Real estate, economic development leaders to form think tank
Dec 05, 2013 07:13:33AM MST
Written by Deborah Gates Staff Writer
Dec. 4, 2013 |

SALISBURY — Heavyweights in industry, business education and real estate urge stakeholder participation in a think-tank symposium at Salisbury University designed to hash out ideas and strategies to spur economic development and job creation on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

A focus of Friday’s symposium is the concept of place-making, or the transformation of structures or corridors into magnets for dwelling, learning, shopping, socializing and other activities, said John McClellan, a senior advisor at Sperry Van Ness-Miller Commercial Real Estate in Salisbury, a sponsor. “This is a rare opportunity to learn about place-making — a place where people can come to shop, work and play,” McClellan said. “The key questions are, ‘what is place-making and why is it important?’ This is the first time such a symposium has been done here. It’s done in many parts of the country.” He cited the owner of the former Salisbury Mall property near the heart of Salisbury as an example of a property owner that could benefit by a place-making vision.

“That’s a 75-acre stone pile,” McClellan said. “Does he build something or create a place to come to work and to play? Any broker can take a piece of land and say it’s for sale.” Members of the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport Commission are among agency or business leaders expected at the symposium. The airport area, organizers said, also is an example of where there is “excess land to build.”

Representatives from Sperry Van Ness Corporate Property Strategies, Franklin P. Perdue School of Business and Johns Hopkins Carey Business School are among panelists to discuss strategies to create place-making, economic development and new demand for real estate; as well as corporate or university real estate connectivity to business entrepreneurship and social value creation. Participants also are from NASA and Delaware State University.

David Wilk, a Sperry Van Ness advisor and educator, said the real estate industry, key to the success of place-making initiatives, must “reposition its products to appeal to the creative class.” “In today’s marketplace, how do we create economic development and new jobs to reverse the after-effects of the recession,” asks Wilk, who is moderating two symposium panel discussions. “The creative class is a new market, and you must appeal to that market segment in a creative and innovative way that people get excited.”

McClellan said the symposium is an opportunity for stakeholders to be on the ground floor of creating a community “wow.” He encourages attendance by entrepreneurs, businesses and people in education and economic development.

“We want to transform a place into a ‘wow,’ ” McClellan said. “We’re trying to make the region more attractive, and make it better for everybody by creating something that people get excited about.”