Navigating the Permitting Maze Course Highlights Continuing Education and Association’s Advocacy

On September 21 and 28, NAIOP Massachusetts University presented Navigating the Permitting Maze: A Crash Course in Environmental Permitting to 40+ students from a range of backgrounds looking to master real estate permitting fundamentals in Massachusetts. This course, led by VHB instructors and complemented by several industry experts and panelists, centered on introducing permitting basics, including development of an early permitting strategy and timeline with colleagues and state and local regulators, as well as more complex issues, such as transportation analyses, historical property concerns, climate resiliency, appeals, and much more.

Not only did this course provide valuable education for new and continuing real estate professionals, it made connections to NAIOP members’ experience with advocacy at the legislative, regulatory, and judicial level.

Basics of Environmental Permitting, and Trends from State and Local Directors

During the first day, students started the morning with sessions led by Kyle Greaves and Lauren DeVoe of VHB, on the Massachusetts Environmental Permitting Act office (MEPA) review process which coordinates public review of a development’s environmental impacts. Next, students received instruction on the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Article 80 regulations and process. Over the last five years, MEPA has analyzed about 1,300 large developments, with the majority (60%) culminating the review process with an Environmental Notification Form, and the remainder split between needing an Environmental Impact Report or a more in-depth process. For developments in Boston, Jonathan Greeley, Director at BPDA, which has approved over 11 million square feet for development in 2018 alone, emphasized that successful projects start with community outreach early in the process. Jonathan served on a trends in development panel with MEPA Director Deidre Buckley and moderator Greg Peterson of Casner & Edwards LLP during day one of the course.

greeleypresentsIMG_0504-cropJonathan Greeley, Director at Boston Planning & Development Agency

Permit Extension Act Protects Developments During Great Recession

Mary Marshall, Partner at Nutter McClennen & Fish, presented the final session on Day 1 on the Post Entitlement Permitting Stage. Mary made a connection between NAIOP’s legislative advocacy and environmental permitting, stating that during the recession, when many developments stalled due to the economy and financing, NAIOP formulated the Permit Extension Act, which was signed in 2010 by Governor Patrick (and expanded in 2012) to allow projects to maintain permits so that they could be “shovel-ready” when the market improved – avoiding several years spent reapplying for permits. Tamara Small, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, added that a more recent advocacy connection with permitting is that NAIOP successfully changed the railroad-right-of-way statute in the 2018 economic development bill signed by Governor Baker this August. This means that developers will have more clarity about whether and when they must coordinate with MassDOT on building on former railroad rights of way.

Commercial Real Estate Professionals Advocating for Industry

On the second day of the course, individual sessions were designed for “deep-dives” into more technical areas. Jamie Fay, a waterfront planning expert at Fort Point Associates, a TetraTech company, led a session on the Massachusetts waterfront planning Act (Chapter 91) and how it affects development. Jamie is an active member of NAIOP’s government affairs committee and served as an advocate for reasonable regulation of the waterfront when the legislature worked on the issue and passed legislation in 2007 — and in the years following, as the Department of Environmental Protection promulgated regulations. New developments like Clippership Wharf and Encore Boston Harbor are subject to Chapter 91 rules. Stephanie Kruel, a climate resiliency planning expert at VHB, walked through climate resiliency checklists and analysis during the project planning phases. Stephanie serves as co-chair of NAIOP’s climate resiliency committee – a subcommittee of the government affairs committee.

To bring the areas of waterfront issues, historic resources issues, climate resiliency and environmental permitting together in a real-life example, the course ended with a project spotlight and panel presentation by four individuals from the General Electric Innovation Point team: Elizabeth Grob, VHB, Jeff Porter, Mintz Levin, Peter Cavanaugh, GE and Todd Dundon, Gensler.

GEpanel4IMG_0529-cropJeff Porter (Mintz Levin) moderates Project Spotlight Panel on GE Innovation Point joined by Peter Cavanaugh (GE), Elizabeth Grob (VHB) and Todd Dundon (Gensler)

NAIOP would like to thank all of the many experts whose time and energy made this course such a success. Due to popular demand, the permitting course will return in 2019.

Make sure to check out all of the NAIOP Massachusetts University offerings including the upcoming Real Estate Finance Fundamentals course on October 26, 2018. Have ideas on other courses NAIOP could offer? Let us know!



