on fundamentals such as supply and
Development: Over the next 18
months, what challenges and opportunities do you see for the commercial real estate industry?
Bell: We see challenges and opportunities from changing demographics and technology. We are looking
closely at what real estate products
people want, and we are looking
closely at how buildings are operated
and the types of technology we need
to put in them. Clearly, one of the big
moves is to wireless technology. This
is very different today than it was just
two or three years ago.
Development: Looking out three to
five years, what do you see on the
horizon that will impact the industry?
What are you doing today to prepare
for those challenges?
Bell: We are certainly looking at the
leadership in Washington. The Trump
administration has promised large
infrastructure spending to the tune of
$1 trillion, major tax reform and other
pro-growth programs. This could have
a major positive impact on commercial real estate.
Development: How has the industry
changed during your career?
Bell: The industry has grown tremendously, and the number and types of
players have changed. When I started
out in the business, life insurance
companies and pension funds were
the major players. Now there are
many, many more funds that are active. The biggest sea changes in my
career involve technology and demographics, which are changing the way
we approach real estate.
Development: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned over the
course of your real estate career?
Bell: The major lesson I have learned
is that no matter how blue the sky
looks on the day you initiate a real estate deal, everything can change rapidly. Because of the time most deals
take, it is impossible to know what
will happen between the time you
put a deal together and the targeted
stabilization of the property. Therefore, you must underwrite all projects
carefully and conservatively. We are
very conservative in how we underwrite deals, and we are very conservative in our market assumptions going
forward. This philosophy has served
us well, given the uncertainty of the
real estate business. n
By Ron Derven, contributing editor, Development
“We are looking
closely at what real
people want, and we
are looking closely
at how buildings are
operated and the
types of technology
we need to put in
J. Dwight Bell
Northeast Production Lab
Sloatsburg, New York
TO THE SPEED OF