Author: Kevin Brass

KEVIN BRASS writes regularly about property and development for the New York Times International Edition and the Financial Times.

Articles by Kevin Brass

  • Boom in U.S. Student Housing Deals Seems Far from Over
    Published on February 26, 2018 in Development
    Investors continue to pour money into U.S. student housing projects. Despite shrinking yields and rising development costs, transaction activity in 2017 was “very strong” after a record volume in 2016, according to CBRE.
  • After the Storms: How 2017 Storms Affected Forecasts for Texas, Florida, and Elsewhere
    Published on January 22, 2018 in Market Trends
    The surveys and interviews for the Emerging Trends in Real Estate® 2018 report were complete; the data had been compiled, and the reports had been written. Then, for some of the major U.S. Sun Belt cities, everything changed. Historic storms raged across the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean, destroying property and lives and upending all the forecasts and predictions for property markets in the Southeast. Investors and developers were sent scrambling to reassess their analysis and financial models.
  • Costs, Resistance to Denser Development Holding Markets Like San Diego Back
    Published on January 22, 2018 in Market Trends
    In many ways, San Diego illustrates the challenges facing many attractive U.S. cities, including the demand for affordable housing, struggling retail, and the need for more senior housing. At the top of the list is a strong community wariness of any new development, which has made it difficult to build meaningful mixed-use projects, said speakers during a January panel discussion organized by ULI San Diego–Tijuana.
  • Germany’s New Hot Spot: Berlin
    Published on January 08, 2018 in Development
    Europacity and the recently sold Sony Center are two examples demonstrating why Berlin is considered a market to watch.
  • Redesigning the Grid: Barcelona’s Experiment with Superblocks
    Published on December 18, 2017 in Planning & Design
    Can the city create a healthier, less automobile-centric environment by closing more streets to traffic?
  • “Magic” Johnson Is Setting His Sights on Infrastructure Deals
    Published on October 26, 2017 in Infrastructure
    NBA champion and dedicated urban developer Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. is targeting a new prize—infrastructure. “If you look at infrastructure in America, it’s old,” he told the audience at the 2017 ULI Fall Meeting.
  • Getting Cities Right
    Published on October 25, 2017 in Sustainability
    A diverse panel of property industry experts pushed back on a recent New York Times article asking, “Why Can’t We Get Cities Right?” during a lively 2017 ULI Fall Meeting session.
  • City Resilience Officers, Developers Share Lessons from an Extreme Season
    Published on October 25, 2017 in Sustainability
    The hurricanes that ravaged the U.S. Southeast and the Caribbean and the fires raging through the Northwest have refocused and energized resilience discussions.
  • Frank Gehry: Architects Should Become Partners with Developers
    Published on October 24, 2017 in Planning & Design
    Architects must take more responsibility for their work, legendary designer Frank Gehry told a general session audience Tuesday during the 2017 ULI Fall Meeting. Architects need to “get into the fray,” Gehry said.
  • L.A. Developers Bullish on Their City, but Point to Oversupply
    Published on October 24, 2017 in Development
    As ULI opened its 2017 Fall Meeting in Los Angeles, Robert Lowe, chairman and founder of Lowe Enterprises and the conference’s cochair, told attendees that the Los Angeles of today is much different than the L.A. that hosted ULI six years ago.
  • Playa Vista: From Spruce Goose to Google
    Published on October 23, 2017 in Development
    The enormous mixed-use development on Los Angeles’s Westside is a tech and media hub. After decades of debate and false starts, Playa Vista is now home to more than 10,000 people.
  • Vision for USC Village in Los Angeles More Than a Decade in the Making
    Published on October 09, 2017 in Planning & Design
    Eleven years after a ULI panel examined the potential development of 15 acres (6 ha) controlled by the University of Southern California in south central Los Angeles, USC Village is a reality. The $700 million project, which opened in August, is a mix of housing for 2,500 students, classrooms, a dining hall, and a community-focused retail complex.
  • Despite Expanded Canal, Industrial Booms around Los Angeles
    Published on August 21, 2017 in Development
    A year after the opening of the Panama Canal expansion, rents for industrial space around the Port of Los Angeles are at an all-time high and vacancy rates are hovering around 1 percent.
  • Seeing a Bright Future for Energy Storage
    Published on July 31, 2017 in Sustainability
    Commercial property owners are rethinking their skepticism toward energy storage systems, with battery prices dropping and third parties offering new financing models.
  • Sustainable Philanthropy Means Asking Others for Help, Setting Limits
    Published on May 12, 2017 in Inside ULI
    A panel discussion at the 2017 ULI Spring Meeting in Seattle focused on the challenges facing industry executives interested in taking a leadership role in philanthropy while continuing to run a business.
