Spotlight On: Gray Shell, Division President, TRI Pointe Homes

Spotlight On: Gray Shell, Division President, TRI Pointe Homes

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — Creative product design and an increase in density are part of achieving a higher relative affordability for housing developer TRI Pointe Homes, according to Division President Gray Shell. The company also takes pride in achieving good, lasting business relationships with partners and providers to keep prices fair in an increasingly tight market, he said in an interview with Invest: Charlotte. 

How have you been able to secure land in the tight North Carolina market?

 

It really starts with people, with hiring the right land acquisition team to identify and underwrite the deals. Company strategy follows. TRI Pointe is a $3 billion public company. We build in seven states, but really, real estate is a local business. We have this concept called the best of big and small, meaning, we are a big, public company, we have access to the public debt markets, we have nearly a billion in liquidity to invest, but we really see the land strategy, the product design, the consumer segmentation as a local business. We have the flexibility to be creative and current with our product design and to be design-forward. That really resonates well with land sellers, developers and municipalities when we talk about our creativity on the product side. That is probably the largest single factor in our success in addition to people. Then, there is the process. You have to have the right process of identifying, underwriting and contracting land.

 

How is creativity applied to property development?

 

We start with a property, for example something near Uptown Charlotte. Here, it is about small acreage and a lot of density, and we want to create good relative affordability. So, we know what the property is, but we need to design the site plan and the product to maximize the use of that land.

 

We go through a product design process in which we identify the consumer. For example, are they millennials and if so, are they married or single, what is the household income? We’ll go through a three- day design process considering the customer’s wants and needs and, from scratch, draw a series of plans. By the end of those three days, we’ll have a good set of working drawings, with exterior elevations and renderings so we really understand the product. Most national builders would do that in nine months; we do it in a week.

 

What has been the impact of the millennial generation on the local market?

 

They do represent the single largest consumer group from a home buying perspective. But even if some people see millennials as one large group, there are really four or five different subsets, related to age, stage of life and income. The one thing all of them do want is relative affordability. It depends on whether they want an in-town, four-story product or a more suburban, traditional, residential two-story product, but you really have to decide what subsegment of that generation you are targeting.

 

The sort of amenities that we add to these developments has changed dramatically over the last five to 10 years. A lot of residential projects that were built 10 years ago had a big swimming pool, a large clubhouse, a golf course, but that has really transitioned and I can tell you, the No. 1 amenity today is walkability. Whether a community has a trail system, walkability to retail, entertainment and restaurants, that is the No. 1 amenity. When we get to suburban communities, there is still that want and need for younger families to have a swimming pool, but the scale is usually smaller.

 

How are you navigating the increase in construction costs in the area as you develop these communities?

 

It really starts with relationships. We partner with trade partners on the product design, on the value engineering, and they want to grow their business with ours. With that relationship, you might not get the best price, but you get a fair price and you get more advance notice of cost increases because you are partnering on it. It is also a tight labor market, the labor pool is short, but when you build a business relationship where they’d rather work for you, that is how you get the labor, and again, a fair price.

 

What other challenges for developers are arising in the Charlotte market?

 

Land availability has always been an issue. There is also the complexity regarding zoning, entitlements, and permit fees that continue to escalate so the cost of development becomes more expensive and affects affordability from a consumer standpoint. Those are the biggest problems. Every municipality is a little bit different and we have a dozen in the Charlotte market, so you have to really understand the municipality and partner with it to get the best result.

 

How can developers and local governments help to cover the affordable housing gap in the market?

 

I think that it requires flexibility from a product design standpoint, and creating good relative affordability. You get there by creating smaller, denser products, but it pushes yields up too. Some municipalities don’t like density, but I think getting more creative with density is the best approach over the next three to five years.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://www.tripointehomes.com/

 

We’re making our mark on the industry by offering a strong benefits programs and great opportunities to build careers, a total rewards program to attract and retain the best talent: the unusual combination of offering both industry-leading 401(k) matches and a pension plan to most teammates; industry-leading time off programs to ensure maximum flexibility in planning life events; and financial wellness programs.

