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23rd May 2014

Working with AsiaProperty on the ULI Asia Pacific Summit 2014


We’re proud to be working with AsiaProperty on their coverage of the Urban Land Institute Asia Pacific Summit held May 21st/22nd in Hong Kong.


Omni-channel challenge for retail landlords

To start our coverage of Day Two of the Urban Land Institute Asia Pacific Summit 2014, held Wednesday May 21 and Thursday May 22 in Hong Kong, we go back to the afternoon of the first day, when a lively panel discussion looked at the impact of technology on retail and logistics real estate.

If you are simply concerned with e-commerce, you are fighting yesterday’s battle, today it is all about omni-channel retail (shopping across mobile, web, stores and other channels), said Melanie Alshab, senior vice president at CDG Retail Management. “Omni-channel shoppers spend seven times as much as single channel shoppers,” she said. “A majority of Chinese consumers say they would spend more online with an e-retailer that also has a physical presence”. So it’s not all bad for mall owners.

Chris Caton, vice president, research at Prologis, noted that e-commerce businesses now make up 20% of Prologis’s leased space, compared with 5% three years ago. He pointed out that e-commerce businesses in each market or region tend to be polarised between five or six very large companies and hundreds of mid-sized firms, which influences the type of facility logistics property companies need to develop.



US still looks good for investors

An improving economy and bullish fundamentals are likely to underpin further gains for real estate in the United States, according to panel of experts who said the price recovery should continue unabated in selected cities.

The speakers appearing Wednesday on the capital markets panel also highlighted favourable opportunities in Europe, Japan, and India.

Joseph Azrack, senior advisor, Apollo Global Real Estate, said: “”In terms of capital flows in the US, the largest component has been from Canada followed by the Middle East , and thirdly Asia. However the rate of increase has been the highest from Asia. I think it is highly likely that this year, Asia will be the second largest source of capital in terms of cross border investment in real estate.”



Globalisation forces new thinking on land use

The rapid change wrought by globalisation and other forces has disrupted land use requirements among cities worldwide, resulting in a massive backlog of urban regeneration needs. Issues such as the population shift from rural to urban areas, the ageing demographic and the impact of new technologies are adding to pressures to rethink land use, according speakers at the opening “Repositioning Cities” session on Thursday.

In tackling the issue, prior experience shows it a good idea to use a partnership of government and private industry. Another lesson is to embrace an approach than leverages wide-scale regeneration. Innovative models for raising capital are also instrumental.

Anita Arjundas, CEO, Real Estate Sector, Mahindra Lifespace, when drafting a master plan it was important to look at the experience in other cities to find what works and what ideas can be transplanted to India.

“We’re looking at land use and service application and we need to cope with these issues without disrupting existing infrastructure.”

Rod Leaver, Asia CEO at Lend Lease, said the emphasis on building happier cities has evolved over the past decade such that a greater weighting is given to the well being of local residents.

Round tables look at regeneration and investment

Day two of the summit ended with a series of round table discussions on topics including outbound investment, transport orientated development and urban regeneration.

Presenting the findings of the latter panel was Hong Kong Jockey Club director of property Michael Moir, who is himself involved in the regeneration of the Central Police Station in Hong Kong. He noted that the problems of urban regeneration were similar across the region, but politics differed widely.

“The three key elements to urban regeneration are social, environmental and economic, our group found,” he said. “And we reckon that if you get the first two right then the third will follow and you will make money.”

The Asian outbound investment discussion group, led by Frank Marriott of Savills and Leonard Rosenberg, partner at Mayer Brown JSM, noted that Asian institutions made up the first big wave of outbound investment and were followed by developers, with Chinese developers being notably busy this year and last. “We expect more Asian family office and high net worth capital in the future,” Marriott said.

More local, more content, more investment

ULI chief executive Patrick Phillips ended the conference by telling the audience that ULI was on a “global trajectory” and that in Asia Pacific, it was committed to continuing the growth of national councils, which would give members local content in their own language, to producing more content in this region and to making a “significant investment” in information technology.

You can read a special supplement covering this event with the June issue of AsiaProperty. Subscribe at


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