  • Amazon and the Evolution of a Downtown Corporate Campus
    Published on May 12, 2017 in Development
    Three of the primary participants in the creation of Amazon’s headquarters in downtown Seattle came together during the 2017 ULI Spring Meeting for a discussion of the long history.
  • Targeted Use of Sensors Help Cities Track Impact of Traffic and Weather
    Published on May 10, 2017 in Market Trends
    The evolution of “smart” cities is about solving specific problems more than sweeping urban transformation, panelists emphasized during the 2017 ULI Spring Meeting. Targeted programs with clear benefits are defining smart cities, not the widespread embrace of new technology, they said. In Seattle, “smart” means expanding the network of low-cost sensors, which is allowing for adaptive traffic signals and detailed weather mapping that can track microclimates and rain surges.
  • Former U.S. Vice President Biden: “I’ve Never Been More Optimistic”
    Published on May 04, 2017 in Market Trends
    Former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr. sounded an optimistic note in his address to ULI Spring Meeting attendees in Seattle, showing some of the populist spirit that earned him the nickname “Uncle in Chief.”
  • ULI Forecast Calls for Moderate Growth for Most U.S. Real Estate Sectors
    Published on April 21, 2017 in Market Trends
    While the growth of e-commerce and the shifting needs for open and smaller office spaces are having a marginal impact, most of these disruptive forces are still years away from having a substantive negative impact on the retail, office, and other industry sectors, said panelists discussing the latest ULI Real Estate Consensus Forecast during a webinar.
  • Improving Seattle’s Lower Duwamish River Area
    Published on April 17, 2017 in Sustainability
    In 2015, ULI’s Advisory Services program convened a ULI resilience panel to study issues facing the area surrounding the Lower Duwamish Waterway, which is badly polluted with toxins and industrial waste and was identified in 2001 as a Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Two years later, the cleanup of the river continues and there is renewed interest in addressing the community issues.
  • Understanding the Hurdles Facing Autonomous Vehicles in Busy Downtowns
    Published on February 27, 2017 in Market Trends
    Last December, car-sharing giant Uber abruptly loaded its prototype autonomous cars onto a trailer and moved its program from California to Arizona after a dispute with state regulators. If nothing else, the potential conflict over autonomous vehicles in California is a reminder that many complicated hurdles need to be cleared before the much-discussed takeover of autonomous cars. Communities and legislators are wrestling with the realities of regulating and creating infrastructure, even though it remains unclear what role driverless vehicles will play in future mobility.
  • Focus on Energy Efficiency Shifting from Prescription to Performance
    Published on February 13, 2017 in Sustainability
    Energy and energy efficiency were recurring topics at a recent event hosted by ULI Los Angeles, as developers and planners wrestle with ways to improve the efficiency of buildings and communities. New technology and government mandates have helped push the issues to the forefront, but speakers emphasized repeatedly the need for a different way of thinking about short- and long-term goals.
  • Investors React to Changing Tourist Patterns in Europe
    Published on February 03, 2017 in Development
    Europe is a divided continent in many ways. While markets like Spain, Portugal, and Croatia are experiencing a surge in visitors, France, Belgium, and Turkey face a tourism crisis. Performance varies from country to country.
  • Outdoor Space, Modern Food Offerings Help Energize Aging Corporate Campuses
    Published on November 21, 2016 in Market Trends
    Dallas was an appropriate location for a 2016 ULI Fall Meeting discussion on energizing corporate campuses, with several large-scale headquarter developments underway in the region.
  • Parking Garages Will Evolve for Adaptive Use and as Multimodal Transit Hubs
    Published on November 17, 2016 in Infrastructure
    From reconfiguring garages for adaptable uses to creating space for storing drones, experts in parking discuss new ways to design garages.
  • Cautious Optimism, Competitive Markets Characterize Emerging Trends Responses
    Published on November 16, 2016 in Market Trends
    When the latest Emerging Trends in Real Estate® report for the United States and Canada was unveiled at the 2016 ULI Fall Meeting in Dallas, the panel discussion quickly turned to how to convert the research into action. The report points to an industry in transition, one that is trying to find ways to maximize investments in a time of low interest rates and global uncertainty.
  • Future of Global Capital: Low Interest Rates, High Volatility
    Published on November 08, 2016 in Capital Markets
    Global finance experts speaking at the 2016 ULI Fall Meeting in late October said that institutional investors were preparing for an extended period of low interest rates and global volatility. But U.S. election results soon added another layer of complexity.