 

There is also a place for those interested in computer science and engineering. We are creating an Innovation and Technology Center in Charlotte that will be dedicated to the ongoing enrichment of client experiences. The Innovation and Technology Center will focus on optimizing technology to serve our clients at every interaction, whether it takes place in a branch, over the phone or through a digital channel. The Technology and Innovation Center will also focus on equipping teammates with solutions to deliver personal touch and care to clients. We see this combination of technology and personalization as vital to ensuring clients’ trust and confidence in the security, simplicity and convenience of our services.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit :https://www.truist.com/

Face Off: The growth of Gaston County

Face Off: The growth of Gaston County

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — In the last few years, Gaston County, located an hour away from the Queen City, has greatly benefited from the activity happening in Mecklenburg County. As a result, Gaston County, home to cities like Gastonia and Mount Holly, is experiencing growth in its residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Its proximity to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport and available land make it a suitable place for businesses and new residents to settle in and still tap into the energy of nearby Charlotte. In an interview with Invest: Charlotte, city of Gastonia Mayor Walker E. Reid and Mount Holly Mayor Bryan Hough talk about how their perspective cities are adapting to the growth, changes in infrastructure, and their vision for their cities moving forward. 

 

What areas are witnessing growth in your cities?

 

Walker E. Reid: Residential is growing in the southeast part of the city. It is an area we invested in a while back in hopes of developing it. As we speak, 411 single-family homes are being built within Nolen Farm. Also, we are going to bolster the zone’s water infrastructure and improve the sewage system. Eastridge Mall is in the process of being revitalized as well. For this project, some investors are willing to inject between $100 million and $150 million. It will include apartments and an aquatic center. We are working on the details of traffic patterns in and out of the mall. We are also working with the Transportation Commission to get the Silverline light rail into Gaston County.

 

Bryan Hough: We are one of the closest cities to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Our proximity to the airport provides an opportunity for travelers and professionals to see Mount Holly and take an interest in the city. They’ll see that we have a small town atmosphere but can take advantage of a large place like Charlotte and the amenities they provide. The exposure the airport provides is good for job growth and opportunities for commercial growth. For 2020, we expect to see more investment coming to Mount Holly. We are going to see additional growth in both residential and commercial. We also plan to expand the greenway system. Our arts community has been blossoming and we expect it to continue to grow. 

Walker E. Reid

How is the local infrastructure dealing with the region’s growth?

 

Reid: The county was traditionally and primarily focused on the textile industry. When those businesses and jobs were lost, we had to adapt to find our next business niche, which turned out to be infrastructure. Now, we sell water to municipalities in Gaston County as well as in Clover, South Carolina. We also provide water, sewage and electricity services. The Gastonia Technology Park is a great testament to our diversification efforts. Businesses from all over the world have come to Gaston County to capitalize on this park. It has 24-hour uninterrupted power. We have a qualified workforce, training facilities and the infrastructure to assist new businesses looking to set up shop in Gastonia.

 

Hough: “Mount Holly, located in Gaston County, is home to 16,000 residents. In the past year, we have seen a lot of investor interest and development in Mount Holly. Investors in the manufacturing and distribution sectors are interested in development opportunities. We have a new hotel being built on the edge of our city, off of Interstate 85, which is connected to Charlotte, and is 10 minutes away from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Our economic development department created a strategic vision plan based on significant economic input that highlights the attributes of Mount Holly, and provides investment information for businesses that want to bring their operations to the area. We work with the Gaston County Economic Development Commission to attract and retain large commercial companies. We want to make investment information accessible to investors.  

Bryan Hough

As mayor, where do you see your city heading in the future?

