ULI Korea – Technologies and Real Estate

ULI Korea participated in Cityscape Korea in Seoul and organized a 3-hour forum on the impact of new technologies in real estate. Cityscape Korea was a real estate industry conference, and was attended by over 200 real estate professionals. Several ULI representatives and members served as speakers and shared their views on different aspects of how new technologies will shape cities and real estate industry in the coming years.

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Tom Murphy, ULI Senior Fellow and former mayor of Pittsburgh (1994-2005), spoke on the role that city governments can play in setting long-term visions and harnessing various resources to realize the visions.  Reflecting on his experiences as mayor of Pittsburgh during the city’s transformation economically, environmentally and socially, he spoke of the importance of “intentionality” in transforming cities. He discussed how he and other key cities leaders developed a vision to reclaim water-front and return it to the public through building contiguous parks and trails, which helped revitalize the city’s water-front. Another key intention was to educate its young students and leverage its universities as an engine for economic and job growths. Now, thanks to the world-class research universities, entrepreneurial culture, venture capital industry as well as high livability, the city has become one of the key IT hubs in the US boasting various R&D labs by companies like Google, Amazon, Uber that are working on cutting edge technologies such as autonomous cars and artificial intelligence.

Murphy’s talk was followed by Mr. Byeon Changheum, CEO of Seoul Housing and Communities Corporation, which is the land and housing development arm of the Seoul Municipal Government, who spoke on how Seoul is setting up various innovation clusters. According to the plan, these clusters would allow for “live, work, and play” and bring together related businesses and other organizations. He pointed out that while the city has lost a lot of manufacturing jobs in the past few decades, the city now sees opportunities for skilled manufacturing jobs as manufacturing is an important component of an eco-system for an industry to succeed. So, whether it is fashion industry or IT, having manufacturing facilities that are integrated with research, product development, and marketing elevates the competitiveness of the industries.

Other speakers included Mr. Paul Doherty, CEO of the digit group, and Mr. Choi Minsung, CEO of Delco Realty, a retail property consulting firm, and the Chair of ULI Korea Organising Committee. Doherty shared various technologies that his company is involved in such as piezo electric power generation, smart city design and development in Saudi Arabia, and prefabricated home building with a plant near Shanghai. A trained architect with an IT background, he shared his vision of how urban transportation would include autonomous “people movers” or “pods” that would carry a smaller number of passengers than present day buses and allow passengers to transfer between vehicles as two pods can join and lock in while moving with the adjoining doors opening to allow passengers to transfer. In fact, such vehicles are currently being designed and will be manufactured in the next few years by his company. Choi provided a summary of how new technologies and life style changes, especially among millenniums, combine together to reshape cities and buildings. He pointed out how autonomous cars and car share services reduce the need for parking lots and shows examples of how architects and developers are “future-proofing” new parking lots by designing flat floors to allow for conversions to other uses.

Kenneth Rhee, Chief Representative for ULI China Mainland and ULI Korea, who moderated the forum, concluded the forum with an optimistic note. Rhee said that new technologies can free up more land including for housing, which should alleviate housing shortage in the city centre and allow young professionals and low-income families to live in the city centre and be able to enjoy the benefits of urban living.

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