Our events are the heart of WDC, featuring local businesses and offering intimate networking opportunities at interesting locales in primary and secondary cities throughout the country. WDC has gathered women semi-annually for many years after the ULI meetings to inspire, promote and support women who lead transformative real estate developments.
Music City didn’t disappoint as our two packed days of events took us through multiple neighborhoods, each capturing the attention of an enterprising woman developer. We kicked off at Old Glory, a hideaway bar run by two inspiring sisters located in what used to be an old boiler room of one of Nashville’s largest steam cleaning facilities that has been transformed into an urban oasis of local retailers. We then walked through the Edgehill neighborhood to Music Row where we saw many of Nashville’s most famous sound studios and heard about the design and development process of the new SESAC building from its local architect, Mary Roskilly. SESAC represents the world’s top songwriters, composers and music publishers, and shares its new building with the Country Music Association. Our tour continued through The Gulch, and emerging neighborhood that features the famous Kelsey Montague’s WhatLiftsYou Wings Mural – an Instagram and Taylor Swift favorite.
With that as inspiration, we gathered for dinner and tapas at Chauhan Ale & Masala House where an informative and lively interactive discussion ensued with transformative women developers Tara Hernandez, JCH Properties and Molly McCabe, Lotus Campaign, moderated by Tifinie Capehart, SilverPointe Properties.
On Monday April 15, our WDC Nashville program kickstarted with the best coffee in Nashville at the Red Bicycle Coffee & Crepes in Germantown. We toured the ground-breaking (literally and figuratively) Germantown Commons, where we learned firsthand about what makes this co-housing development so special from its founder Diana Sullivan. We then headed to North Nashville where we witnessed the emerging development of the Buchanan Street Arts District which is being led by development pioneer, Kelly Bonadies, Bonadies Urban Development. Kelly and Kim Hawkins, Hawkins Partners, are working closely with the community to develop a plan to achieve neighborhood goals and support local businesses. We heard from Elizabeth Gatlin, Southern Athena, about the process of developing the popular neighborhood speakeasy, Minerva, and visited several local artisans and entrepreneurs who are making and selling sustainable products that many of us took home with us! We enjoyed lunch at the new neighborhood mainstay, Slim & Husky’s, run by Nashville’s beloved Betty Marshall.
Our time together concluded in Downtown Nashville at woman-owned Jackalope Brewing Company , Nashville’s first craft brewery to can its own beer, with an insightful leadership workshop led by Carol Murray, Lifework Institute and Allison Lynch, Watt Properties.
We want to express our deepest thanks again to our Nashville WDC program leaders, Gina Emmanuel of Centric Architecture and Kelsey Oesmann of Urban Housing Solutions, for coordinating our inspiring WDC program in Nashville.
Our Monday night inaugural WDC Leadership workshop was a big success! Many thanks to Perkins+Will for hosting us and to Carol Murray (WDC Leadership Chair and Principal at The Lifework Institute) and other WDC members who worked to design our highly interactive session. We explored how to develop the two core skills that are most highly correlated to leadership effectiveness according to recent research– working with “vision and purpose” and “fostering teamwork.”
Our Thursday afternoon tour led us through Boston’s South End to Rollins Square Apartments, with a special extended stop at Dahlia’s Gallery–a wonderful studio and weaving shop featuring local, women-made artisan products and owned by Dahlia Popovits. Our evening continued with dinner at CinqueCento just down the street, where Pam Goodman (CEO) and Dara Kovel (incoming President) at Beacon Communities shared their perspectives on leading one of Boston’s largest residential real estate firms, which has as its core mission “Living Well by Design.”
Boston developer Sarah Barnat of Barnat Development led our Friday morning Innovation and Inspiration Tour of projects in East Boston. Along with Rebecca Herst, Director of Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston, Sarah led us along projects fostering sustainability, resilience, affordable housing, transit-oriented development and waterfront revitalization (including Boston East Apartments where we met with Abby Goldenfarb, VP of Development at Trinity Financial). Our tour concluded in East Boston Shipyard with a WDC Leadership Lunch Discussion at D’Parma’s Restaurant. WDC members who didn’t have to run to catch an afternoon flight had the opportunity to tour the ICA/Boston’s Watershed, which has transformed a 15,000-square-foot, formerly condemned space into a new civic and cultural asset. Anmahian Winton Architects designed the project from an abandoned copper pipe factory, and Project Manager Aaron Bruckerhoff met us at The Watershed for a back-of-house tour and to learn about about the early stages of the project and its design elements.
Our visit to the Motor City featured an amazing array of women entrepreneurs/business owners and local developers. Our events began with a visit to Détroit is the New Black, where owner Roslyn Karamoko encouraged us to “shop local” with an elegant twist. Regina Gaines, owner of House of Pure Vin, spoke of achieving her dream and inspiring ours as we visited her spectacular wineshop, catalyzed by TechTown’s Retail Boot Camp. The Retail Boot Camp is helping to accelerate Downtown Detroit’s recovery by providing motivated retail entrepreneurs with the tools and retail space necessary to launch their businesses. Kudos to Melissa Dittmer, Veronica Rickett and Tamara Knapp of Bedrock Real Estate for developing Lofts at Merchants Row, home to House of Pure Vin that Bedrock helped to kickstart. Bedrock continues to enliven Detroit through beautiful building restorations and well-curated retail, including our featuring woman-owned chocolatier, Bon Bon Bon. Our morning tour kicked off with interesting insights from David DiRita, development partner at Roxbury Group, followed by a lively city bus tour with the Detroit Experience Factory’s Jeanette Pierce. A deep dive into innovative local developments provided by Kimberly Dowdell of Century Partners, Cecily King of Live6Alliance and Abir Ali of The Platform, who shared how their respective work is catalyzing new development. Our gathering concluded at Traffic Jam & Snug with a delicious lunch and a talk by owner Carolyn Howard, developer and owner of the noted Midtown eatery and other Detroit properties.