  • Debunking Economic Myths: U.S. Growth Likely to Continue through 2018 and Beyond
    Published on November 08, 2016 in Market Trends
    Perhaps it is a sign of uncertain times when top-level economists start talking about feelings. The current U.S. economy is “not quite as bad as it feels,” said JLL Americas managing director Ben Breslau, during a 2016 ULI Fall Meeting panel discussion. “Not that there’s no risk, but it’s not quite as bad as it feels.”
  • ULI Consensus Forecast Sees Strength in Industrial, but Fewer Transactions Overall in Coming Years
    Published on November 03, 2016 in Capital Markets
    The numbers in the latest ULI Real Estate Consensus Forecast may show flat to lower growth in the coming years, but there is plenty of both risk and opportunity in the market, as panelists said during a 2016 ULI Fall Meeting session on the report. “Economic growth in the United States is still happening,” said Jeanette Rice, head of investment research in the Americas for CBRE.
  • How North Texas Competes for Large Employers, Retains Talent
    Published on October 26, 2016 in Development
    During the opening session of the 2016 ULI Fall Meeting in Dallas, executives of three large companies explained why they chose north Texas for new headquarters projects: affordable housing and a strong local economy.
  • Bringing Mixed-Use Concepts to a Texas-Sized NFL Training Facility
    Published on October 24, 2016 in Development
    Sports stadiums are the centerpiece of many redevelopment projects around the world, but there has never been a project quite like the new Dallas Cowboys development in Frisco, a city about 25 miles (40 km) north of Dallas. The Cowboys’ training facility—where the team holds practices and meetings, and conducts other activities—is the focal point of a 91-acre (37 ha) mixed-use development, the product of a complicated public/private partnership that includes the local school district.
  • Integrating Affordable Housing into Plans for Transit-Oriented Development
    Published on October 12, 2016 in Development
    Panelists at the ULI Los Angeles transit-oriented development event held in October agreed that affordable housing has moved to the top of the agenda for local agencies and planners. Traffic and walkability are still priorities, but affordable housing is the Holy Grail in the city.
  • How Los Angeles Is Planning for More Transit-Oriented Development
    Published on October 12, 2016 in Development
    This session at ULI Los Angeles conference provided an unusual opportunity to hear two of L.A.’s key planners discuss their attitudes, priorities, and philosophies, and offered a glimpse into the future of L.A. development as they addressed the myriad issues facing the city.
  • Rerouting the Trinity River
    Published on October 03, 2016 in Infrastructure
    Fort Worth’s bold plan of dredging channels and tearing down levies would enhance flood control, connect people with the waterfront—and double the amount of land in the city’s downtown.
  • Dense, Walkable Urbanism Drawing Corporate Offices to Plano, Texas
    Published on September 09, 2016 in Development
    One of the largest eat/work/ play/live developments in Texas, the $3 billion Legacy West project is attracting companies like Toyota, FedEx, JPMorgan Chase, and Liberty Mutual by focusing on the interests of generation X and millennial employees.
  • Before It Runs Off
    Published on July 14, 2016 in Sustainability
    With water becoming an increasingly valuable resource, more emphasis is being placed on capturing and retaining rainwater and graywater.
  • U.S. Hotel Industry Bracing for a Slower Year
    Published on June 29, 2016 in Development
    After years of steady growth, the hotel industry is bracing for a tough year. “Growth and revenue are slowing down,” Bruce Baltin, managing director of CBRE Hotels, told executives and experts gathered for ULI’s “Hotel and Resort Development: Next Wave of Innovation” conference in La Costa, California, held in June. “It’s hit a peak. We think we’re at a plateau.”
  • What’s Working and What’s Not as Generational Shift Hits Hospitality Sector
    Published on June 29, 2016 in Hotels/Resorts
    The long-predicted generational shift in the hotel industry is starting to happen, according to speakers at ULI’s recent “Hotel and Resort Development: Next Wave of Innovation” conference in La Costa, California. Baby boomers are growing older and millennials are developing as a buying group, forcing developers and operators to rethink developments. Everyone is racing to determine what works—and what doesn’t—as projects look to adjust to the latest trends, speakers said.
  • Demonstrating Healthy Corridors in Los Angeles’s Pacoima Neighborhood
    Published on June 14, 2016 in Sustainability
    After years of community conversations, planning, and stalled projects, the Los Angeles neighborhood of Pacoima is getting closer to moving forward on a wide range of initiatives to bring new life to Van Nuys Boulevard, the area’s main thoroughfare.
  • Adding a Living Facade to a Dated Office Building in West Hollywood
    Published on April 05, 2016 in Planning & Design
    The headquarters for IAC, a media company that owns and HomeAdvisor, was a bland, brick-tile structure built in West Hollywood during the 1980s, making any type of retrofitting a challenge. A refresh of the exterior added a five-story “living facade.”