 

Reid: We have set some very aggressive goals related to our infrastructure, healthy communities, good government, economic vitality, our community identity, and for the safety of our community. In the coming years, we will continue to build on our momentum of growth and entrepreneurship. We also must continue to bring everyone to the table because we are a diverse city. One other goal that I would like to see the city work toward is for more diversity and inclusion. I want to put more emphasis on getting our residents from different cultures and different age groups involved in our city’s future – to build a sense of belonging and bring everyone together. Let’s hear more and different voices. I want the city of Gastonia to become the best city we can possibly be. Considering we are between Charlotte and Atlanta, we have a lot to offer.

 

Hough: Quality of life has been a key focus for the city. We want to be connected to the Catawba River via a greenway system that we are developing. We will have around 9 miles of greenway development near the river and 200 acres have been preserved for eco-tourism, such as canoeing and kayaking. We will have a bridge near the Dutchman’s Creek greenway area that will help with development near the river. The greenway system will stretch from I-85 to Highway 16 once it is completed. Mount Holly is home to very active residents who like to swim, bike and kayak. We want to connect with nature, which is part of our logo. That is our niche in the Charlotte Metro Area.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.cityofgastonia.com/

https://www.mtholly.us/

Spotlight On: Leor Hemo, Founder & Managing Principal, Vantage Real Estate Services

Spotlight On: Leor Hemo, Founder & Managing Principal, Vantage Real Estate Services

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — Real estate investors from high-valuation areas like New York, North Jersey, Texas and California are bringing considerable activity to the Southern New Jersey region due to its affordability, according to Leor Hemo, founder and managing principal of Vantage Real Estate Services. The Invest: team recently interviewed Hemo about the strengths, challenges and areas of growth in South Jersey’s real estate market. 

 

 What unique investor opportunities does South Jersey offer?

South Jersey geographically is positioned to attract not only investors but also companies that require space, such as those in logistics, transportation and warehousing. South Jersey has the land mass to allow for large-scale, industrial developments. I-95 and or I-295 and the New Jersey Turnpike connect to New York, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and further down to the Southern states. Comparatively, the eastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia markets lack this land mass. With the national economy so strong, low interest rates and small business confidence up, we are experiencing an influx of small businesses leasing office space. There has even been increased activity in the retail world in the past few years. Retail space is being occupied by service providers, such as healthcare and financial services. There is a soaring demand for large-scale developments for multifamily projects in South Jersey. 

 

What is the landscape for healthcare real estate?

The large healthcare systems are taking over the traditional family practices and specialties. Dental specialists and oral surgeons are active in starting new practices or expanding them. The same can be said for physical therapists and chiropractors. These specialty practices are growing and fueling a large demand for space. By the nature of their business, chiropractors, physical therapists and dentists are always interested in retail space for visibility and exposure purposes.

 

What challenges do you face in South Jersey?

The biggest challenge is the bureaucracy from our local governments, as well as the tax burden on businesses and individuals. Real estate taxes are still the No. 1 issue for property owners and businesses because of the impact on rents. Some regulations in place are hampering business and growth.

 

What is your outlook for the company and the market?

In terms of Vantage Real Estate, we just opened a new office in Philadelphia. It is a market we are rapidly growing into. We are also expanding our services portfolio: We have expanded our services and specialties and offer healthcare real estate, business brokerage, investment sales and multifamily as well. If the economy does well, South Jersey will do well, provided the regulatory framework remains unrestrictive. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Vantage Real Estate Services: https://www.vantageres.com/ 

 

Gloucester County Emerges as the Jewel in South Jersey’s Crown

Gloucester County Emerges as the Jewel in South Jersey’s Crown

By: Sara Warden

2 min read January 2020 — In a roundtable published in Forbes this week, the magazine’s Real Estate Council made a definitive ranking of the 14 Up-and-Coming Real Estate Locations to Watch. Coming in at No. 13 was none other than South Jersey’s very own Gloucester County. “For the most inspired growing area, look to Gloucester County in South Jersey!” said panelist Nancy Kowalik, owner of Nancy Kowalik Real Estate Group. 