The Ratkovich Company graciously hosted us on The Bloc’s beautiful rooftop overlooking downtown LA as we kicked off our City of Angels events. Evening highlights included Clare DeBriere’s presentation along with other Ratkovich Company women about their work to transform the tired commmercial center in to the Bloc. Vinovore owner Coly Den Haan shared the inspiring story of its birth and her unique partnership with a local developer to achieve her dream to develop a wine shop that features women vintners. Innovators, entrepreneurs and diverse creators in downtown LA’s The Reef were showcased the following morning thanks to Ava Bromberg. Dana Trujillo also led us through the innovative features of the award-winning Star Apartments by Skid Row Housing Trust, which provides supportive housing for the formerly homeless in one of the first multi-family modular housing developments in California. A full slate of activities also included a visit to the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) where we could see firsthand this amazing center that resulted from Amanda Loso’s inspiring story of the friendship between two women to help women overcome poverty and end homelessness. For lunch we joined in the 100th anniversary celebration of the Grand Central Market where Adele Yellin curates an amazing group of restaurants and food vendors in LA’s historic market. Our day concluded at Metabolic Studio led by visual artist, Lauren Bon, who continues to demonstrate how art can both inspire and create environmental change through Bending the River Back to the City, among other projects.
Lower Bar Ferdinand in Melrose Market, redeveloped by Dunn & Hobbes, was the venue for wines from family-owned, small-production bodegas from around the world, a wine presentation from local woman-owned and women-partnered wine producers, and light fare to kickoff our time in the Emerald City. Liz Dunn, principal of Dunn & Hobbes, led us through innovative retail and mixed-use projects in downtown Seattle and the Capitol Hill neighborhoods, including her transformative, ULI Global Award for Excellence-nominated Chophouse Row. Maria Barrentios, principal of Barrientos RYAN, toured us through Hollywood Lofts—an adaptive reuse development—as well as other historic renovations that she has developed in Capital Hill. Our tour continued to Seattle waterfront to meet with Heidi Hughes, executive director of Friends of Waterfront Seattle and Midge McCauley, principal of Downtown Works, who shared insights of downtown’s retail renaissance and Seattle’s ambitious waterfront revitalization efforts.
Cocktails and dinner at MESA—featuring authentic Veracruz coastal cuisine—kicked off our Dallas gathering. Arts took front and center for our morning tour of HALL Arts—a mixed-use, multi-phase development and the newest office tower along the Dallas skyline. Located in the Dallas Arts District, the building features a museum-quality collection of modern art and a half-acre sculpture garden. Kim Butler, head of leasing and a board member of HALL Group shared the integral role of art in the development’s success, whose masterplan includes a second office tower, condos and a hotel. Lunch at Stampede 66, purveyors of modern Texas cuisine in a playful Western setting, rounded out our time in Big D.
The City of Brotherly Love welcomed WDC with dinner+cocktails at The Continental in Philly’s Old City neighborhood near the famous Liberty Bell. The Passyunk neighborhood was the site of our Friday morning tour. A rapidly emerging area of South Philly, one of its main thoroughfares was recently deemed a “best foodie spot” by Food & Wine magazine. Lindsey Scannapieco, principal of Scout Development, led a tour of the Edward Bok Technical School, which her team is in the process of renovating into a creative incubator space for local businesses (many of which are owned by women) and a rooftop café/bar/event space. After lunch at a favorite local Italian restaurant, WDC activities concluded with an optional tour of WHYY Radio where we not only got to met Terry Gross of Fresh Air, but also heard firsthand from WHYY Director and staff about what makes the station so beloved by all of us from around the world.
As San Francisco is a frequent pioneer of new technologies to gather people together, WDC hosted a private dinner through EatWith, a “shared economy” website that features creative local chefs. Ecuadorian- and Parisian-trained Chef Alejandra Espinoza shared her story as well as her cuisine at a private venue overlooking AT&T Park at San Francisco Bay, which was spearheaded by several San Francisco women. On Friday, San Francisco developer and WDC member Elizabeth Costello (founding partner of Pocket Development) toured us through the Hayes Valley neighborhood and her recently completed (and sold-out!) 63-unit luxury condominium project, 300 Ivy (rendering above). Our early risers met for an optional pre-tour breakfast at Hayes Valley Bakeworks (550 Gough), a social enterprise café that trains and employes people with disabilities, who are homeless or at risk. Our tour also featured 388 Fulton Street, developed by Kim Diamond, a micro-unit, zero-parking condo project that was under construction across the street from Bakeworks. Our tour concluded with an informal lunch at Papito Hayes, a popular Hayes Valley restaurant.
Aptly named “Space City” (although, alas, not referring to real estate), Houston inaugurated the WDC event calendar. An evening dinner at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop in the Midtown neighborhood preceded a morning tour by local developer Joy Horak-Brown, president and CEO of New Hope Housing, who guided members through several of her affordable housing/SRO projects. Highlights included Canal Street Apartments (A ULI Development of Distinction award winner) and Brays Crossing (winner of both the ULI Development of Distinction and an International Award of Excellence). Both projects exhibit an architectural distinction not customarily associated with affordable housing and SRO development. Our time in Houston concluded with lunch at a local Mexican favorite and Joy’s guided tour of the city.