Making the Olympic Argument with NAIOP: 2024 and Beyond

The following blog post was written by T.J Winick, Vice President at Solomon McCown & Company.

It’s only been about 50 days since the Elisif_20150224_0962United States Olympic Committee officially named Boston as America’s bid city for the 2024 Summer Olympics. Yet it was quite apparent at Tuesday morning’s NAIOP Massachusetts’ Breakfast Panel that Boston 2024 has settled on its pitch to the public: The quest to host the Games is all about “the future of Boston”. The phrase repeated over and over at the event (entitled 2024 Olympics: Vision, Opportunity and a Catalyst for Change) was “2030 and beyond.” As in, “This isn’t about those 30 days in the summer of 2024, it’s about what we want our city to look like in 2030 and beyond.”

Moderator Tom Alperin, President of National Development, remarked, “We can win by losing,” meaning that Boston will benefit from a fierce debate over infrastructure and sustainably whether we’re awarded the games or not. That sentiment was echoed by panelists Rich Davey, CEO of Boston 2024 and former Mass. Secretary of Transportation; David Manfredi of Elkus-Manfredi Architects; David Nagahiro of CBT Architects and Stephen Thomas of VHB. However, winning, as Manfredi noted, is the name of the game.

This was a coming out party of sorts for Davey, who was only recently named CEO of the effort to submit Boston’s bid to the International Olympic Committee. He’s pledging that ours would be a new type of Olympics: Sustainable, largely privately-financed with no cost overruns, and that leaves a positive legacy. He cited a quarter of a billion dollars in foundation grants that have been handed out by Los Angeles over the past 31 years, financed by their hosting the 1984 games. That’s the type of legacy the Boston Games would leave, Davey insists, not the fraud, waste and abuse the anti-Olympics crowd argues would cripple the region.

It was Manfredi’s presentation that focused on real estate: in this case, potential Olympic venues. One of the reasons Boston was chosen to represent America (over New York, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco) was the viability of hosting the most “walkable” Olympic Games in history, with 28 of the 33 proposed venues within a 10 kilometer radius and an average of 5.3 kilometers between each venue. The Olympic Village, which must house 16,000 individuals, would be built on Columbia Point, which is currently home to UMass Boston. About 5,000-6,000 of those beds would later become UMass student dorms, helping to satisfy the school’s goal of adding student residences. The remainder would be transformed into affordable and workforce housing, helping Mayor Walsh achieve his goal of 53,000 units of new housing by 2030.

David Nagahiro, whose firm CBT is focused on the village, underscored the concept of a sustainable games when he noted that, “UMass students are interchangeable with Olympic athletes” in benefitting from modern dorms and amenities overlooking Boston Harbor and the Harbor Islands. It’s this type of development that would help transform the University, typically thought of as a commuter school, into a more residential campus. Nagahiro, who recently visited London and Barcelona to speak with former Olympic officials there, gushed about long-term benefits enjoyed by the former Olympic hosts. Back in Boston, infrastructure improvements would also mean UMass students would enjoy a new transportation “Superhub” at the JFK-UMass Stop along the MBTA’s Red Line.

Moving 635,000 athletes, media, staff, volunteers and spectators between the city’s two Olympic “Clusters” (A Waterfront Cluster downtown and a University Cluster encompassing M.I.T., Harvard and B.U.) is Thomas’ and VHB’s domain. He insisted that Boston proves its ability to host multiple, massive events annually with the Boston Marathon and a morning Red Sox game every Patriots Day. While the MBTA is currently is crisis mode, everyone on the panel agreed that the T must be a catalyst for moving this bid forward and that public transportation is the key to economic opportunity and growth. While not as “sexy” as new train cars, Davey pointed out that signal and power systems, along with capacity improvements, would benefit Greater Boston long after the games are gone. The numbers being cited by Boston 2024 are $5 billion in transportation investment already underway and an additional $5 billion planned. However, some of those numbers were called into question in a Boston Globe article that came out the same morning as the panel.

In 2017, Boston will find out if its quest to host the games was successful. If it is, it could mean beach volleyball on the Boston Common and Olympic baseball at Fenway Park, not to mention more than 600,000 visitors to our city over a 30 day stretch. But for those looking to make the games a reality, clearly 2024 would be just the beginning.

