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CRE Trend: Developer Symbiosis and Synergy-driven Urban Revitalization

Posted On June 6, 2014

78324846Across the U.S., commercial real estate investors and developers whose success is tied to urban revitalization are coming together to create synergies, often by way of informal partnerships. Calling themselves the “Brew Crew,” three otherwise unaffiliated investors in Washington state are dedicated to the simultaneous advancement of one another’s projects, as well as the rejuvenation of the Brewery District near downtown Tacoma.

The group plans to purchase three city-owned buildings as standalone projects, which together will form a lively centralized hub complete with a special-events venue, dining and retail, and a multifamily housing complex. They envision bringing entrepreneurs, jobs, foot traffic and an arts scene to the area, and believe their shared vision and individual success stand a better chance by working together.

“The three of us got together and realized that if we all three developed these properties at the same time, we could create synergy,” prospective buyer PJ Hummel told the Business Examiner in March, adding that a multifamily housing project makes more sense to investors if there are nearby entertainment options as an added draw for tenants.

If successful, the culmination of their vision could inject $100 million into the Brewery District, the Business Examiner reports. Moreover, the city’s own plans call for just this type of mixed-use development in the district.

Along with Hummel of the event planning firm PJ Hummel and Company, the crew consists of Denny Anderson of Real Estate Investment Services and John Lewis of AmmGen real estate development. Hummel told the Business Examiner she has been contacted by other building owners and prospective buyers who think they “can add on” to the Brew Crew’s efforts.

In downtown Las Vegas, a different kind of synergy, funded by one visionary investor but fueled by ideas from around the world, is reversing decades of decay in the city’s core. By relocating more than 1,500 of his own employees to the area and investing $350 million of his own money, Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh plans to build a walkable “live-work community” spanning 20 square blocks, Gizmodo reports. The Downtown Project, Hsieh’s development arm, is “inspiring and empowering” people to create their own sense of community by soliciting ideas from the public and investing in cultural events, creative spaces, art installations and entrepreneurial pursuits. The Downtown Project’s “brain trust” will undertake one project a month through the first half of this year at least, The Las Vegas Sun reports. Through The Downtown Project’s website, the public can submit a two- to four-minute video pitching their ideas on a range of community development initiatives. One idea that received approval was a temporary ice rink installation.

The Downtown Project has its share of critics, who lament that Hsieh has driven up rents to the detriment of existing businesses. But the Sun reports that the synergies orchestrated by Hsieh have succeeded in drawing “thousands of people to shop, dine, play, work and start businesses after decades of decay.”

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