2022 CREW Network Convention
By: Michelle Flagg
Michelle’s First CREW Convention
Thank you for the awesome opportunity to attend the 2022 CREW Network Convention in Chicago. I took the advice from fellow CREW members to attend the First Time Attendee Orientation. During the networking portion of the orientation, I met Emily Wood with Revere CRE. She invited me to the Chicago Boat Tour with other attendees. It was nice seeing Chicago from a tourist’s perspective.
Thursday morning I attended the Networking Breakfast and the General Session with Jill Donovan. Her presentation was so engaging. I literally laughed out loud when she acknowledged that she looks like Suze Orman. That’s exactly who I thought she was when the post card came out for the convention, before I read the names. But before the general session began, I was awestruck at the diversity of the women that shared their stories. I made it a point to meet Kelli Dickerson who formed a Anti-Racism Committee for her chapter. CREW Network CEO Wendy Mann kept with the theme of belonging and shared her background growing up in Johnsonburg, PA. She viewed education as a way to accomplish more in life than her parents and to leave her small town. Wendy’s story along with the women in the opening also reminded me that diversity is not limited to race or gender, but we have a lot of diverse talent due to upbringing, geographical, socio-economic status, etc.
After the general session, I attended the “CRE Law: Easements, Rights-of-Way and Their Effects on Property Value” Conversation Corner. I almost didn’t attend it because that is my area of practice and thought about something different. I’m so glad that I did attend it. The Conversation Corner with Kate Duncan covered projects in the city and my experience has been primarily with energy projects, like pipeline or transmission line projects in rural areas. Development projects in major metropolitan areas present a unique set of challenges in right-of-way. I introduced myself and spoke with Kate afterwards.
In the afternoon, I attended the “Adaptive Reuse: Turning Blight into Bright” Breakout Session with KC Conway. The speaker referenced that appraisers look in the past which is not the best method for valuing new and potential options and uses for a property. The NOI can change based on the use of a property and maybe maintaining it as an office building isn’t the best route as trends and work patterns change. KC offered the advice of a soft approach when presenting an adaptive reuse solution. He doesn’t recommend renderings of a new use. Instead, he suggested that you identify the problem and give the municipality ways that you can solve it with a focus on ESG and also include adaptive reuse. KC referenced an adaptive reuse project in Birmingham AL where they restored a Greyhound Bus Station that had historical significance due to the Freedom Riders and turned it into office space. As part of the overall project a 1960 Greyhound Bus was restored. I plan on visiting the station during my next trip to Atlanta because it’s a relatively short ride.
While my schedule was pretty tight, I was still able to volunteer at the hospitality counter. I was both a tourist and guide and helped attendees with directions on getting to the Cloudscape structure aka “The Bean” or other destinations. I am thankful for the grant and used it for my hotel expenses. This allowed me to take full advantage of everything that convention had to offer without having to commute back and forth from home.