Most Innovative Real Estate Projects and Companies

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As I sit here at my desk procrastinating by flipping through Urban Land magazine, I'm peppered by images of Boston Properties/Hines' Salesforce Tower, a top ten list of buildings with technologies that add versatility and conserve resources, and a description of how Related's Hudson Yards uses "big data" to analyze how people interact with the project. With how incredibly dull so many properties are, including the one I'm writing a quarterly report for, I'm interested in finding out what (relatively new) projects you think are truly innovative as well as what companies drive that innovation.

This could be design, construction methods, purpose - whatever separates it from the generic.

Comments (45)

Oct 16, 2018

I think Katerra is the most innovative real estate/construction tech firm around right now. Looks to vertically integrate the construction process where as a developer, you are not dealing with engineer x, architect y, and interior designer z. Rather, you work with Katerra Construction, Katerra Engineering, Katerra Architecture, etc. Valued at $3 billion currently, should be interesting to see how they grow.

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Oct 16, 2018

Really interested in a small startup called Icon Builders. Constructs small homes in a fraction of the time/cost with the use of one large 3D printer. I think they're mostly focused on developing impoverished villages in third world countries right now which is awesome, but if that technology gets scaled out, oh my.

Not too high, not too low

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Oct 16, 2018

So I googled this and one of the links, same company name, was a regional homebuilder whose goal was to "bring glory to god" by rebuilding homes and I was extremely confused.

It is really cool so see this kind of innovation, especially after all the 3d printer hype that died away.

Oct 16, 2018

Cross-laminated timber construction. Check out Hines' Minneapolis deal. Really cool, faster to build, less skilled labor required.

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Oct 16, 2018

I don't know if your'e a college football fan but Dana Holgerson the head coach at West Virginia had the first United States home built entirely of cross laminated timber.

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Oct 17, 2018

It's called T3, which stands for Timber, Transit, and Technology.

They are building one in Atlanta right now and have one in planning stages in Chicago.

Oct 25, 2018

I saw that a developer in Milwaukee is building a Mass timber office building Milwaukee Mass Timber

Sep 17, 2019

Has anyone seen what the costs are of this compared to traditional methods? I have been intrigued by this for a couple years but haven't actually heard anything about price.

Sep 17, 2019

In between stick and concrete. The idea is that you make up for the cost vs. stick via the speed

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Oct 16, 2018

Airbnb. Niido. Fifth Wall. GetAway. AutoCamp.

Oct 16, 2018

Does anyone know of companies doing research into building underground for multifamily or office? Like multiple stories deep. Seems like its inevitable in the future.

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Most Helpful
Oct 17, 2018

why would that be the future? Crazy expensive to dig below grade--shoring, issues with water table/dewatering, blasting rock depending on soil composition, outside air ventilation, not to mention code requirements for natural light exposure.

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Oct 17, 2018

Well, I'm assuming that density will be increasing in the future. At some point, it must have to be cheaper to build below then it is to add an additional floor above

Oct 17, 2018

Not exactly what you're referring to, but I saw a B1M piece about a hotel development in China that was below grade because it was built in a rock quarry.

https://www.theb1m.com/video/shanghais-underwater-...

"Life is like a song, you are supposed to dance while the music is playing."

Oct 17, 2018

SPP in Tampa is basically building a new downtown Tampa Bay. It's a bunch of old JBG developers, financed by the Jeff Vinik and the Gates Foundation, trying to build an urban smart city with smart infrastructure, A/C cooling towers, water, sewer, etc. all done for multiple city blocks instead of one-off.

But it's in Tampa.

"Capitalism: God's way of determining who is smart and who is poor." Ron Swanson

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Oct 18, 2018
RE Pirate:

SPP in Tampa is basically building a new downtown Tampa Bay. It's a bunch of old JBG developers, financed by the Jeff Vinik and the Gates Foundation, trying to build an urban smart city with smart infrastructure, A/C cooling towers, water, sewer, etc. all done for multiple city blocks instead of one-off.

