Welcome, Noah & Wendell!
In my Client Update sent out earlier today I wrote about one of the key outputs of Graffito’s deliberate slowdown in 2022/23, our recently released Small Business Tool Kit: https://graffito.com/tool-kit/. We slowed down in lot of other ways too.
In the first quarter of 2023 we made the decision (not an easy one) to cease taking on new non-leasing work. We did this to give ourselves the space to figure out 2023/24 hiring goals, scrutinize our approach to new business, and discuss how long (and if) we want to stay on projects past the leasing phase. Historically, Graffito has entered project very early (most often pre-permitting) and stayed on through the development and leasing phases. Increasingly though we have asked ourselves (and some of our clients have asked us too) if we need to be engaged past lease-up and into the occupancy phases, and the answers is often yes. Setting ourselves up to do this work — from project inception to post-occupancy — triggered this 2023 rethink and pause in new business.
From 2016 – 2022 Graffito had the benefit of a (traditionally trained) urban planner on our team (first Erin, then Corey), who worked closely with me on the early phases (pre-permitting and pre-development) of our projects. This work was often supported by Gustavo, who did a wonderful job of framing our work within the urban, community and social context of the given place.
Corey’s departure from Graffito in 2022, followed by Gustavo’s departure in 2023, gave us the chance to examine the skills needed to own the vast “pre-leasing” phase(s) at Graffito. This work for sure involves planning and urban design, but a big part of it is project management, storytelling, construction coordination, and community engagement. So we (well, Melissa, who brilliantly led this very important hiring effort) cast a super wide net in our search for someone to lead this work, interviewing individuals with experience ranging from property management to underwriting, development, construction, branding, permitting, and architecture. The output of this search was the hiring of Wendell Joseph, who joined GSP last month after years of work in both the public (as a Planner at the City of Cambridge) and private (at various urban design firms) sectors. He’s Graffito’s first ever “Director of Pre-leasing + Planning,” and we are super excited to relaunch our pre-leasing and advisory business in 2024 with Wendell on the team.
The second role we filled — Director of Neighborhood Investments + Partnerships — is one that I’ve been thinking about for years, but never really had the time to slow-down, pause, and make it happen… 2023 gave us that chance — the space to step back and appreciate that if we are to continue being involved in projects from inception all the way through lease-up and occupancy, then we have to think in new and novel ways about how we work with our clients and partners in impact-driven ways. Having a team member focused on joint ventures, community investments, and alternative structures for our engagements in/on projects is threshold. As of today we have that team member in Noah Koretz, who joins us after close to a decade of work at MassDevelopment. Noah will be working with me on a new line of business at Graffito, wherein we finally get to explain the “SP” in GSP…
Please join me in welcoming Wendell and Noah to the team — and know that you’ll get to meet them both very soon!
Onward to 2024,
PS, “SP” = Strategic Partners