Forest City West Coast explores new development models to drive innovation.

Following the 2008 financial crisis, the national developer takes on exciting new innovations in real estate to evolve into the next generation of placemakers.

A $12B publicly-traded national developer transforms
Real estate is not known for being innovative but a number of growing forces are pressuring the industry to evolve.  The pressures are diverse and broad across the development process.  Supply chain and manufacturing technologies are creating new materials and new methods for erecting buildings, while labor laws and environmental regulations are beginning to impede traditional methods and materials.  A growing awareness of community-led development has created a sea-change in how cities are permitting projects, demanding more involved processes of community engagement.  Leasing, trading and financing are each also evolving as the internet economy begins to migrate control  away from traditional models, mirroring much of the share economy and community-sourced strategies we see in other sectors like ride-sharing and crowd-funding.  These are all opportunities for innovation that development companies will need to tackle if they are to remain relevant and sustain their businesses.

Real estate is slow to evolve but the mounting pressures on development are bringing new opportunities for innovation across the industry.

Forest City is a 12-billion dollar privately owned and publicly traded national developer.  Following the 2008 financial crisis, Forest City’s West Coast operations, directed by Kevin Ratner, was striving to capitalize on these opportunities through a series of innovative new developments, new business models, and R&D projects.  The effort included a year-long research project on the future of office and subsequent 4-acre development showcasing how real estate can increase innovation; a side-by-side construction and market absorption test of identical buildings, one fabricated off-site through modular construction and one built traditionally on-site; a new community engagement process using a phased development strategy and programming to enable the social networks of early small-scale tenants to help define future phases; and a new research and consulting division to mitigate the risks of expanding into new markets.

FIX’s Role
Forest City retained FIX for four years beginning 2009 to help the company research, define and operationalize each of these initiatives.  FIX worked in tandem with Forest City leadership and development teams, embedding within the company for periods to project manage and ensure viability and adoption within the organization.  Our work spanned across the entire West Coast, including Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.