The 2013 meeting of the National Multi-housing Council in Palm Springs just ended, amid the specter of packed conference rooms, a multitude of free flowing cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and more parties than one could conceivably attend, though I tried my best. Cocktails and memory are archenemies, and ultimately the vistas began to look eerily similar, perhaps because of a visit through a different door. The magic of the attendee badge essentially assures that all are on a level playing field—high-level executives standing aside new entrants to the profession. In many ways, the NMHC conference serves more than any other to incubate new ideas, ones that ultimately become the future of the rental ideology.
There’s one observation that I do find worthy of note, and that’s the renewed urbanization of city centers and intra-urban corridors. Far from the architectural practice of building the future on the misjudgments of the past, this meeting and the new properties coming online for lease up all share many of the same characteristics that built cities over 100 years ago: A sense of purpose, a sense of place and the opportunity to create a community.
Some of the best developers in the industry, Bozzuto and Kettler on the east coast, and Holland and BRE on the west, are creating major destinations in locations that superbly fit the needs of urban dwellers. This sense of going back to the concepts that made cities great and promoted growth now imbue the multifamily industry with rich purpose and the ability to make a grand statement (thank you, Mark Humphreys). I do believe, as Asimov said, “there was nothing to carry one away.” When you no longer need a car to get what you want, we’ve finally reached the apex of melding purpose with place. And that’s something to be proud of.
Jack Kern is the research editor of Multi-Housing News and Commercial Property Executive. Jack recently taught Jessica Fiur how to sing in two-part harmony*, a good skill to have as the industry becomes more entertainment oriented.
*Note from Jessica Fiur: Still a little off-key, but I’ve perfected my jazz hands.