A Closer Look into John Coe’s ULI Washington Mentor Group
After meeting John Coe at the ULI Young Leaders happy hour last September to kick-off 2018-2019, ULI YLG Mentorship program, our recently acquainted Mentor Group had no concept of the opportunity and thought leadership that he would expose to us over the coming year. John mentioned that he took his role as a Mentor seriously and if we wanted to make the most out of our experience, he would do everything in his power to set site visits and meetings with the Real Estate leaders in the DC Metro area. After taking a survey with the goal of reaching a “Top Ten” list of prospective meetings, I’m not sure we really grasped what he meant. However, driven to become more knowledgeable about Real Estate financing, markets, development and sustainable building, our group quickly decided that we wanted to make the most YLG Mentorship program. As a testament to the program and John, we have curated below a summary of all that we accomplished over the past year.
The first event our team scheduled was a tour of the recently renovated, American Geophysical Union building. On Tuesday, November 3rd Thomas Rayburn of Skanska and Roger Frechette of Interface Engineering were kind enough to show us the project and explain to us how the building is representation the AGU’s mission and the building sets a new threshold for sustainable building in DC. Built to empower the AGU’s mission of “science for the benefit of humanity,” the redesign boasts extreme efficiency and innovation. As the first “Net Zero,” building in DC, all systems are designed so the total amount of energy used each year is less than or equal to the amount of energy created onsite. This means that not only does this building function as the headquarters of YLG, but also a renewable energy powerhouse, where energy is harvested from the D.C. sewer system and photovoltaic panels. Although the property makes no economic sense, the purpose of this project is to represent the future of sustainable building and demonstrates the power that innovation can bring to general building to provide wonderful spaces to be with minimal damage to the environment.
Our second event took place on November 12th, 2018 and we were invited by Taylor Chess (Peterson Companies) to join his Mentor Group to tour the Peterson Companies’ recent development, Commonwealth Center. Taylor graciously hosted us at the recently completed Top Golf and while practicing our swing and enjoy delicious refreshments, our groups engaging in a thoughtful discussion about entertainment focused retail development and demand of land in the Ashburn area for technology companies. The team at Peterson walked us through the project, its various challenges and the thought process behind assembling a retail project today that has staying power for years to come.
Subsequently, the Peterson Companies hosted multiple ULI Mentor Groups on December 17th at National Harbor, the massive mixed-use project that was unprecedented for Prince George’s County. The project ran into multiple challenges due to its development coinciding with a turbulent market cycle. They walked through their ability to be flexible and pivot off of some ideas that may have worked 10-15 years ago to re merchandise the project into what it has become today. Additionally, we were able to tour their new Haven condo development and network over some dinner and drinks.
On January 16th, John Coe, along with Dan Hardwick of Cozen O’Connor, led a presentation on the various types of debt and equity capital available for real estate acquisitions and development. The discussion included where each source typically falls on the capital stack (their relative amount of risk tolerance), what types of projects are most likely to use each source, and sample sources and uses tables.
Our mentor group toured 2100 K Street, NW on February 13th, hosted by Steve Lustgarten and the Blake Real Estate team. The renovation—developed by Blake and constructed by Davis Construction—would be a major addition to the existing International Finance Corporation building, expanding out from 2120 K Street, NW next door. 2100 K features a massive cantilever on the west side of the building that reaches over an alleyway and connects to 2120 K, providing an expanded floor plate keeping the entire IFC team unified in one space as if it were part of the original structure. After the tour, the group convened at Blake’s recently renovated headquarters at 1150 Connecticut Ave., NW for a lively discussion of Blake Real Estate’s legacy in Washington and Steve’s illustrious career.
In March, ULI Team members met with Gary Rappaport to tour Avec on H Street; one of Rappaport’s two mixed use multi-family developments. The project is a substantial mixed use project with ground floor retail covering two city blocks topped by 400+ apartment units. The Rappaport Company partnered with W.C. Smith to develop and construct the project. Gary shared his professional and life story with the team, and led a round table discussion and Q&A session. Gary was unique in that he will only work with investors who he is comfortable with. He still reads every contract on all of his company’s deals. Very detail oriented guy.
On April 11, three ULI YLG Mentor Groups gathered at 1615 L St NW to learn about Carr Properties, a privately held real estate investment trust that owns, manages, acquires, and develops top-of-class properties in DC/MD/VA region and Boston, Massachusetts. We were hosted by Oliver Carr, Carr Properties’ Chief Executive Office, who personally led the discussion about the firm’s history and current endeavors. We first discussed the recent renovation of the 1615 L office building where the firm is headquartered and reflected about how today’s office environment is a model based on hospitality, centered around service, connection, and design excellence. Following the firm overview, we toured Midtown Center, the former Washington Post headquarters, that is now the headquarters for Fannie Mae. Designed by ShoP Architects, Midtown Center serves as a downtown catalyst, setting a new standard for first-class offices in Washington, D.C. The LEED gold building features a public courtyard, 8000 SF fitness facility, state of the art penthouse conference centers, and a full-height rooftop.
For the final group session, John coordinated a presentation called “The Development Process” which addressed a project through the entire pre-construction development process from the concept to ground breaking. Taylor Chess of Peterson Companies led the discussion with illustrations of projects using Peterson Companies’ process of sourcing, analyzing and due diligence for several of their land development and retail projects. Supplementing his presentation, Dan Hardwick and his partner, Meridith Moldenhauer, of Cozen O’Connor presented both the transactional and land use legal perspectives to the development process. John Coe moderated the group and interjected the capital aspects that facilitate the project feasibility. ULI Washington has a copy of the slide presentation, if interested in reviewing.
It’s been an unbelievable year and we’d like to thank John Coe, ULI Washington DC and all the real estate professionals who took the time to meet with us over this past year. The ULI YLG is an incredible program that we hope will continue to inspire young real estate professionals in the future as it did for us this year!