The Asia Pacific Summit brings together the region’s leading real estate developers, government leaders, urban planners, and researchers to discuss solutions to and strategies for common land use challenges in Asian cities. Held in Shanghai in 2016, the summit celebrated its fifth anniversary and delivered a conference program and experience that reached new levels of depth and sophistication. The caliber of speakers, discussion topics, study tours of signature real estate developments, and opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and exchange drew a record number of participants to Shanghai’s Jin An Shangri-La Hotel.
The summit’s theme of “navigating the new normal” was woven throughout the program as provocative thought leaders reframed conventional thinking about the global economy and ULI member-leaders shared their insights into development and investment trends gained from working at the vanguard of city-building.
The summit kicked off with a series of ULI Talks, in which Institute members shared their expertise on pressing issues facing cities and real estate. A talk on trends in sustainable and resilient building practices featured top leaders in the field, including Jonathan Flaherty, Tishman Speyer’s global director of sustainability; Sylvester Wong, vice president, strategies and development, at AECOM; Nina James, general manager of sustainability at Investa Property Group; and Steve Straus, president of Glumac, a building services firm devoted to improvements in indoor air quality and sustainable design. ULI Australia Chairman John Carfi and immediate past chair, Peter Holland, led another ULI Talk with Micky Leung, managing director of Tishman Speyer’s Shanghai office, on mixed-use development. And a ULI Talk on investment trends featured insights from Darren Xia, head of JLL’s international capital group in China.
Capital markets are always a top-of-mind concern for summit participants, and the 2016 gathering offered ample opportunities to discuss capital flows both into and out of Asia. Chaired by Richard Price, ULI global trustee and chief executive officer of CBRE Asia Pacific, and Hei Ming Cheng, founder and director of KaiLong Investment Management, the third annual ULI Asia Pacific/JLL Capital Markets Forum drew an invitation-only group of the region’s elite investment management professionals from GIC Real Estate, Mitsui Fudosan Investment Advisors, Ping An Real Estate, and others.
A follow-up concurrent session on Asian capital flows featuring Goodwin Gaw, François Trausch, Loh Wai Keong, and Simon Shen noted that Asia institutional investors will soon play as important a role in real estate capital markets as American and European insurance companies and pension funds.
The summit’s keynote speeches were delivered by out-of-the-box thinkers known for their original ideas. Globalstrategist and CNN commentator Parag Khanna explained that megacities and connections between them will define our experience more so than national boundaries. “Cities are our more ancient social infrastructural fact,” he said. “Mankind is becoming a global networked civilization amongst these cities.” Shui On Land Chairman Vincent Lo continued with the theme of connectivity with his explanation of China’s new Belt and Road Initiative, a government-led, $8 trillion infrastructure project intended to strengthen trade and cooperation among China, Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia along proposed trade routes that echo the historic Silk Road.
Tishman Speyer chief executive officer and president Rob Speyer described designing efficient public transportation systems and guiding development along transit routes as the greatest challenges that city leaders face today. Visionary mayors such as Yang Xiong of Shanghai and Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles understand that a robust transportation system enhances livability by cutting emissions, air pollution, and traffic, he noted.
The summit featured several half- and full-day tours of real estate projects around Shanghai. The Young Leaders Group brought together members under the age of 35 from Australia, Southeast Asia, and China to tour significant projects in Shanghai, including the retail and entertainment complexes of the Bund Center, Lido Way, and Xintiandi.
Several ULI Asia Pacific member-leaders played a significant role in the meeting’s success. They included the following:
Host Committee Chairman Henry Cheng
Program Committee Cochairmen Ryan Botjer & Albert Chan
ULI Asia Pacific Chairman N.H. Seek
ULI Asia Pacific Chief Executive John Fitzgerald