Saturday, March 21, 2009

What Does a Real Estate Developer Do?



Some of you probably know this very well, better than I do, but since I didn’t know when I became one, I thought it might be worth a few words. The short version is that the Developer in a real estate project plays the same role that a Conductor does for an orchestra. The Conductor may not be able to play all the instruments or possibly not any of them well enough to play in a symphony orchestra, but he or she has to keep everyone playing together. Without the Conductor, you’ve probably got a mess.

That’s the same role that a Developer plays in a real estate development. I can’t design the building; that’s for the architect to do. I can’t build it; that’s for the contractors and subcontractors. I can’t draft the legal documents (well, I can some because I am a lawyer); that for the lawyers. I can’t fund the project; that’s for the banks and investors. And on and on.

What I can do, at least on a good day, is make all these people work together.

It gives you a unique overall perspective on a large construction project. Before CityWalk is done, hundreds of people will have worked directly on CityWalk. We will use plumbers and property managers; electricians and architects; bankers, landscape architects, demolition workers, restoration specialists, steelworkers, masons, an unreasonable number of lawyers; project managers (three—mine, the general contractor’s and the architect’s, all with different roles to play). We couldn’t go forward with the contributions of the state and federal governments, the City of Dallas, foundations and individuals that provide us funding.

Even more people will have made indirect contributions. Those include manufacturers of everything from windows to mirrors to roofing. It includes cement manufacturers, plant growers, tile makers, pipe makers, manufacturers of security cameras, furniture, metal studs, paints, and dozens, probably hundreds, of other items that I can’t even name.

I’ve always thought that one of the greatest feelings in the world must be to be a conductor, posed on your stand with the audience hushed, and the baton goes up and when it comes down the orchestra lets loose a glorious ocean of sound. On a really good day, I have at least an inkling of how the conductor feels at that moment.

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