do you envision NAIOP-AZ helping to address those challenges?

NAIOP-AZ will continue to advocate at the state Capitol for a more competitive tax code that creates more high-paying jobs for our economy. Besides advocating for property tax reform, we also are now advocating a corporate income tax rate reduction and a deal-closing fund for the governor in order to attract more firms and allow existing firms to expand.

Q: What are some opportunities you foresee in the industry in 2011?

As the foreclosures and the sale of distressed properties mount, this creates the opportunity for more out-of-state entrants to become active in our community. In other words, the companies that were well known before will be replaced by new firms that may re-charge our communities and have the potential to provide new perspectives.

This is the essence of the rising Phoenix myth and the image of Arizona that most Americans have — that it is an egalitarian state where one rises and falls on their merits and where even a desert can be remade into an oasis.

Q: What are some NAIOP-AZ initiatives for the coming year?

During an economic downturn, the key is to do more with less. Our trade association is not immune, as many of our members have lost their job or taken new jobs for less pay in the last year. As a result, we are trying to offer more networking and educational opportunities.

A key example is the institution of a Market Leaders Sunrise Series. We invite our membership to hear from industry panels that are experts in certain fields such as lending, economic development, brokerage or “green” initiatives.

We also have attempted to pursue strategic alliances with other trade associations, where we can co-leverage resources toward more bang for the membership buck. An example is we plan to co-sponsor ULI’s Trends Day in January, where our members may get a reduced fee for attending. We also have partnered with BOMA-AZ in offering multiple continuing education courses.

Internally, we are looking at pursuing a mentoring program, where individual board members would partner with commercial real estate professionals 35 years of age and under from our Developing Leaders Committee.

In closing, we would be remiss in not thanking our corporate sponsors and members who have made our trade association a relevant force in public policy advocacy and in providing a platform for education, networking and philanthropic involvement.

For more information about NAIOP-AZ and Tim Lawless, visit naiop-az.org.

AZRE Magazine September/October 2010