 

But why is this county gentrifying so quickly? According to Kowalik, it’s because Gloucester County has everything. “Located close to the city and the shore, we have green spaces, room to breathe, wineries, a quaint Downtown and bike paths,” she said. “It’s all here, and that’s why world-class Rowan University is growing. A new 1,000-bed, state-of-the-art hospital is opening, too.”

The hospital to which she is referring is the Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill, 465,000-square-foot development over 100 acres with 210 private rooms, a maternity center and 62-room emergency department. The project, the county’s first new hospital in almost 45 years, was built with raised funds of $23 million, a campaign that took just seven months to reach its target.

“This is a tremendous day for South Jersey, Gloucester County and our health system,” John DiAngelo, Inspira Health’s CEO and president, said at the hospital’s ribbon-cutting ceremony in December. “With this new hospital, our commitment to providing exceptional care for our community, in our community, reaches a new level. We are excited to bring the latest in healthcare to the people of Gloucester County and surrounding communities.”

As far as the university expansion, one of the main developments has been the $400 million, 26-acre Rowan Boulevard project. 

As well as the healthcare sector and academia, Gloucester County is also proving to be attractive for the private sector, and has become somewhat of a home to craft breweries. The most recent addition is Core3Brewery, a new player that joins the ranks of Human Village Brewing Co. in Pitman, Eight & Sand Beer Co. in Woodbury, Cross Keys Brewing Co. in Williamstown and Death of the Fox Brewing Company in Clarksboro. 

“We were really drawn to the way they are building up the area around the college and definitely see the positive direction the area is moving in,” Krystle Lockman, owner of Axe and Arrow Microrewery, told South Jersey Business Journal. “It’s great to be on the ground floor of this redevelopment project in an area we have so many ties to.”

And Core3’s owner, Lawrence Price, told South Jersey Business Journal that the ease of doing business in the county will only contribute to its continued growth. “[The borough] has been so supportive and helpful and business friendly. Everything they could do to help us, they did,” he said. “Mayor Tom Bianco has always been upfront with us and in the mix of things, stopping by at least once or twice a week to see how things are going and if there is anything he can do.”

 

 

To learn more, visit:

https://www.nancykowalik.com/

http://www.inspirahealthnetwork.org/mullicahill

https://www.rowan.edu/

http://www.core3brewery.com/

https://axeandarrowbrewing.com/

 

Spotlight On: Douglas Smith, Charlotte Market Executive, First Bank

Spotlight On: Douglas Smith, Charlotte Market Executive, First Bank

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020  — After its recent acquisition of Carolina Bank, regional North Carolina financial player First Bank wants to keep its focus on the smaller side of business finance. The bank is relying on a combination of market expertise and speedy response to cater to companies with revenues up to $100 million that could fall through the cracks of larger, national institutions, First Bank Charlotte Market Executive Douglas Smith told Invest: Charlotte 

 

 

What have been the main impact from the 2017 acquisition of Carolina Bank?

 

Carolina Bank was a $700-million to $750-million bank at the time of acquisition, so it was not insignificant from a balance sheet perspective. That operation has had a high impact. We had an opportunity to relocate some of our operations people from Troy, North Carolina, to Greensboro, which has had a positive economic impact there. Carolina Bank was dominant in real estate and we have been able to capitalize on its market share in Greensboro. We were also able to keep some very good bankers from the Carolina Bank team, and hired really good team members with experience in the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) business since the acquisition.

 

Which niche is First Bank trying to fill within the Charlotte market?

 

In 2017, there were five banks headquartered out of Charlotte and now there is one, Bank of America. The landscape has changed a lot. Most regional and national banks are swimming upstream from a client perspective. They are looking more for midmarket clients with half a billion dollars in revenue or higher. Our opportunity is with operating companies that have $5 million to $100 million in revenue. I think there is a void there, not just in banks but also regarding the expertise of bankers in that market. Other regional banks offer business banking or a smaller commercial focus, but I don’t think they have our background or our emphasis on commercial banking. We also have a lot of knowledge in commercial real estate and look for project opportunities ranging in size from $2 million to $25 million. 