But it's in Tampa.

And they're hiring a Development Manager.

...in Tampa

Oct 22, 2018

I think any new company that disrupts the historical way of building infrastructure/analyzing data/conducting the flow of capital from sources --> investors --> developers (etc.)

I've seen a bunch of companies making buildings using empty shipping containers. I've not looked at the metrics but supposedly this drastically cuts cost (and time) vs. the traditional stick build of old.

That begs the questions: Talking specifically about companies that are disrupting the way the physical infrastructure is built (whether 3D printing, shipping containers, whatever) do they de-value older buildings constructed using the tried-and-true building techniques of the past?
* For example, a 10-story multifamily building on corner x of a tier 1 city is being developed using the older techniques. Similarly, another brand new multifamily building, with identical specs is built in the adjacent plot using the newer/cheaper methods of construction (call it shipping containers). Ignoring a debate about supply and demand/highest/best use, which one would you want to acquire? Assuming you charge identical rents, presumably the one with lower construction costs. Ignoring again the supply and demand question, and looking at pure costs, do you overlook another 10-story multifamily with exact specs built in 1995 three blocks away if the newer build is cheaper/a more economical investment?

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Oct 23, 2018

I like this question but think it's a bit over simplified practically speaking. Generally, the quality of construction developed by a merchant builder is going to be inferior to a long-term hold type of developer. The merchant builder wants to keep his cost basis as low as possible, and will probably skimp on things like sound attenuation, waterproofing details, floor assemblies, and a lot of the finishes (lighting/plumbing fixtures, flooring, etc.). So, hard to compare a modular product vs. a traditional wood frame product in a vacuum without knowing who built them.

Type I or Type III deals are usually valued higher than Type V. The difference in cap rates is debatable but investors typically place a premium on concrete/steel construction for its superior longevity and lessened deferred maintenance expenses. Modular assemblies usually are of the former variety. Modular also has better QC--ie, more consistently built, and better tested electrical work and general MEP coordination.

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Oct 24, 2018

Interesting points. Will modular construction ever come close to the same level of superior longevity you mentioned? Even on a smaller scale (say a 6-8 unit multi family) where sound attenuation and waterproofing are details that were addressed to the superior level?

Oct 23, 2018

P2P lending to developers as banks have abandoned small scale developers - too much work for too much risk. Oh wait, all the P2Ps are going bust - I guess a 12% guarantee is not really true and after the truly good developers in '12 got financing the shit ones started to crop back up thereafter and retail was too happy to lend anything to anyone.

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Oct 24, 2018

Constructs small homes in a fraction of the time/cost with the use of one large 3D printer.

Nov 5, 2018

Golub's Chicago office is converting the Tribune Tower into condos which I think is a great use for the gothic tower. The east loop and central loop are becoming a graveyard for office towers as a new Class A trophy buildings are being delivered quarterly in the west loop and along the river.

Fulton Market is a highly inovative neighborhood. Developers Sterling Bay and Shapack Partners played major roles in convincing the city government to rezone the former meatpacking district. The whole project took off when the Merchandise Mart couldn't accommodate Google's demand for space so they decided to roll the dice and build their Chicago office in Fulton market sparking a development boom, which led to the Soho House and McDonalds HQ entering the picture. This began attracting restaurants, tech firms, and major retailers to the formerly bleak area of Chicago's West Loop. Now its a sea of construction and may be the most ideal location in the city to live due to its proximity to the river where most firms have moved their offices.

Sep 17, 2019

Bump. Would like to hear more about which developers you guys think are making the most unique and innovative projects today.

Sep 17, 2019

This group has some really cool projects.

http://ddgpartners.com/

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Sep 17, 2019

UrbanLand wrote an article about The Wharf in DC that isn't too bad

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Oct 9, 2019
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Oct 9, 2019