Getting to Know the Chairman

Spring 2016
Ashley Powell

I’VE ALWAYS BELIEVED that NAIOP members are dynamic, passionate and care deeply about building better communities. As chairman, I’m proud to lead this group. I look forward to a solid year not only for the industry, but also for the programs, advocacy efforts and opportunities NAIOP provides. To help you get to know me, Development magazine asked me to share my thoughts on our industry and association. I’m pleased to share my responses with you here.

During your years in commercial real estate, you’ve seen the industry hit sky-high and then bottom out, only to climb again. Where do you view us in that cycle?

We see familiar signs that we are in the later innings from a capital markets perspective, but we continue to have strong fundamentals in leasing and tenant demand. This is a time for greater discipline, since cap rate compression will not make up for other mistakes. The nationwide supply side is below prior cycle peaks, but the new supply is concentrated in just a few markets. When the demand side slows, the pain will be real.

What impacts are millennials having on commercial real estate?

With baby boomers retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day and millennials surpassing them as the largest generation, the impact on real estate is undeniable. The millennial generation values work-life balance, social collaboration and cooperation. They hold themselves — and the businesses and brands they interact with — to high ethical standards. They seek out professions they are passionate about and utilize technology to tap into their work and buying decisions. Their expectations yield immense opportunity for real estate. The oldest millennials are in their early 30s and are certainly in positions to make space recommendations for their businesses. To stay competitive, we must think about what millennials expect in terms of location, design, amenities and technology.

What’s the best investment opportunity today?

In the traditional product types where NAIOP members are active, the build-to-core strategy still makes sense because of the extremely competitive market for buying core assets. Bentall Kennedy is focusing on investment in medical offices for the following reasons: 1) consolidation in the industry is driving the need for a new generation of medical buildings, and older buildings are becoming functionally obsolete; 2) baby boomers are entering their peak years for health care use, resulting in increased demand; 3) historically, medical tenant renewal rates are higher, reducing the turnover costs that often erode traditional office performance; and 4) returns at the moment are slightly better than for other product types.

Why should our members be engaged legislatively?

NAIOP members have a responsibility to speak up on behalf of our industry and ensure that policymakers fully understand the wide-ranging contributions of a healthy real estate industry to federal, state and provincial economies. Our members are the collective voice for the real estate community on Capitol Hill, in statehouses and in provincial legislature buildings. It’s a role we must take seriously.

What do you see as the biggest benefit of NAIOP membership?

Quite simply, NAIOP is the place where real estate professionals come together to connect and make deals; stay cognizant of the variables that will have an impact on the industry — legislation, market cycles, investment trends and the capital markets — and share best practices and knowledge that keep us ahead of the curve.

See Ashley Powell talk about NAIOP and his vision as chairman.

All About Ashley

Bachelor of Arts in construction management, Brigham Young University

I’ve been married to my college sweetheart for 30 years; we have three children. My son is married and in medical school, one daughter is an analyst at Invesco in private equity and my second daughter is a sophomore at Brigham Young University.

Last book read?
“Other People’s Money: Inside the Housing Crisis and the Demise of the Greatest Real Estate Deal Ever Made” by Charles Bagli

Best words of wisdom you ever received?        

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are made for,” John A. Shedd, “Salt From My Attic.”

“For as [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he,” Proverbs 23:7.

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