 

As a community bank, we have the opportunity to be nimble and quick in our decision-making. We make sure that we have a credit partner in every metropolitan market and we always have a treasury management product officer in every major market, providing all the commercially-relevant pieces that you need to offer quick answers, go to market together and have quick engagement. If we get a full financial package on a prospect, we can have a term sheet in our prospect’s hands within two or three business days. We have heard stories that in the regional bank space, some banks can take four to five weeks to put a term sheet in the hands of a prospect. That speaks to a client.

 

Which financial services are most in demand by your clients?

 

Aside from commercial, the mortgage space is hot right now, given where interest rates are. For a while, we were slowing down on refinances but I think that even those people who refinanced two years ago now see that rates could have dropped to 1% or 1.5%, and they are back at play in the market. Acquisition activity is still decent, but the rates environment is definitely driving a lot of activity to the mortgage side. We have a Small Business Administration (SBA) division, which does very well for us from a fee income perspective.

 

The retail group has also done a great job. We hired a team within the last 18 months that is focused on the oversight of the retail function. Our First at Work product provides the employees of new commercial clients with benefits like free checking, free closing on loans, discounted prices and general financial wellness seminars for their employees. That has been a very meaningful deposit-gathering tool for us. 

 

What programs are you supporting at the community level to educate the public?

 

We focus on supporting anything regarding youth education. We try to help with math education, for example, and we put a great emphasis on kids in less developed suburbs of Charlotte who need financial assistance with school supplies. As kids get older, we also look for opportunities to help with financial literacy, making sure that high-school kids understand what a credit card is, what a checkbook is, and making sure to foster the right kinds of behaviors.

 

What is the near-term business outlook for the city and the bank?

 

I would like to believe that the lion’s share of the M&A activity in the community banking space is slowing down, just because there are fewer of our types of banks out there. Because there has been so much consolidation in the community banking space, the North Carolina commissioner of banking has been a little bit more generous with the issuance of charters, which offers opportunities for new capital groups to buy charters. As a result, I think we are again building up that base of true, smaller community banks that would be $100 million to $500 million in size, and the community needs that. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://localfirstbank.com/

 

Spotlight On: Douglas Smith, Charlotte Market Executive, First Bank

Local leaders optimistic amid Charlotte’s latest jobs ranking

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020   — The Queen City closed out the decade as one of the hottest markets in the nation, especially in the southeast. Millennials, Fortune 500 companies, and even a new soccer team want to be fully established in Charlotte and tap into its growth. And while the region offers a robust, tech- and financial services-savvy workforce, and is steadily diversifying its economy, a new report puts Charlotte in the middle of the pack for best cities for jobs in 2020. However, local market leaders across industries say job opportunities will remain sustainable for 2020, especially in the technology, law, and real estate sectors.

 

A new report by WalletHub puts Charlotte at No. 104 on its ranking of “2020’s Best Cities for Jobs.” The personal finance website compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 31 indicators of job-market strength, such as employment growth and monthly average starting salary. Scottsdale, Arizona, took the top spot, and Detroit, Michigan, came in last at No. 182. Other major North Carolina metros received mixed reviews, with Raleigh cracking the Top 50 at No. 48, and Fayetteville listed before Detroit at No. 181. Though the report listed Charlotte as middle of the pack for jobs compared to other cities, the technology, law and real estate sectors will continue to provide opportunities for the region’s workforce, local leaders say.  