Good to Great: Recommendations for the Baker Polito Administration

BakerPolitoCoverDuring the first week of January, NAIOP Massachusetts provided the Baker- Polito Administration (including select cabinet secretaries and commissioners) with the report, Good to Great: Recommendations for the Baker Polito Administration. The report is the result of significant input from NAIOP members and focuses on a wide range of ideas – big and small – affecting the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development (EOHED), the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) and transportation (MassDOT).

Over the course of the next few months, we will highlight one recommendation per week on this blog. Comments are encouraged! NAIOP looks forward to working with the new Administration to implement these recommendations and find new ways to encourage economic growth in Massachusetts.

EOHED: Establishing Economic Priorities & Initiatives
The Secretary of Housing & Economic Development should be the empowered advocate for the business community, both within the Cabinet and externally. Nearly all policies and regulations have an impact on the business community – including the businesses that are already located in Massachusetts, as well as those relocating to the Commonwealth. NAIOP urges the Baker Polito Administration to make the Secretary of Housing & Economic Development the vocal advocate for business interests through the following initiatives:

  • Work closely with the leading business trade groups to ensure the state is providing the kind of incentives and programs needed to foster broad-based growth, not simply those favored by the Administration (i.e., don’t pick winners, make decisions based on need).
  • Expand and strengthen the Regulatory Reform Initiative created in 2012, an Administration-wide regulatory reevaluation for all state agencies. Start by appointing a Regulatory Ombudsman and consider freezing any policies or regulations approved in the final 60 days of 2014.
  • Simplify the administration of all of the state’s business incentives and consolidate economic development agencies. The Baker Polito Administration should examine the current list of economic development agencies and quasi-publics and determine if there should be some consolidation. In addition, incentives should be coordinated and streamlined – too many agencies are overseeing incentives right now, resulting in confusion and missed opportunities for businesses.
  • Identify opportunities for privatization and public-private partnerships. There are numerous opportunities for privatization (e.g., transportation, water infrastructure, etc.) However, the “Pacheco” law makes it virtually impossible to actually do any of these. The Baker Polito Administration should consider a targeted “pilot” program to break through this problem, with EOHED taking a lead in advocating for such a concept.
  • Create incentive packages for start-ups. Most of the net job growth in the country is attributable to companies in operation five years or less. Many states are aggressively looking to attract and nurture start-ups (e.g. New York’s startup.ny.gov). Massachusetts, led by EOHED and working with organizations like the Cambridge Innovation Center, should consider strategies that provide the necessary ecosystem for start-ups within Massachusetts to thrive and grow into profitable companies. Concepts like “LabCentral,” a shared laboratory space designed as a launch-pad for high potential life sciences and biotech start-ups, could be expanded to most any of the industries in the state offering the space and resources start-ups need.
  • Identify ways to build on the Commonwealth’s innovation economy to strengthen and improve government services, while better serving the business community. Massachusetts leads the way in innovation. The many start-ups and globally recognized institutions like MIT and Harvard are an untapped resource for state government. Possible opportunities may exist for apps or innovation companies to improve services for Massachusetts residents and businesses.

Clear Those Rooftops

ROOFTOPWith one of the worst winters in history, businesses are at risk for serious structural damages and possible life safety, due to accumulating snow on large flat roof tops. Because rain and ice are expected in the coming days, efforts should be undertaken now to safely remove snow from roofs. The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety has issued the following recommendations:

Dangers Associated With Heavy Snow Loads on Roofs
Homeowners, tenants, and businesses need to be cognizant of the danger posed by  heavy snow loads on roofs, and the warning signs of potential structural weaknesses. In some instances, the risks posed by accumulated snow on roofs can be mitigated by safely removing snow from roofs of both commercial buildings and homes.

Removing snow from rooftops will minimize the likelihood of structural collapse. Flat and low pitched roofs, most often found on industrial buildings, but are also used in certain home designs, are at the greatest risk of buckling under heavy snow and ice accumulations. Lower roofs, where snow accumulates from higher roofs are also vulnerable.

