Update #19, Urgency Examined
My major takeaway of 2021 is that the sense of urgency — the faster is better approach — that is embedded in much of our work is a major problem; and often a massive miss. It spurs project outcomes that are less thoughtful, calculated, and creative. Further, urgency in professional settings, especially at real estate firms, may result in processes that leave critical stakeholders behind, fuel flawed internal decision making, and perpetuate certain aspects of institutional racism in the staffing, permitting, underwriting, design, and marketing of projects.
Update #18, 2021 Optimism (Mostly)
As we enter fall and look towards 2022, the Graffito team will be approaching all of what we do with the same intensity, commitment to learning, flexibility, and willingness to pivot as we did in 2020 when the pandemic first hit and these updates began.
Update #17 Happy New Year: And Your Favorite Subject, Restaurants
We lost about 1 in every 4 restaurant deals that were just past or at lease signing when the pandemic hit. Of the deals that we did manage to save, I believe the success rate for these restaurants will be extraordinarily high.
Update #16, A Hole Lot to Think About
Swiss Cheese model thinking has guided Graffito’s approach to our own occasional team gatherings, but more importantly it has guided our evolving thinking about our core businesses. We have embraced the reality that there is no singular solution or approach we can successfully deploy to rebuild our retail leasing, real estate advisory, and marketing practices.
Update #15, If Not Retail, What?
Here in Boston and throughout much of the country, we have an oversupply of retail space. We therefore need to completely readjust our thinking about ground floor leasing and programming.
Update #14, It May Not Be Pretty
Every call or video chat we have these days, regardless of agenda, starts with a question directed at us that is something similar to: “So, before we jump in, what are you all seeing out there?” While the conversations that follow are never identical, our response these days typically convey the following…
Update #13, So, Now What?
I invite you to provide feedback to us on what more we can do to reinvent Graffito as a more actively anti-racist organization, where we are missing the mark, if you want to join us in any of this, how we can share best practices, and how we can hold each other accountable in our respective pursuits to make better, more inclusive, more diverse, more equitable, and more valuable urban places.
Update #12, Another Pivot
At Graffito, we will not be bystanders anymore. We will reinvent ourselves as related to anti-racism, equity, and inclusion. And of all the “pivots” I’ve been writing about in these updates the past few months, this will be the most important one for us.
Update #11, Silver Linings
Indeed there are some silver linings associated with this COVID-19 disaster, another one being our suspicion over here at Graffito that it may in fact be local businesses that emerge stronger from this crisis than the national and regional chains.
Update #10, I Hope I’m wrong
Here at Graffito we’ve all embraced a strategy of not bull-shitting each other or our clients. And I guess being a realist right now just feels and looks a lot like being a pessimist.
Update #9, Rebuild. Rethink. Reopen…
Today, unlike in March, it is safe to say with certainty that COVID-19 has touched all businesses selling anything to the public, whether online in or in-person. Every single retailer in the past two months we have spoke to — and we are talking to a lot of retailers — is thinking about changing their business model in some way. The scale of the collective rethink in retail is just nuts.
Update #8, Now What?
Any “reopening” of our gathering spaces and retail establishments will be only a partial return to what things looked like pre-coronavirus. But despite this, our spirits are high here at Graffito, because it does feel that we are collectively entering a new phase in responding to this crisis: shifting from panic and shock to problem solving and opportunity assessment.
Update #7, April 28: Restaurants
I’m going to scratch the surface of the last question above: how do we rethink restaurant deals? While it is not the most important question of the above at the moment, it is the one many of you have been asking Graffito a lot about of late. And, as you can image, we have some thoughts.
Update #6, April 21: Scale of Pain
Retail and restaurants will be in a worse place on 5/1 than they were on 4/1. In fact, there is widespread recognition for those of us in the business of retail real estate that our recovery will be measured in quarters and years instead of weeks and months. This is the part that is most sobering. And scary.
Update #5, April 13: Uncertainty & Flexibility
I feel strongly that assuming it will be business as usual again in 6 months, 12 months or 18 months is a trap. Our world will be changed coming out of this. Cultural, social, economic and political shifts will impact our thinking around urban design, retail leasing, property management and development, master planning, communications, and branding.
Update #4, April 7: Tenant Realities & Planning
COVID-19’s impact on retail real estate will force us all to delve deeper into our tenant’s businesses than perhaps any of us ever have. It’s not going to be pretty, but it is wildly necessary.
Update #3, March 27: A Lot to Process
Despite the diversity of approaches we are seeing, I can say without hesitation that the best and smartest Landlord responses we have seen to date are from ownership groups that have proactively reached out to Tenants, are showing empathy, and are reaffirming their commitment to the LL/Tenant partnership. Communication right now is critical, even if it comes without hard-and-fast remedies
Update #2, March 16: Brace Yourself
We can skip a discussion of approaches at the moment and instead aggressively shift our heads – for today – to the hard recognition that few, if any, locally-owned restaurants, fitness facilities, and neighborhood retailers, almost all of which depend on day-to-day in-person commerce, will be able to make full payroll, vendor payments, and rent on April 1.
Update #1, March 13: Waiving The Cautionary Flag
There is an existential threat to the health of our retail and restaurant community that is upon us based on the spread of, and efforts to contain, the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Accordingly, we are sharing the following sentiments and realities in an effort to update you re: the conversations we anticipate you will be having with tenants today and into the coming weeks.