Archive for December, 2009

2009: The Year That Was

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but ‘tis the time of year for never-ending lists. Best this, worst that. Notable. Quotable. Blah Blah Blah.

What’s slightly interesting, though, as the end of 2009 draws near, this year’s lists are taking on a whole new flavor, “the end of the aught era.” Yes friends, it’s the end of the first decade of the 20th Century, counting 2000 through 2009.

Since 2009 was a rather momentous (and most would say calamitous) year, I’ve made my own little list (nothing fancy mind you) of events that topped the commercial real estate charts over the past 12 months:

The commercial mortgage meltdown. This is, without a doubt in my mind anyway, the top story of the decade, and 2009 saw more “melt” and “down” following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. When do you know a trend in the CRE industry is really significant? When mention of it appears on CNBC and other mainstream business media outlets (print and broadcast) oh, say, every 10 minutes. We’ve been hearing a lot lately about CRE being the “other shoe to drop,” but as someone far smarter than me opined recently, “how many legs do we have?”

My new book! I purposely waited until the last day of the last year of the first decade of the 20th Century to have it released. OK, maybe not, but anyway, it will just beat the buzzer. In many ways, the story of Sam Zell is emblematic of the decade past. One of history’s great contrarian business moguls, Zell earned a fortune selling his office real estate empire at the height of the market in 2006, then promptly pissed away much of his credibility capital by zealously (pun intended) buying and bankrupting Tribune, one of America’s great media companies. Sound interesting? Please go buy/pre-order the book NOW here.

General Growth Properties files Chapter 11. I first met John Bucksbaum, CEO of GGP, back in the mid-1990s, and I’ve been a big fan of his ever since. He was always resplendent in his trademark GGP green blazer at ICSC every year, and always made time to talk with me. What has happened to his firm is truly unfortunate for such a wonderful man. May the new year bring better days!

Devon Energy’s shiny new corporate headquarters in downtown Oklahoma City. Sure, I have soft spot in my heart for OKC since I’m a native from waaaaaayyyy back, but even foreigners – I mean out-of-staters – must surely marvel that a new 50-story office building is rising in the downtown of a city of 1 million people. Devon’s tower will not only change OKC’s skyline, it’s a game changer for the local business community/economy as well.

MAPS 3. You don’t even need a hand with fingers to count the number of cities that would vote for a one-penny sales tax, in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, for what? Seven years and nine months. Oklahoma City is that city, and hopes are high in the local business community that the new $777 million public works program, which includes a new downtown convention center and public park, will continue to rejuvenate the urban core and keep the city out of its own recession.

These were only a few highlights from the year that was. Please feel free to add your own by clicking on the comments link below.