6 Steps to Building a Career in Commercial Real Estate

100_0642On February 24th, NAIOP Massachusetts hosted a career panel where dynamic young professionals from the Developing Leaders program offered helpful advice on how to jumpstart or further a career in Commercial Real Estate. Speakers included Molly Davis, Associate Director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank; Katie Grimes, Business Development Associate at Red Thread; Chris LaFrance, Associate Director of Acquisitions at Intercontinental Real Estate Corp.; Tucker McCrabb, Research Analyst at AEW Capital Management; Jennifer Price, Assistant Vice President at Colliers International; and Sarah Weatherbee Walker, Senior Director at Keller Augusta Partners, who moderated the program.

100_0652At the event, Keller Augusta Partners shared these tips below for college students who are interested in a career in Commercial Real Estate.

The Commercial Real Estate industry is very competitive. Successful candidates must be able to demonstrate experience and interest in the CRE field early and often. Here are some helpful ways to break into the industry:

  1. Coursework
    • Be sure to do exceptionally well in real estate classes (impress your professors!) and maintain high GPA
    • Highlight significant projects or case work from your courses on your resume
  1. Internships
    • Full time summer positions
    • Part-time /semester opportunities
    • Contract work
  1. Industry Professional Organizations
    • Seek out a student membership or student rate for attending events
    • Join committees to make more meaningful connections, don’t just attend events
  1. Leadership Roles within On-Campus Organizations
    • The event planning process is a great reason to reach out to industry professionals
    • This becomes an excellent resume talking point
    • If your school doesn’t have a group, create one!
  1. Networking
    • Utilize your Alumni, Personal & Professional network to build up your industry contacts
    • Be specific about your job search & career objectives during networking/outreach conversations
    • People want to help but being vague puts more work on them
    • Create your 2-minute elevator speech and practice it!
  1. Skills
    • Academic performance (GPA/Test Scores) is highly regarded at top firms
    • Strong emphasis on quantitative skills across many positions

100_0659Below are some additional resources available from NAIOP Massachusetts.

Student Association Membership (SAM) program
Open to any full-time student who is not otherwise employed in the industrial, office, multifamily, mixed-use or related commercial real estate industry. Must present a valid school ID and current full-time schedule.

Benefits include: free admission to networking events and educational programs, opportunities to meet industry leaders and decision makers, access to NAIOP’s national database, special Student Association Membership (SAM) Career Dinners and informational interviews.

University Membership
Available to colleges and universities offering undergraduate programs in real estate and includes up to 25 student memberships.

NAIOP Massachusetts Job Board
Includes full-time jobs and internships. Open to all, NAIOP Members can post jobs for free.

100_0657View all photos from the event.

We Need Jobs, But Also Skilled Workers

computer_handsThe Boston Globe recently reported that “the state’s tech sector is growing fast, but a shortage of qualified workers is preventing Massachusetts from becoming the capital of the nation’s innovation economy”, according to the 2014 State of Technology Report released by the Mass Technology Leadership Council. “Creating the jobs isn’t the hard part – filling them is the hard part,” said Tom Hopcroft, chief executive of MassTLC. “We can’t find enough people with the skills to fill all of these tech jobs.”

These are not the only types of jobs that remain open according to this Boston Globe graphic, which shows that it is not just the high end tech jobs that are having trouble finding workers.

So, what is worse – not having the jobs, or not being able to provide the workers for those companies that are expanding? It should be the former.  Trying to create new jobs is not only difficult, but there is actually no proven way to do it.  If what we have is a gap in training, or the proper transportation to access trained workers, we should be able to remedy that.

Local and state government should be partnering with local community colleges, vocational schools, and universities to work directly with those businesses that are fortunate enough to be growing and hiring.  If we don’t fix this imbalance expeditiously, we may have bigger problems.  Companies will begin expanding elsewhere and, then not having any local jobs to fill would be a lot worse.

Four New Tools for Real Estate Marketers

Monday’s program on Jumpstart Your Marketing included a wealth of ideas and examples of how to navigate the modern marketing mix, including new approaches to websites, how to select the right social media platform for the job, and knowing when to let the product speak for itself. Among the case studies and client examples, the speakers shared a handful of resources guaranteed to help marketers make better use of their time, get a new perspective on their work, and reach their target audience.

