January 22, 2016
Connect Media spoke with Scott Bohrer, Browman Development’s leasing manager and upcoming speaker at Connect Silicon Valley, about his passion for urban development and the modern factors affecting the retail sector.
Q. You have a passion for urban redevelopment. As Leasing Manager for Browman Development, what aspect of the job is most challenging? What is most rewarding?
A. I’m a passionate urbanist- the vibrancy of urban living allows for the opportunity for interaction and serendipitous collisions that spur innovation.
Being able to work with clients and tenants who are passionate about what they do and have a genuine interest in the livelihood of people is most rewarding. The opportunity to mediate the middle ground between tenants and our owner to help bring their vision to life is exciting.
On a similar note, the most challenging aspect of this job can be tenants. The nature of the beast in development is that we may spend so much energy and capital on projects that don’t materialize, but that’s also what makes a completed project so rewarding.
Q. What factors and innovations in today’s modern world have most affected retail development?
A. Shaken by the recent times of the recession, many retailers are still struggling to find their place. There are three outstanding factors affecting the industry: the Internet, the spending habits of millennials, and the urbanization of major metro areas.
Innovations like Amazon, offering a business model that beats competition in both cost and convenience, have forced traditional retailers to think outside of the box (no pun intended). The ability to merge experiences with service is what will set apart retailers of tomorrow with those of today.
Multiple studies have shown that millennials value spending on experiences rather than traditional goods, and that is fueling the shifting retail environment.
With the urbanization of major metro areas, traditional centers that were generally scattered across agricultural land are no longer sought after because that’s not where there are jobs. Retailers are adjusting to the logistics and minimized space in city centers in creative ways. For example, Whole Foods is very adaptive in this way.
We are at the tip of the iceberg in this realm, as creative developers and architects are bending the rules to design functional spaces for both the customers and retailers.
Q. Tell me how about how your passion for urban infill translates when working with traditional retail.
A. Traditional retail plays such a vital role in urban infill in the long term. An aspect that is pervasive across prime retail properties is its inherent value–good access, close to transportation, etc. These characteristics work well for mixed-use properties.
As a private development company, we are willing to be patient with our strategy and hold these assets until the time is right to develop. Although it’s challenging, as retail developers, we come to the table as the people who understand the ground floor and can capitalize on opportunities in the long run.
I’m part of a creative team, and since day one, no one has flat out said “no” to me. While they may tell me I’m crazy, they always give me the opportunity to solve any problem.
Q. As a young leader, what advice would you give to up and coming CRE professionals?
A. The number one thing to someone in any field is to follow your passion. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and trying different things until it clicks. If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life, and that’s where we are our most useful.
Also, get in the mix and be involved in industry groups. Get to know people, and it will shrink the industry, making your day-to-day more rewarding because those you work with are your friends.
Lastly, be humble and approach every conversation with respect for the other person because you are sure to learn something new.