Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The real estate development sky is falling: 2009 edition

Today's Post has a front page story, "District's developers swagger no longer: With market's collapse, many find themselves in surprising new roles," on how real estate developers are seeing hard times. People with short memories do not remember the same passel of stories after the last real estate downturn hit DC and the region around 1989. That recession lasted about 10 years, and many companies, ranging from Oliver Carr and Van Metre, the rise and fall of Bill Regadie and Regardie's Magazine, and those well connected to the then Mayor, like Jeffrey Cohen--Children's Hospital site, Yale Laundry, a Cape Cod house jointly owned with Marion Barry--tanked for awhile ("Developer's Partnership Files for Bankruptcy" from 1990).

Just as the Abdo Company is taking on projects for other companies, Trammel Crow, a national company, did the same thing.

Jim Abdo put it best, how the excesses of the market were similar to the excesses of the dotcom boom (i.e., AOL merger with Time Warner, the rise and crash of PSI, of MCI-WorldCom, etc.). From the article:

Abdo said he saw the downturn coming when he noticed how many people "called themselves developers simply because they bought a piece of property. It reminded me of the dot-com craze. It wasn't hard to figure out there'd be a thinning of the herd."

The joke is that newspapers are the first draft of history. I guess one of the reasons that "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it" is that the first draft of history only goes back a week or so...

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