In another successful outing of the highly educational Real Estate 101 series, ULI and Studio Theater were pleased to host “P3: You, Me and D.C.” Approximately 200 attendees gathered to hear from major leaders from Private and Public Industries about the formation, benefits and intangibles of the Public-Private Partnership model for Real Estate Development. Speakers Brian Kenner, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development for the District of Columbia, and Sean Cahill, Vice President of Development at Property Group Partners, treated the audience to a candid conversation about their prospective motivations, goals and obstacles to getting the deal done.
The discussion opened with an overview of each panelist’s story and a brief summary of the function of their prospective organization’s role in these type of projects. The Deputy Mayor started by detailing the function of his office’s role in Real Estate Development, stressing the three goals of creating jobs for District residents, creating Affordable Housing and increasing tax revenue. A D.C. native himself, DM Kenner stressed how important it is for the City to eliminate economic issues such as food desserts and lack of affordable housing; the best way using the RFP process to allow private industry the creativity to present projects that work financially for the developer and satisfy the community. Mr. Cahill then took over giving a history of Property Group Partners long history in the D.C. area starting as Louis Dreyfus and ultimately transitioning to a multi-city operation with a special emphasis on high profile projects in growing major cities including D.C. Both gentleman expressed an admiration for how the other party persevered through the lengthy complicated project over I-395 near Union Station called Capitol Crossing. Using the project as a textbook example, both men walked the audience through the risk-reward scenario and how each step required compromise focused on an end goal with tremendous benefit to both parties.
Following the discussion, the event proceeded to an interactive Q&A session between the panelists and the attendees. Panelists answered questions about how to best deal with sensitive political issues, the selection process, particular financing for a project where the return is delayed, and how to sustain a project through changing mayoral administrations. The panelists provided very candid answers, unveiling an arduous process and re-iterated (using a frequent reference from the Oscar nominated movie “The Martian”) that you have to break down each problem and use the most logical way out.
Following the presentation, attendees had a chance to ask questions in a one-on-one setting while networking with their peers at Stoney’s near the Studio Theater.