Five buzzwords from the ULI Fall Meeting

Every industry has its buzzwords. Put 6,000 real estate leaders in a room together and the biggest ideas rise to the top

At the recent ULI Fall Meeting, buzzwords were flying fast and furiously. Now that the dust has cleared on the conference, it’s time to figure out what they mean for New York.


  1. “Millennials”
    They’re all we can talk about right now! Prepare for a “war for talent” as 50% of the workforce will be millennials by 2020. From student debt to tech startups, this generation is part of every conversation from design to finance. Millennials are making waves and we are building for millennials. Unfortunately, panelists largely avoided the question of whether millennials can actually afford all these new residential or hospitality developments. Or even, what specific product adjustments need to be made to suit the millennial lifestyle.
  2. “Household Creation”
    The moment when you settle down, have kids and acquire a white picket fence and dog? That’s household creation. Household creation is a great determinant in whether people want to live in the city or suburbs. The “Changing Face of Residential” panel acknowledged that millennials might be drawn to the suburbs with accessible transit into the city for cheaper rents and better, affordable schools. Household creation is on the decline, thanks to millennials! The marriage rate is declining as student debt rises – meaning more people are renting with roommates and delaying household creation.
  3. “Tech”
    Startups, millennials and technology are tightly intertwined. As millennials flood the workplace, tech is booming, from iPad apps for brokers to tech companies dominating the commercial market. A recent Bisnow article pointed out that there are 800 TAMI (tech, advertising, media, information) companies in Downtown alone. On the marketing side, companies and properties want to distinguish themselves from the competition by being “technologically better.” ULI featured companies such as Floored, WiredScore, Honest Buildings and Hightower that are transforming the way real estate companies do business through open leasing data, 3D modeling on the web and real time data and predictive modeling for new developments. Phew!
  4. “Affordable Housing”
    Mayor DeBlasio’s goal of 200,000 units of affordable housing to accommodate 500,000 people, is more than the population of Atlanta, GA. With land prices and construction costs climbing, a successful balance sheet is harder to achieve than ever before for rental buildings. Add in affordable housing, and developers are skeptical. One panelist begged the question: Why are we building so much affordable housing in Manhattan, if people want to continue to live in other boroughs?
  5. “The Time is Now”
    Mayor DeBlasio opened the conference by saying “The time is now for New York City.” We are in a commercial boom, have a blossoming small business market (200,000 companies to date), offer 4 million jobs and put affordable housing first. Later discussions echoed the boomtown theme with a confluence of startups, tech and attractive real estate creating the ideal opportunity for attracting great talent and companies.



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