ULI Fall Meeting Recap


Ware Malcomb leaders recently attended ULI’s Fall Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. ULI, or Urban Land Institute, is the oldest and largest network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts in the world. WM’s Vice President Radwan Madani, Principal Jinger Tapia, and Atlanta-based Director, Architecture Joe Stryker enjoyed the sessions and the city of Chicago at the Fall Meeting which shapes the future of the real estate and land use industry.

Sessions ran from early Monday morning through Thursday evening discussing everything from real estate’s economic outlook to commercial office in the post-covid environment, as well as breakouts on climate change and diversity, equity, and inclusion. The opening gathering included a great observation about the future of the real estate industry at large, comparing the pandemic to jury duty because “no one quite knows just how long it’s going to last.” However, one important fact was underlined: the demand for commercial real estate remains strong.

The main stage at this year’s ULI Fall Meeting.


Progress shots from the UrbanPlan session.

The three Ware Malcomb attendees, also full ULI members, each set out on their own paths, experiencing sessions and making connections. However, Radwan and Jinger joined up for two tours: a boat tour of the Chicago River’s architecture and a walking tour of the Fulton Market District. The Chicago River Architectural Boat Cruise featured a narration of the history and stories behind more than 50 buildings along the Chicago River, and how Chicago grew from a small settlement into one of the world’s largest cities in less than 100 years. The Fulton Market District Walking Tour spotlighted the pioneers of Fulton Market District who transformed the former meatpacking, produce, and industrial area into one of the most sought-after destinations for food, hospitality, art, technology, and business and is now home to Google, McDonald’s and Mondelez.

Meanwhile, Joe attended the UrbanPlan session as a local committee member and veteran UrbanPlan facilitator. UrbanPlan is a mock RFP that ULI rolls out at high school, college, and university levels, as well as at the municipal and neighborhood alliance level. The program centers on a fictitious municipality that has issued a private-sector RFP to masterplan a blighted neighborhood in the city. In the course, participants break up into teams of five or six with each assigned a role to play (for example, site planner, financial analyst, marketing director, etc.). They spend the designated course duration preparing a response to this mock RFP with ULI committee members providing periodic facilitations to help the teams hone their solutions. At the end of the class, there is a city council presentation of the solution with ULI members playing the role of council members. This session at the Fall Meeting was a chance for attendees to participate in a condensed planning session with new curriculum changes to the RFP before the changes are rolled out to the various districts.


The sessions were all interesting and informative. Below are a few key takeaways from some of the breakouts attended by WM leaders.

  • Life Science: It is best to build lab and research space with the same local people and scientists who started the research process, as you will lose so much time from the development cycle if you move the research to other markets.
  • Mass Timber:
    • Opportunities
      • More sustainable construction which tenants like.
      • Higher rents.
      • Higher leasing and occupancy rate.
      • Low greenhouse emissions to produce and ship to the site.
    • Challenges
      • Potential delays due to approval agencies’ lack of experience with product.
      • More expensive to develop space with exposed timber.
      • Finding a qualified contractor that is comfortable with Mass Timber.
      • Building height. The Catalyst in Milwaukee is the tallest Mass Timber in the USA.
  • Emerging Trends:
    • 5 of the top 10 markets to watch are in the Southeastern U.S.
      • #1 – Nashville, TN
      • #2 – The Research Triangle in NC
      • #5 – Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL
      • #6 – Charlotte, NC
      • #8 – Atlanta, GA
    • Industrial/Distribution, Life Sciences, and Multifamily are still the most buoyant market sectors.
    • Inflationary trends in construction materials and labor are being more than matched by increase in rental rates for Industrial and Multifamily.
  • S.H.A.R.K. from a Shark:
    • Daymond John from ABC’s “Shark Tank” led the closing session for the Fall Meeting and shared his inspiring 5 words and reasons for success (S.H.A.R.K.):
      • Set a goal
      • do the Homework
      • Amor (love what you do)
      • Remember (you are the brand)
      • Keep swimming
Daymon John leading the closing session.


Since our inception, Ware Malcomb has placed great importance on maintaining a presence at conferences like the Fall Meeting to stay up to date with the latest industry trends and connect with clients, partners, and colleagues. We are active in several professional organizations like ULI including the Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP), Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network Foundation, and CoreNet Global, among others. With these efforts towards continuing education and our knowledge and involvement, we continue to remain a recognized thought leader on topics such as creative office, workplace strategy, industrial trends, and more. Check out some of our thought leadership articles with the link below.