How to Recognize Problems with Roofs
•         Sagging roofs
•         Severe roof leaks
•         Cracked or split wood members
•         Bends or ripples in supports
•         Cracks in walls or masonry
•         Sheared off screws from steel frames
•         Sprinkler heads that have dropped down below ceiling tiles
•         Doors that pop open
•         Doors or windows that are difficult to open
•         Bowed utility pipes or conduit attached at ceiling
•         Creaking, cracking or popping sounds

Other Safety Tips
•         Ice dams can cause major damage to a home or building. Ice dams occur after a heavy snowfall, followed by several days or even weeks of very cold weather.  An ice dam is a wall of ice that forms at the edge of the roof, usually at the gutters or soffit. When it forms, the water backs up behind the ice dams and creates a pool. This pool of water can leak into your home or business and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and other areas. DPS directs consumers to the WT Phalen Insurance web site for additional information and guidance about how to cope with ice dams.
•         Clear snow away from downspouts so water has a place to go.
•         Also, please remember to shovel-out fire hydrants in\around your area in case of emergency. See the Massachusetts Emergency Management web link below for additional information about winter and fire safety tips.  http://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/mema/

Tips for Businesses in Removing Snow and Ice from Roofs and Other Areas
•        If you are going to use a snow blower, make sure that it has been approved by a structural engineer to be used on a roof, and that the blower is set to a high level above the roof so as not to damage roof membrane.
•        Use a snow rake for pitched roofs (available at most hardware stores) to remove snow from your roof.
•         Start from the edge and work your way into the roof. Try to shave the snow down to a 2 or 3 inches on the roof instead of scraping the roof clean, which will risk damage to your shingles or other roof covering. Keep in mind that any metal tool could conduct electricity if it touches a power line. Also, metal tools will do more damage to your roof.
Shovel snow from flat roofs throwing the snow over the side away from the building.
Most plastic shovels are better, except for the ones with curved blades-those too will do some damage to your roof.
•        Keep gutters, downspouts and drains clean. Remove large icicles carefully if they’re hanging over doorways and walkways.
•        Wear protective headgear and goggles when performing any of these tasks.

How to Recognize Problems with Roofs in Commercial Buildings
•         Sagging roof steel – visually deformed
•         Severe roof leaks
•         Cracked or split wood members
•         Bends or ripples in metal supports
•         Cracks in walls or masonry
•         Cracks in welds of steel construction
•         Sheared off screws from steel frames
•         Sprinkler heads pushed down below ceiling tiles
•         Water puddles where it never has before
•         Doors that pop open
•         Doors or windows that are difficult to open
•         Bowed utility pipes or conduit attached at ceiling
•         Creaking, cracking or popping sounds

What to do if you have problems
•         Call your local building or fire official.
•         If there is imminent danger, evacuate the building and call 911.

What other assistance is available?
•         Many fire departments have regional technical rescue teams available to local departments in case of collapse.
•        Massachusetts Task Force 1 is an Urban Search and Rescue Team in Beverly. The team is comprised of Police, Fire, EMS and Civilians who respond to major disasters under a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Currently there are 150 people on the MATF-1 team.

Transportation in MA – Let’s Not Let A Good Crisis Go To Waste

MBTA SNOW 2The last 30 days have seen record snowfall for the Greater Boston area. The resulting impacts on commuters, businesses, and residents have been devastating. However, for some reason, the breakdown in our mass transit system has come as a surprise to many. Our transit system is in crisis and has been getting by for decades with aging equipment, poor maintenance, and declining performance ratings.

The problems go beyond the MBTA. Across the state, many bridges are closed, or have weight and lane restrictions, with many being off limits to emergency vehicles. Miles of roads need repairs and many regional bus systems have reduced schedules.

The state needs to create a road map to take us from the failures of today to a fully operating and maintained system, with sufficient capacity and quality of service for its customers. A top priority of our political leaders must be the purchase and placement into operation of new cars, signalization, switch heaters, and other maintenance and repair upgrades. The economic health of our Commonwealth is at risk with the status quo. The losses to businesses and employees, due directly to the MBTA’s current failures, is historic.

The public was lulled into the belief that our transit system, although not perfect, could continue to serve commuters and business for many years without any serious lapses. No one is under that illusion anymore. Now is the time for clarity of purpose and a serious plan to provide the citizens of this Commonwealth the first class system they deserve.

NAIOP Corporate Presents Chapter Executive of the Year Award to Reesa Fischer

Reesa_AwardLast night, at the annual national Chapter Leadership & Legislative Retreat in Washington, DC, NAIOP Corporate presented the Chapter Executive of the Year Award to Reesa Fischer, Chief Operating Officer of NAIOP Massachusetts.

Reesa was selected based on her commitment to ensuring NAIOP Massachusetts responds to the constantly changing needs of its members through the creation of a wide range of networking and educational opportunities and member benefits.

