ULI Philadelphia Blog

Press Release: ULI PHL Real Estate Forecast Highlights A Year of Transformation

On November 29th, real estate experts, ULI leaders and industry professionals met to share perspectives from “Trends at the Top” and discuss the Emerging Trends in Real Estate® 2019 report released by ULI and PwC on October 10th. This year’s report defines the real estate climate and forecast as one of transformation. Over 500 ULI members and industry leaders joined ULI Philadelphia for its 19th annual Real Estate Forecast. Local speakers backed this up trend with business perspectives and research showing a strong local market sprinkled with chaos, uncertainty and creativity. Attendees were given extensive information by asset class, local market and national trends and advised to embrace the opportunity and the imperative to evolve.

Participants heard from CEOs of the top development firms in each asset class, who provided a “Trends from the Top”. Industry leaders shared insights on the current state of the evolving market:

  • Industrial: Bill Hankowsky, Chairman, President & CEO of Liberty Property Trust highlighted the strongest market that the industrial space has seen, driven by economic growth, a structural change caused by e-commerce and a high correlation between location and labor;
  • Retail: Joe Coradino, Chairman & CEO of PREIT reminded us that the “mall is not dead” with traffic up 9 – 13%, a strong connection between online sales and native retailers, and properties adding experiences like co-working and fitness;
  • Hotel: Jay Shah, CEO of Hersha Hospitality Trust, reported that the Philadelphia Westin fulfilled its hometown promise and that stable national growth, high consumer confidence and investment in the experience continues to drive the leisure segment of the business;
  • Multifamily: Doug Yearley, Chairman & CEO of Toll Brothers who sees strength in the urban housing market as well as the “urban suburban”, agreed that the suburbs are alive and well and noted a shortage of labor and that lifestyle trends are driving housing type;
  • Office: Jerry Sweeney, President, CEO & Trustee of Brandywine Realty Trust summarized the convergence of the real estate businesses and the awe-inspiring rate of change; the office segment is adapting to transformation and disruption.

Lauren Gilchrist, Senior Vice President of Research for JLL Philadelphia presented in-depth data on local market conditions and compared the future of the regional real estate market to the Flyers’ mascot, Gritty: chaotic and a little scary but with a lot of opportunity. Lauren summarized the region’s strong population growth, in particular of millennials and highly educated individuals, and provided robust data in each asset class. “2018 was a record year for commercial real estate construction in Philadelphia, and the leasing market has demonstrated strength across most asset classes” said Lauren. “As the construction cycle winds down and some cracks begin to show in the national economy, questions about how much more time we have in this cycle have begun to emerge. But for now, the market in Philadelphia remains robust, and we predict a strong first half of 2019.”

Mitch Roschelle, Partner and Business Development Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers, rounded out the program covering national trends, not just from this year but from over 40 years of history of the Emerging Trends in Real Estate® Report. Real estate has been widely accepted as an asset class and has demonstrated intensifying transformation. Survey respondents continue to see a steady outlook for the year, with the second longest growth cycle in history. This year’s report ranks Philadelphia in the top five cities for both hotel and industrial investment.

Top trends from this year’s report, which is now in its 40th edition, include:

  • The rise of the “18-Hour Suburb” and that the millennial question is starting to be answered: many are looking for suburbs with urban amenities and good schools.
  • Retail space is not dead, and it is a good time to repurpose space for alternative uses.
  • New office buildings and multifamily assets are going above and beyond to meet a range of resident needs through “amenities gone wild”.
  • Disruptors are disrupting real estate, from package delivery to autonomous vehicles and this is forcing redesign and amenity shifts for residential and commercial developers.
  • Environmental, Social and Governance Practices are important to investors. Sensitivity to these issues has increased and funds with these strategies in mind could see an advantage.
  • Last mile industrial development is in high demand with the expansion of e-commerce far from over and the need for facilities to accommodate a dense distribution network

“ULI Philadelphia is proud to share this national research and bring together a high-level discussion and projection about the local real estate market led by our industry leaders in hotel, industrial, office, multifamily and retail development” said Paul Commito, Chair of ULI Philadelphia and Senior Vice President at Brandywine Realty Trust. “Building on last year’s record-breaking program and attendance, today’s speakers gave our community a lot to think about as we tackle a fascinating year in development. I am proud of the progress we have made the ULI Philadelphia District Council and look forward to continuing to engage with new and established members, growing committees and serving the broader industry through our ULI Philadelphia advisory and impact projects.”


About ULI

 The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute whose mission is to provide responsible leadership in the use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.  Established in 1936, ULI today has more than 40,000 members around the globe representing the entire spectrum of land use and development disciplines. The Philadelphia District Council encompasses more than 1,000 members throughout Eastern and Central Pennsylvania, the southern half of New Jersey and the State of Delaware.  It is one of the most robust district councils in the country, experiencing strong growth and introducing new initiatives.  For more information, please visit www.philadelphia.uli.org.

About Emerging Trends in Real Estate ®

Emerging Trends in Real Estate® is a trends and forecast publication now in its 40th edition and is one of the most highly regarded and widely read forecast reports in the real estate industry. Emerging Trends in Real Estate® 2019, undertaken jointly by PwC and the Urban Land Institute, provides an outlook on real estate investment and development trends, real estate finance and capital markets, property sectors, metropolitan areas, and other real estate issues throughout the United States and Canada.

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