Here are four new tools CRE marketers should know about:

Speakers at NAIOP's Jumpstart Your Marketing program (l-r): Susan Shelby, Mo Doerr, Diane Danielson, Steve Steinberg, Tina Snyder

  • HootSuite – One of the best tools to automate and organize social media, HootSuite allows you to post once on multiple channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and others), as well as scheduling tweets, retweeting, and tracking. As Diane Danielson said “This allows me to write once and publish twice!” We use the service as well, and have found it invaluable for managing NAIOP’s social media efforts.
  • Texting To SellTina Snyder, speaking with colleague Steve Steinberg, shared this cost-effective way to generate leads from property signage. A call to action is displayed asking passers-by to text a unique Mobile ID, after which they instantly receive two text messages back: The first shows pictures and listing details for that property, the second provides contact info with an option to receive an immediate call back. Each time a property’s unique Mobile ID is texted, you receive an alert with your prospect’s contact information. It’s a simple, effective and low cost option to generate leads!
  • Guts: Advertising from the Inside Out, by John Lyons: A classic how-to book recommended by Mo Doerr, who raved about the author’s provocative approach to strategy.  One of her favorite quotes: “Have teeth, will bite. A strategy is a carefully designed plot to murder the competition. Any idea that makes your competition hate you, cry foul, or quietly invoke Chapter 11 qualifies.” (currently out of print, but still available online)
  • Facebook –Facebook isn’t new, but what many don’t realize is that it has greater customization options than may be obvious. Diane used the landing page for SouthField as an example, showing how, through careful use of custom tabs and graphics, they were able to fully brand their Facebook Page, keeping it tightly integrated with the rest of the SouthField marketing materials.

These are just a few of the tools available to today’s marketing professional – what are your favorites? Is there a tool you can’t live without, or one you wish you’d never wasted your time on? Let us know – comment today!

Get the Most Out of Membership: 5 Tips for You and Your Firm

Everyone knows effective networking is a key to continued business success, personally and for your company.  It is through the cultivation of long-term business relationships that existing business expands and new opportunities open up.

One of the best opportunities to network with peers and potential clients is by being an active member of one or more trade associations.  There is an association for almost every niche, locally and nationally, and beyond networking , they offer many other benefits including seminars, workshops, social events, and issue advocacy.

NAIOP at Night, a popular networking event

But just joining an association is not enough. To get a good return on your investment, follow these five tips to building relationships through associations:

1.  Join the right organizations for you.  There is probably more than one association you should consider. Go beyond the obvious and think about who you want to network with.  If you are an attorney, of course you will benefit from learning and sharing with your fellow lawyers, but you won’t get nearly as many business leads as from a group that represents your target industry (which is why so many top real estate lawyers belong to NAIOP.) Find out from friends and colleagues who the association’s members are, and ask yourself if those are the people you need to be developing relationships with. If so, then join!

2.  Participate.  Just being listed as a member of an organization has limited benefits – you must get involved to reap the full value of your membership.  Get started  by attending  programs and introducing yourself,  especially once you’re seated at a table (and don’t always sit with people you already know!)  Remember, you are there to get to know people and for them to get to know you.  Like any kind of relationship building, don’t race to the “finish line” and don’t use these meetings as selling opportunities.  But do come prepared with business cards and be ready to share a clear, concise, and brief description of what you do.

3.  Join a Committee. The gold mine of networking is within the association’s committee structure.  Organizations are always looking for members to volunteer on their many committees, such as program, membership, government affairs, social, and charitable events. There is no better way to get to know others and develop business contacts than by working with them on a common goal.  It’s enjoyable and you get to contribute your ideas and see their effect. (Learn more about NAIOP’s committees)

Networking at NAIOP's 2010 Bus Tour

4.  Speak up!  Talk to people at programs and events.  If there are coffee breaks, discuss the subject matter of the educational event.  Best kept secret for networking: while listening to the presentation, prepare a relevant question for the speakers if there is a Q&A period.  Often no one is ready to ask the first  question, so stand up, say your name and company and ask away.  It’s a  great way to get noticed.

5.  Get on the leadership track.  Once you have a better knowledge of the association and have sampled some of their committees, consider becoming a part of the volunteer leadership.  Choose a committee you have a strong interest in and where you feel you can contribute.  Make a commitment to attend regularly and to consistently contribute to the group in some way, whether it be suggesting program ideas, finding speakers, hosting meetings, recruiting new members, etc. Organizations promote from within and generally choose those members that show leadership qualities.

Bottom line: Join, participate, and enjoy; the benefits will come your way.

Gerald Hines’ Five Principles of Success

Gerald Hines

At MIT’s Center for Real Estate’s 25th anniversary graduation weekend, Gerald D. Hines gave the keynote address sharing his five principles of success. (Gerald is founder and CEO of Houston-based Hines, one of the largest and most respected real estate investment, development and management firms in the world.)