Reesa works closely with the Chapter’s Education and Program Committees to ensure that NAIOP is frequently the first organization to tackle the topics that matter most to the industry. She has worked tirelessly to offer over 45 diverse programming opportunities – ranging from breakfast programs with 400+ attendees to smaller networking opportunities.

In addition, Reesa makes an extraordinary effort to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation and technology. She managed the launch of a mobile-friendly website and a new mobile event app. Reesa is passionate about social media and has successfully used it to increase press mentions, engage industry professionals and provide valuable (and informative) content.

In giving the award, the presenter said that “our winner this year has excelled in all aspects of chapter leadership and is credited with her strategic vision, innovation, creativity and leadership”. As a result, NAIOP Massachusetts remains the largest Chapter in the nation. The organization is fortunate to have her.

Congratulations Reesa!

NAIOP Massachusetts Announces 2015 Board Management Committee

marsh-loeberNAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, has announced that it has named its 2015 Board Management Committee, led by Chairwoman (and 2014 President) Marci Loeber of Griffith Properties and President Steve Marsh of MIT Investment Management Company. The Committee oversees the Chapter’s Board of Directors.

Incoming President Steve Marsh is Managing Director of Real Estate for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Investment Management Company, where he manages over $1.5 billion in real estate investments. Steve is overseeing development in Cambridge’s Kendall Square, the model of a successful business/government/academic development plan and collaboration. While his chief responsibility involves the creation and maintenance of value for the Institute’s endowment and pension funds, his responsibilities extend to all aspects of real estate investment, acquisition, development, disposition and portfolio management activities relating to these portfolios.

“We are thrilled to have a strong and decisive leader like Steve, with his institutional knowledge and insight into the Commonwealth’s commercial real estate industry, as one of our leading voices,” said David Begelfer, CEO of NAIOP Massachusetts. “With Steve and Marci setting our 2015 agenda, our chapter will continually evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of our members.”

Joining Loeber and Marsh on the Board Management Committee are Past Chairs, Brian Kavoogian of Charles River Realty Investors, Paul Marcus of Marcus Partners and Tom DeSimone of WS Development as well as President-Elect Dennis Clarke of Cummings Properties, Secretary Ed Marsteiner of National Development and Treasurer Doug Karp of New England Development

NAIOP Massachusetts also announced new additions to its leadership with the 2015 Nominees to the Chapter’s Board of Directors. Kimberly Sherman Stamler, Chief Operating Officer at Related Beal and Sara Shank, Managing Director at Beacon Capital Partners, both rising leaders in Boston’s real estate community, will join the Board this year.

Thank You Governor Patrick

Deval_PatrickAfter eight years of leadership, later today Governor Patrick will take the Lone Walk and return to the private sector. In addition to the fact that during the past 100 years only one other governor of Massachusetts (Dukakis) has served the Commonwealth for eight uninterrupted years, Governor Patrick leaves behind a long list of accomplishments that have made Massachusetts a better place to live and work.

The Governor was one of the best salesmen/spokesmen for the Commonwealth that we have had in recent history. He traveled across the state and to numerous countries on trade missions. Having joined him on the mission to Israel, I can personally attest to the positive reactions he received from countless encounters with political leaders and business representatives. Many business partnerships have resulted from these missions and we have never seen such a spike in direct flights to and from Boston and many global markets.

The Patrick Administration supported business growth, with a particular focus on the life sciences and renewable energy sectors. This resulted in a substantial surge in employment growth, making Massachusetts a national leader in these emerging fields.

Governor Patrick also oversaw one of the first top-to-bottom regulatory reevaluations for all state agencies. Nearly 2,000 regulations were reviewed to determine which regulations should be rescinded or modified. In addition to this review, a system was put into place requiring that draft regulations go through an extensive vetting process and review by A&F, the Regulatory Ombudsman, and lastly, the Governor. As a result, MassDEP led the way on regulatory reform by establishing a target list of 21 different reforms within the Department. Most of these resulted in regulatory changes that will make a substantial improvement on the cost and time for the regulated community, without diminishing environmental protection.

While Governor Patrick worked to ensure government operated at “the speed of business,” he also never lost sight of the fact that he represented all of the citizens of the Commonwealth. People mattered to him and he learned from their stories. Their experiences shaped his leadership and policy priorities. Today’s column in The Boston Globe by Shirley Leung is a perfect example of this.

So, after eight years, we thank you Governor Patrick for your unwavering commitment to the people of Massachusetts and we wish you all the best in whatever the future may hold.