Restless Focus

It was clear to me when listening to our new President speak yesterday that many companies in the AEC industry are simply a micro version of what’s happening at the national and global level. As such, much of what President Obama said in his inaugural address resonated with me, and I could see how it applies with our everyday business. But beyond that, over the last six months we have listened to so much bad news, that our population as a whole has been ‘beaten’ into a down trodden state of low moral and self esteem. People want to know ‘when will it end.’ And my observation over the last month has been this. We’re not sure when the recession will end, but it can only start recovering when two things have happened. First, we have to have our next president in office so things can get done. The transition time between the November election and January inauguration is always a ‘dead zone.’ Second, as a society, we all need to pick our chin up, look around and say, ‘We will get through this.’

At the same time, the entrepreneurial developers are growing restless. They have been on a high pace growth and development pattern for a couple of decades, and while they probably enjoyed a bit of respite to re-focus their companies, they are ready to resume work.Those that are in business to develop real estate are starting to feel anxious and restless. They see opportunity to buy real estate fairly cheap, and new construction prices are also competitive – they have an urge to do something with the market at a low. So, at this time, the urge to buy and develop in a down market, and a new outlook for our country need to collide.

This is what I call ‘Restless Focus.’ We need to take a very careful look at our next design and development patterns and search for better ways to design and construct buildings. We need to look for existing infrastructure to redevelop; creating more densely populated municipalities, leveraging infrastructure and tax base. We should look at repositioning properties that are in prime locations but have been marginal producers for 20 years. We need to look at energy efficiency with a critical eye on the bottom line, and develop ways to compare ‘efficiency’ on buildings like we do on cars. To change 20 years of old habits will be hard to do, but we must do it, we can do it, and we will do it.