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“Gimme Shelter” with Daniel Gehman: Time and Paradigm—Part II

Because of my friendship with the director of the ULI Los Angeles Chapter, I was invited to the presentation of the executive summary of the ULI National Advisory Panel’s charrette on the Jordan Downs community and greater surrounding area of Watts. Those of you non-Angelenos may recall this storied community as the flashpoint of the 1965 riots in Los Angeles. It is also, incidentally, the birth place of the infamous LA gang known as the “Crips.” In what was ultimately a wonderfully optimistic program, a couple of things struck me. Among the recommendations of the Advisory Panel, which consisted of…

Foong on Finance: When Will Financing Return?

Here are some “take away” items from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual commercial real estate financing conference, which I attended this week in San Diego. Yes, financing will be back, within two years. That is the opinion of most of the financing industry members, some of them executives of leading players. We are talking about CMBS-like, securitized, financing in some form or other. Indeed, during the conference Jones Lang LaSalle released its 2009 Loan Production Outlook Survey that showed 67 percent of nationwide commercial real estate lenders expect securitized lending to return to the capital markets by 2011. If some…

“Gimme Shelter” with Daniel Gehman: Time and Paradigm, Part 1

I saw the decade in, when it seemed The world could change at the blink of an eye And if anything then there’s your sign of the times I was alive and I waited I was alive and I waited for this I am indebted to the band Jesus Jones for those lyrics, from a song that was popular in maybe 1991, but feels viscerally appropriate for today. Eighteen years ago we were in a war with Iraq, in a recession, but it was clearly still so twentieth century. A decade later, there was another tectonic shift in our culture…

“Gimme Shelter” with Daniel Gehman: Practicing Patience

Recently at the farmers’ market I visit, I came across a variety of grapefruit known as a “cocktail.” On my quest for the perfect morning citrus treat, this one, apparently a cross between a grapefruit and an orange approaches holy grail status. Wow, I thought, wouldn’t it be great to have one of these in my yard. So I inquired at my local nursery for the species, and of course no one had ever heard of it. All right, move on, I thought. Then this morning, while enjoying another sweet, juicy, near-perfect hemisphere, gingerly picking out the seeds with my…

FOONG ON FINANCE: Meditations on Urbanism

As Aretha Franklin sang “My Country ’Tis of Thee” at President Barack Obama’s swearing in ceremony last Tuesday, ABC News panned to images of the Lincoln Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, Capitol Hill and other scenes of architecture and nature from across the nation. It was hard not to be moved, not only by the occasion, but by those images of great art in the midst of the swelling music. As those images flashed, it occurred to me that every one of those sculptures shown was by an artist from the Nineteenth Century. That was art that had something real…

“Gimme Shelter” with Daniel Gehman: Work Hard, Think Big

  Last week I had the pleasure of attending at least one day of the National Multi-Housing Council Conference in La Quinta, California. You know what? I have to tell you: I’m certainly glad that developers, as a rule, are optimists. Well, maybe not the numbers guys, but certainly the visionary guys. It provided some comfort to hear many of the seasoned veterans remind us that, thought this particular downturn had a unique brutality, they had all been through it before, and knew that if, rather, as they survived they could look forward to making a lot of money in…

“Gimme Shelter” with Daniel Gehman: There Must be a Pony, Part 2

It’s a remarkable thing when, twice in one week, I hear news stories about apartment rental rates dropping in Los Angeles. Seriously, what does it take in the cultural context for a piece about falling rents to become a lead story? There’s no question that rents went up in conjunction with the condo housing bubble, though I’m not really sure what the connection was, exactly. Were there enough people priced out of ownership opportunities who nevertheless could afford luxury-level rents? In the interest of full disclosure, my livelihood is derived from the design and construction of apartment communities. It is…

“Gimme Shelter” with Daniel Gehman: Bail Out Burn Out

There’s a great line in Young Frankenstein, when the crew is exhuming a body from a creepy cemetery, in the middle of the night, to harvest sundry useful parts, where Dr. Frankenstein asks, “How? How could this possibly be any worse?” to which Igor offers the cheery rejoinder, “Oh, I don’t know . . . it could be raining.” Naturally, thunder cracks, lightning flashes, and a downpour ensues. Be careful what you wish for. Ah, such is the case with Washington’s tireless printing press. As senator Everett Dirksen once supposedly remarked, “a billion here, a billion there; pretty soon you’re…

“Foong on Finance”: The $775B Stimulus Plan May Mean Money for Us

I remember the recession of the late-1980s-early-90s. Wave upon wave of news kept coming in 1989-‘90 of layoffs at corporations. I thought at the time, “They are laying off so many people that there will be no one left to buy the goods they produce.” Sure enough, by the early 1990s, the situation was pretty bad. But one bright spot at the time was the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, which played a large part in driving this magazine’s recovery. The reason? Although the market-rate apartment industry at the time was not doing so well, money was still…

“Gimme Shelter” with Daniel Gehman: There Must be a Pony

Part 1  This weekend I had the opportunity to introduce to the public a family that had worked very hard to gain equity in a property they were about to purchase—a Habitat for Humanity home in Fullerton. In presenting the keys for the home to this Mexican-American family of five, I was struck by the irony of the situation; while something like one in ten of their peer group was either behind in mortgage payments, or facing foreclosure outright, this clan was about to enter the precious heart of the American dream—a home of their own. But the descriptor “their…