 

Charlotte is quickly becoming a tech town, as evidenced by the different tech-based companies that relocated to the region in the latter half of the last decade. “In the Charlotte market, the technology talent pool is growing at a rapid pace, largely driven by companies like Red Ventures, LendingTree, and AvidXchange,” JLL Market Director Chase Monroe told Invest: Charlotte. “There has been a need for high-tech talent. Locally, there has been investment in the school system to drive technological education.” Charlotte’s banking legacy, coupled with the fintech that is coming out of the banking system, is also fueling the technology sector and driving talent to the Queen City, Monroe said. “Those factors have allowed Charlotte to be a top recruiter for multiple tech-based opportunities across industries. Recruiting and retention of talent has been a huge factor in the Charlotte Metro Area.” 

 

Similarly, the legal sector has evolved with the growth of the city and has a positive outlook heading into the new decade. “I don’t see anything but good things for the legal profession here,” Poyner Spruill Partner Tate Ogburn told Invest: Charlotte. “Charlotte has grown for the two decades that I have lived here, and I don’t see that dramatically changing.” The legal needs of companies evolve with the economic diversification and growth of the region, which creates opportunities for legal professionals, he said. “It is still a place where people want to be and there are more opportunities with new and more sophisticated companies coming in for the legal sector to continue growing. There are a lot of opportunities in terms of new clients and people, and different types of work as well,” Ogburn said. 

 

Real estate and development provide investor confidence and opportunities for the workforce as Charlotte continues to grow. “I’ve been at this for 40 years and the real estate market in Charlotte is the strongest, most robust I’ve ever seen,” Northwood CEO Ned Curran told Invest: Charlotte. He highlighted the growth of the residential, industrial and commercial sectors. “Residential leads the way. It has not slowed like in other cities. Distribution and manufacturing continue to grow, and we have a unique distribution hub of state highways and rail networks associated with the airport. The office sector has trailed a little, but in recent years it has been catching up, which is a reflection of job growth,” he said. Curran expects the growth to continue during an election year and beyond while expressing confidence in the region and its economic diversification, which will allow the region to be better prepared in the event of an economic downturn, he said. “We will continue to grow across all sectors. We continue to diversify our economy, which only gives us greater strength. When there is a downturn in the economy, not everybody suffers. Some have disadvantages, some have advantages, but we are all components of an economic system and with our great diversity, we will be able to weather it better.”

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit: 

https://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-for-jobs/2173/#methodology

https://www.us.jll.com/en/locations/southeast/carolinas

https://www.poynerspruill.com/

https://www.northwoodoffice.com/

 

Spotlight On: Scott Lyons, Business Unit Leader, SE Region DPR Construction

Spotlight On: Scott Lyons, Business Unit Leader, SE Region DPR Construction

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read January 2020— DPR Construction is leading the charge in delivering large construction projects faster and with better quality by employing prefabrication solutions and utilizing their own self-perform crews to put the work in place. Central Florida Business Unit Leader Scott Lyons discusses the prospects for the construction industry in Central Florida.

What has been the impact of DPR moving into Downtown Orlando and what opportunities are you finding there that promoted the move?

 

We moved Downtown in October 2018, which helped us combine two existing DPR Orlando offices into one. There is a great vibe Downtown, and many of our business partners and clients are now our next-door neighbors. This has been a path to strengthening our connections to the local business community with close proximity for lunch meetings or spending time with people in-person. Our new space was designed to host large groups, with a large training room and 10 conference rooms.

 

Our Orlando office is one of the largest for DPR, in terms of square footage, which provides us with the unique ability to host meetings for our national and regional teammates. Providing our visitors with walking-distance access to some of the city’s best restaurants and venues means they get the very best of what Orlando has to offer and DPR gets to contribute to the economic success of our Downtown district. We just fell in love with the Downtown vibe, it is where the energy is.

 

What are the most relevant projects DPR is working on in the region? 

