While traveling on holiday, it struck me that when a person works in commercial real estate, they don’t look at the cities they visit in the same way that typical tourists do. Our recent vacation spanned a couple cities and we were very curious to talk with the locals—not about the points of interest (though we did visit those places!)—but about the construction and cranes we saw everywhere.
In Dubin, we were interested to hear that there has been an increase in young people leaving rural communities to head to the city looking for better opportunities. We could see five cranes from our hotel balcony and many more around the city. Looking around the various parts of the city with the gorgeous Irish mountains as a backdrop, you could see cranes tackling a variety of projects, both new development and adaptive reuse. One local told us that Dublin was just coming back from the recession of 2008. It took much longer there than in many U.S. cities. Their current development is making up for the lack of it in recent years.
When we arrived in London, our first reaction was amazement at the amount of development we saw. Again, not typical tourists! We were further amazed by the fact they were building in nooks and crannies. Some of the spaces being developed were in really tight spots between historic buildings and other skyscrapers. A little-known fact about development in London is that no building can impede the site line of St. Paul’s Cathedral, a landmark that was saved during World War II through Winston Churchill’s declaration that the church shall not be lost during the blitz. Many volunteers watched over the great church.
I counted at least 32 cranes around the greater London area, and there may have been more! In terms of placemaking, this historic city has so many lovely neighborhoods all with personalities of their own. We learned that the actual city of London is a very small two-mile area that includes only about 12,000 residents. However, approximately 330,000 people commute into the city of London (mainly the financial district) for work. There’s a good deal of multifamily going up just outside the city lines and along the Thames River as well.
One unique development feature we saw was a digital viewer under a construction scaffolding walkway that showed a video of how the building was being built.
In looking at the robust development, it made me wonder, who will fill all that space? But the city is bustling still. Even though Brexit was a much discussed topic among Londoners we met, most do not think it will hurt the growth of the city.
It was great to catch up with the leadership of CREW UK while there. They continue to be enthusiastic about building their global affiliate group and connecting through the vast CREW Network.
Later this week, I head to Houston for one of the most important tasks for CREW Network volunteers serving on the Nominating Committee. Selecting the CREW Network board members to help lead the organization into the future is one of the most critical roles for this group of volunteers. With so many well-qualified candidates in our ranks, they will have a lengthy discussion, taking into consideration all aspects of the organization’s strategic direction, skills needed, field represented and much more. Under Laurie Baker’s leadership (Immediate Past President of CREW Network and Senior Vice President at Camden), the committee will be diligent and thoughtful in their work.
See you on the road!
Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.
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