  • Drawing People In: Placemaking and the Density Discussion
    Published on February 29, 2016 in Planning & Design
    Placemaking is key to the appeal of high-density projects. Great design—and education—may help win over skeptics.
  • U.S. Treasury Looking at Cash Buyers of Luxury Homes in New York, Miami
    Published on February 09, 2016 in Market Trends
    Residential real estate executives are assessing the impact of a new U.S. Treasury Department initiative to crack down on criminals and corrupt foreign officials who use luxury home purchases to launder money, requiring title insurance companies in Miami and New York City to disclose the identities of buyers paying cash starting in March.
  • 18-Hour Cities Reinforce Their Hold on Investors’ and Developers’ Attention
    Published on February 01, 2016 in Market Trends
    Eight of the top ten cities identified by the Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2016 report compiled by ULI and PwC as the most favorable for investment and development in 2016 are secondary cities, sometimes called 18-hour cities. There is greater risk in such cities, but they also offer better opportunities and the potential for larger yields than the traditional gateway cities, survey respondents said.
  • Putting Developers’ Environmental Impact to a Vote in California
    Published on November 09, 2015 in Sustainability
    Last year, the California Supreme Court ruled that a project proposed through the citizen initiative process and subsequently approved by a council—without a public vote—was exempt from a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review, overturning a lower court decision. Now, a project can potentially avoid months of costly CEQA-related delays if a developer raises enough signatures for an initiative and the council or board simply ratifies the project.
  • Better Regional Planning Is Key to “Selling” Higher Densities
    Published on October 26, 2015 in Market Trends
    The biggest challenge facing developers hoping to create high-density, livable communities is often the people in the existing neighborhood, said Peter Calthorpe, head of Calthorpe Associates, speaking at the ULI Fall Meeting.
  • Reimagining Luxury at Modern Resorts: Cycling Is the New Golf
    Published on October 19, 2015 in Planning & Design
    In a competitive global market, resort designers are racing to define the “new luxury.” The modern concept of luxury is “really about elegance and simplicity,” said Richard Centolella, a principal in design firm EDSA, during a panel discussion at the ULI Fall Meeting.
  • Giving Historic Preservation the Best Chance for Success
    Published on October 19, 2015 in Development
    For historic redevelopment to succeed, developers need to rethink their basic approach to projects, three leading experts said during a panel session at the ULI Fall Meeting in San Francisco.
  • Fundamentals Remain Strong for U.S. Real Estate
    Published on October 19, 2015 in Capital Markets
    During a panel discussion at the ULI Fall Meeting, three of the real estate industry’s leading economic experts explained their reasons for optimism while adding notes of caution, while also drawing on survey data from the latest ULI Real Estate Consensus Forecast.
  • Governor Brown Calls for Denser Development, Better Infrastructure
    Published on October 07, 2015 in Market Trends
    Speaking at the ULI Fall Meeting, California's Governor Brown sounded stern warnings that California’s much-touted recovery is sure to end and that the state will have to make tough decisions on climate change, development, and infrastructure.
  • A New City Place for Santa Clara
    Published on September 21, 2015 in Development
    Development plans would turn an area next to a new professional football stadium into an urban-style focal point for the Silicon Valley suburb.
  • Food Markets Nourishing Development
    Published on August 24, 2015 in Retail/Entertainment
    Though they pose unique development challenges, authentic, locally focused food vendors create unique experiences.
  • San Diego Wrestles with Densification
    Published on May 04, 2015 in Planning & Design
    A six-year-old attempt to build a $650 million high-density, mixed-use development in northern San Diego continues to stir debate about the role of new urbanism in a city known for suburban sprawl.
  • Rising Towers Escalate Need for Faster Lifts
    Published on December 01, 2014 in Planning & Design
    When Shanghai Tower opens as China’s tallest building next year, the 2,073-foot (632 m) tower will feature elevators capable of traveling 40.3 miles (64.8 km) per hour. But how fast can modern elevators go without sacrificing comfort?
  • A Hong Kong Developer’s Vision for Miami
    Published on September 08, 2014 in Development
    Built on land acquired during the Great Recession, Swire's Brickell City Centre could transform downtown Miami.
  • Transit Planners Look to the Sky with Cable Cars, Gondolas
    Published on March 19, 2014 in Infrastructure
    In a mountainous suburb of La Paz, Bolivia, crews are finishing the first leg of a network of gondolas, which may be the largest mass transit cable-car system in the world.
  • “London Eye” Leads New Wave of Big Wheels Across the Globe
    Published on January 16, 2014 in Planning & Design
    One hundred twenty years after George Ferris’s invention first wowed crowds at the Chicago World’s Fair, the Ferris wheel has reappeared as part of several new projects.