 

We are finishing the KPMG Learning & Innovation facility, which will be completed by the end of 2019. It is the largest project being built by DPR in the Southeast this year. KPMG performed a lot of due diligence in choosing Orlando and the Lake Nona area and it has been one of the more rewarding, incredibly designed and fastest projects for us in a long time. Mega projects are historically tough to execute on time and on budget in the Central Florida area since finding enough skilled craftsmen to build these projects can be a challenge. However, our collaborative approach with the client and the design team plus integrating a lot of prefabricated components into the design has allowed the project to be built at a very good pace. This was truly a collaborative effort and success on behalf of our entire team, including the designer and our owner. KPMG is a huge regional project and a huge win for the city.

 

What are the clearest trends in construction in the Orlando area in recent years? 

 

At DPR, we are very passionate about driving forward the concept of prefabrication in our construction projects. There are multiple reasons for this. There is a shortage of skilled construction workers, so prefabrication decreases the demand for workers onsite and when you prefabricate components they are usually of a higher quality and safer generally, resulting in a better product for the client. For the KPMG project, we prefabricated 800-bathroom pods. We built them in a factory here in Orlando, called SurePods, and the quality was beyond anything we could get building them in place. It changed the dynamic of how the project was executed, resulting in a faster speed-to-market with fewer people needed on the project. Prefabrication is the way of the future for construction and DPR is well-positioned to lead this trend.

 

What other advanced technologies are you employing in your work? 

 

We are believers in technology where we can find a great use for it, and where it adds immediate value. We beta test a lot of ideas and technology, apps and software, and generally settle quickly on things that help the client or our people. One is laser scanning. We use it before rebuilding a client’s existing space, like a corporate office, to create a digital model that captures the exact reality of the designed space.

 

We are also working in partnership with Reigl to utilize LiDAR technology and bring some of their technology into the vertical construction market. It is a drone-borne scanning technology that flies over an existing site, scans it and provides the contours of the land, so you can see elevation changes and other useful data. A civil engineer can take that data to minimize how much dirt is moved around, for example. This type of real-world use of technology on our projects keeps us nimble. We are innovating in ways that not only change the landscape for the construction industry, they are helping our client successfully expand their products into new markets. 

 

What kinds of projects are in greatest demand in the Orlando area? 

 

The attractions companies have very robust plans for the next few years and we also see healthcare companies continuing to invest in their existing and new facilities. We also believe that advanced manufacturing will play an increased role in the Orlando economy as well, so we’re also keeping close tabs on those upcoming projects.

 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

DPR Construction: https://www.dpr.com/ 

Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — The Broward County Convention Center and Hotel is one of the largest projects underway in Broward County. A project of this magnitude requires the utmost care in regards to design and architecture, as well as the foresight to plan for future environmental challenges. Invest: spoke with Andrew Burnett, the senior principal for Stantec, which is working on the Convention Center project. Burnett addressed the company’s ongoing projects, how shifting demands have changed its focus and the National Flood Insurance Program. 

 

What are some of your most significant projects in development within Broward County? 

 

We have multiple projects throughout Broward County, including the Fort Lauderdale region, Pompano Beach, Sunrise and Miramar. For instance, we are the architect of record and landscape architect for the Broward County Convention Center and Hotel, which is around a $1 billion project. This is an extremely large and involved project requiring integrated services from Stantec that also has many resilient aspects being built into it that we hope to use as a model for future growth and development throughout the county. As we are expanding the convention center and building the new hotel, we have done a series of wave-height analyses. These are not just focused on the floodplain and how high we need to build the building to stay out of the floodplain, they also address storm surges and how to design the building to be more resilient in those situations. It has been great to have the county’s support on these matters. Our other projects in Broward County include the new AC Hotel by Marriott in Sawgrass Mills, Manor Miramar, Las Olas Walk and 1380 South Ocean Boulevard. 

 

How have you seen demand shift in the last couple of years and how are you adapting to this shift? 

