Expecting the Unexpected

Blog Series 2 of 4
Be sure to read all 4 entries of our blog series “Business As Unusual”. Our team of real estate professionals gathered some of their observations about the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on commercial real estate. Their words provide an interesting perspective on how to exceed client expectations during this challenging time.

At Ciminelli, our real estate professionals have come to expect the unexpected. This is increasingly true in real estate development. Construction and development projects of all shapes and sizes are notoriously stressed by schedules and budgets; add a global pandemic to the mix and it quickly becomes obvious that our constant state of readiness and ability to adapt to change are of great value. Throughout the past several weeks, our team has realized that some of our processes and procedures have really made a difference in decision making, planning and reacting to the changing business landscape. And, because being prepared for the unexpected is integral to our planning process, the current COVID-19 situation isn’t affecting our development and construction work as much as you might expect.

Certainly, New York State’s mandates requiring that non-essential construction be halted has impacted us. Work on our West End Townhomes project has been put on pause for the time being. However, our 201 Ellicott project to create over 200 affordable apartments in the city of Buffalo was deemed essential, so work has continued. There have been some challenges as all workers social distance, but where there’s a will there’s a way, and so work there continues daily. Several other projects that are in earlier stages of the development pipeline require municipal and public input. We’re happy to report that those projects are moving through entitlements processes, even in these challenging times.

Real-time Information

The information flow from our project teams’ contractor and vendor partners quickly identified that disruptions in the supply chain could pose significant challenges. Given the global impacts of COVID-19, our team quickly evaluated materials needed and delivery schedules, as well as the geography of suppliers, to determine if adjustments were warranted. Our diligence in monitoring the critical elements of our projects meant we didn’t miss a step. Alternatives were identified where needed, and new plans crafted to ensure that work continued wherever possible. Working with project stakeholders and municipalities to share information is always important, but having well-established lines of communication with these groups at this critical time has meant decisions continue to be made, and many projects continue as planned for our team. Having an ear to the ground has never been more important.

Making the Most of Technology

As mentioned, we continue to push forward on projects that are currently in the earlier stages of the development pipeline, and are aiming to hit our milestones. While we are experiencing some delays, many pinch points have been alleviated by embracing available technology. Much of our work during the past several weeks has been completed via video conferencing and emailing, so we are still able to conduct most of our day-to-day business as usual. In situations that require workarounds, we are finding them. For example, one of the major suburban municipalities we work with regularly was successful in coordinating Zoning Board and Planning Board meetings via online platforms. This proactive solution to continue to address community needs as scheduled proved effective and has allowed our projects to keep pace as planned. What once seemed out of the ordinary has proven in many instances to be quite useful. Available technology is making thinking outside the box easier than ever before.

Moving Forward

Currently, we are being nimble with our planning to align with the evolving business landscape. Knowing that, at some point we will return to our more typical daily activities. Collaborating with colleagues and professional teams on active projects is what delivers great results, and is a powerful driver that continues to move us forward.

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