Calvin Gladney is a public/private partnership strategist and managing partner of Mosaic Urban Partners, a real estate development and advisory services firm based in Washington, D.C., that specializes in transforming urban communities. He participated in a ULI Advisory Services panel on Eccleston Place in London in 2012 and, among other projects, is advising Oakland, California, on the redevelopment of Broadway, an important commercial and retail corridor in the city.
Are there any things you can identify as reliable warning signs that trouble is on the way for a project, an investment, a business, or the economy?
Breaking even on paper. Except in boom times, revenues often come in slower and lower than you modeled, and expenses are incurred faster and come in higher than expected.
What’s the biggest fad in the land use industry?
The biggest fad right now is smaller residential apartment units—as an example, studio apartments that max out at less than 400 square feet [37 sq m].
What’s the best thing you’ve read lately?
A recent report on the philosophical and financial reasons millennials have changed their transportation modal shares. [Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People Are Driving Less and What It Means for Transportation Policy, Frontier Group and U.S. PIRG Education Fund, 2012.] The report spurred me to think about how those changes will affect what we should build as real estate developers.
If people did not know you for your professional role, how might they describe you?
They’d describe me as a comedian.
What technology do you find most impressive or indispensable?
Twitter. It’s a two-way bonanza of real-time information on things that are happening, and topical information from thought leaders you select to follow. [His Twitter handle is @mosaicurban.]
What artistic events have you attended recently?
A week or two ago, I attended a great concert with up-and-coming jazz singer Gregory Porter at the historic Howard Theater in D.C. The Howard Theater is a catalytic public/private partnership financed in part by historic and new market tax credits.
What are your three favorite cities, and why?
My number-one city is New York because I’m from Brooklyn, and if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere . . .
My second favorite city is the District. It is cosmopolitan, ever-changing, and is one of the best real estate markets in the world! And yes, I like politics.
Third is San Francisco. I worked for a real estate development firm in San Francisco for over four years, and I figuratively left my heart out there basking in San Francisco’s scenic beauty. But my heart got cold during the frigid summers, so I moved back to the East Coast.
What’s your best prediction for the next 12 months?
The Miami Heat, St. Louis Cardinals, and New York Giants will all fail to repeat as world champions in their respective sports. And I’m a Giants fan. (Editor’s note: So far, he’s one for one.)
Quick Questions is a new feature in Urban Land. If there is someone in the broad field of land use whom you would like to see featured in this space, submit your nomination to Urbanland@uli.org.
Photo by Joanne S. Lawton ©Washington Business Journal, reprinted with permission.