For anyone involved in development or looking to understand what it takes to be a successful, world class developer, read on:

  1. Create Quality Architecture. Hines’ love affair with great architecture is the stuff of legend. Long ago he made a commitment to collaborate with great architects — prominent architects such as I. M. Pei, Philip Johnson, Cesar Pelli, Frank Gehry, and Robert A. M. Stern have all worked with Hines. He urged the audience to build “something that endures.” 
  2. Commit to Sustainability. In the Hines lexicon, sustainability means two things. First, it refers to the durability of the buildings. Second, sustainability reflects the flexibility built into the design and construction of buildings. Hines is a leader in the EPA’s Energy Star program.
  3. Opportunities Exist in Acquiring Buildings – But Make Sure You Can Add Value. “You have to know when the cycle is at the top,” he said. “When you can borrow all the equity, it’s time to sell.”
  4. Mixed Use Developments Promote Better Communities and Also Lower Risk. Hines showcases prominent developments that exemplify the advantages of mixed use, all of which incorporate a range of uses, including offices, retail, hotels and condominiums.
  5. Human Talents Are Hidden Assets. Hines’ management structure is decidedly lean. Below a handful of very senior executives, other company leaders are compensated through 50 percent equity in the projects they are working on, not in the company as a whole. This arrangement reduces company risk while empowering the leaders and inspiring them to do their best work. 

To view Gerald Hines entire talk, please click here.
To learn more about the MIT Center for Real Estate, click here.
To learn more about Gerald Hines and his firm, click here.

How to Become a Woman of Influence in Boston Real Estate

This post was written by NAIOP member Diane K. Danielson, a consultant who works with clients to incorporate social media into their traditional marketing and business development plans.

On Nov. 2nd, over 100 women packed into Goulston & Storrs to hear from several of Boston real estate’s “Women of Influence.” The panelists and moderator (see photo) shared stories, tips and thoughts about what it takes to rise to the top in commercial real estate.

(l-r) Amanda Strong, Marty Jones, Lisa Brothers, Marilyn Sticklor, and Sarah Abrams (bios below)

I’ve been working outside of the real estate industry for a little over five years and this was the first opportunity I had to gauge if anything had changed in my absence. Based on what I heard at the panel, it was clear that commercial real estate in Boston remains male-dominated, but discussions about gender in the workplace have, in fact, progressed. Here are a few observations I made – if you have your own, please share them in the comments.

  1. The panel consisted of four women who were presidents of major companies and/or national industry organizations. Finding this many women in these positions would have been a bit harder 5-10 years ago.
  2. When asked about life balance, no one shied away from the question or denied it was an issue. Their response: It’s hard. You’ll feel like you’re neglecting your family and your job. However, it’s up to you to decide how open you are about your non-work life in the office. It’s also up to the women and men in top management to set the example if they want a friendly work/life environment.
  3. Avoid carrying around a career killing chip on your shoulder. Yes, sexism does still happen, but it’s like any other obstacle in your career path, you have the power to either overcome it or succumb to it.
  4. Do the math. There is no part of commercial real estate that doesn’t involve finance. Learn the numbers even if you are in marketing or human resources. If you need to boost your understanding in this area, there are great educational institutions out there that can help you and your career.
  5. Stop sitting around waiting to get noticed. This was by far the most troubling part of the panel for me because I had assumed this would be a non-issue by now. Yet it seems that women still play the “good girl,” work hard, and don’t adequately self-promote. As a result, they are less likely to have “sponsors” in the office, i.e. individuals who will go out on a limb on their behalf. (Sponsors are more crucial than mentors for making it to the top, but that’s fodder for a whole other post.)

Perhaps my favorite highlight was when Sarah Abrams shared an anecdote about whenever she invited men to attend a NEWIRE event, they always asked “will other men be there?” If the shoe was on the other foot, i.e. if she made her decisions to attend real estate events based on whether other women would be in attendance, she certainly wouldn’t be sitting where she is right now.


  • Sarah Abrams, former President of Fidelity Real Estate Company, President of the New England Chapter of CoreNet and of NAIOP Massachusetts (note: link is to a recent profile of Sarah at MIT CRE site)

    At NAIOP's Women of Influence Event

  • Lisa Brothers, Vice President, COO, and Co-Owner, Nitsch Engineering (president/CEO as of 2011), president of the American Council of Engineering Companies/Massachusetts, and recipient of many civic and professional awards
  • Marty Jones, President of the Corcoran Jennison Companies, recipient of the Affordable Housing Vision Award by National Housing & Rehabilitation Association
  • Amanda Strong, Asset Manager for Colony Realty Partners, Founder of AAREP New England and newly-elected President of AAREP-National


  • Marilyn Sticklor, Director at Goulston & Storrs, twice-named a Massachusetts Super Lawyer, with expertise in all aspects of commercial real estate development.