 

Historically, we would see the demand for smaller residential units in the Downtown urban core because of the density of the population. As we moved away from the urban areas, the units were constructed bigger to attract more people, but now we are starting to see smaller units becoming attractive away from the urban centers. This indicates that people are looking for alternative solutions that are more affordable. It may also be partially due to having more flexibility and adaptability in the way that we live and the way that we engage the community as Broward becomes more connected and dense. We foresee more of these deals for smaller units outside of the main urban areas making sense for investors. 

 

We are seeing more residential projects that want to permit themselves as or like a hotel. There is some gray area with the rise of services like Airbnb and WhyHotel that can allow owners to operate as a short-term rental while they’re leasing up their building. Owners and investors are starting to take advantage of this. This is shifting how we design our projects. For instance, if we need to design for things like ADA bathrooms, which you would find in a hotel, we are starting to look at an earlier stage how we might design the spaces to be more flexible to do this.

 

How have you seen Opportunity Zone legislation affect your business? 

 

We have seen an increase in requests for test fits on properties that fall in Opportunity Zones. The market is starting to ask questions on sites and locations that they hadn’t previously. There are a lot of regulations that are being finalized and released in the near future that are going to help increase investor confidence to go forward in these Opportunity Zones, but it may be too early to see the fruit of the test fits in these sites. We are expecting to see more of this in 2020. 

 

How much of a focus do you place on possible future changes to the National Flood Insurance Program? 

 

We are looking more broadly at what is happening with the National Flood Insurance Program and what may happen in the future in terms of how we go about flood insurance regarding how much of it is subsidized by taxpayers. At some point, taxpayers are going to say that they do not want to be subsidizing flood insurance for landowners who may not be doing enough to protect their buildings. As risk starts to shift from insurance entities to owners, they are going to be asked what they are doing to make their building more resilient. What we are trying to do with our integrated team is to find solutions to this so we can go back to our clients and suggest to them what they need to do to mitigate this risk. 

 

For more on our interviewee visit:

 

https://www.stantec.com/en

Spotlight On: Joseph Culley, Head of Capital Markets Group, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC

Spotlight On: Joseph Culley, Head of Capital Markets Group, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — An increase in high-net-worth investors, financial professionals moving back to the city and changes to organizational structures are some of the trends financial institutions are experiencing in Philadelphia. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC Head of Capital Markets Group Joseph Culley shared with Invest: some of the adjustments it has implemented amid the change in demographics and advances in technology.

What are some trends in Philadelphia’s financial sector?

 

We are starting to see more finance professionals leave cities like New York when they are at the age to start a family and coming back to Philadelphia. Although young talent retention has been a challenge, Philadelphians who moved to other cities after they graduated college are relocating back to the area. Our education system, arts and culture, transportation system, housing affordability and diverse environment are some of the drivers for residents.

 

What impact is technology having on banking?

 

The pace of change is happening more rapidly due to the disruption of technology in financial services. We have invested significantly in our technology platform and recently hired some of our first data scientists. Our company culture is starting to feel less like an investment firm and more like a technology firm. While we provide our client base with human experience and advice beyond investments, we are focusing on offering them more technological, mobile-friendly and artificial intelligence types of innovations and solutions.

 

What is the investment profile in Philadelphia?

 

We have seen an increase in high-net-worth investors coming to Philadelphia. We have significantly addressed the need we had for higher-end, condo-type properties that we lacked for years, and with that has come more international investment and out of state investment. One of our newer initiatives is focused on investment education and ways to provide more basic, fundamental knowledge about saving for retirement and investing.

 

What are some of the challenges facing financial institutions in today’s landscape?

 

The change in demographics is one of the challenges we are facing. Based on our internal projections, our workforce will be majority millennials within six years. That creates numerous opportunities for a firm like us to modernize and adjust. We recently made changes to our employee benefits, parental leave and dress code policies, based on feedback from our employee population. Organizational development and diversity and inclusion are some of the other areas we have been investing in due to these demographic and generational changes.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Janney Montgomery Scott LLC: https://www.janney.com/