Monday, March 1, 2010

Jair on Authenticity

“Washington was a very manageable place for me as a young person. After elementary school, I attended Sidwell Friends School and also started gymnastics. That created a very broad world for me because I had my neighborhood, my school, and my sport, all in very different places that didn’t overlap at all.

"Sidwell is urban with strong attempts to create diversity, but a largely upper-middle-class school student base. Gymnastics was in suburban Columbia, Maryland. In Columbia, you saw kids pampered, in a good way, by their environment. And I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood, Shepherd Park, where most kids went to parochial schools. Our neighborhood was full of aspirations, of people wanting to move up the economic ladder. Traveling among these three worlds taught me about the notion of place really early in life. That very much weaved into the desire to be in real estate.

"One of the reasons I came back to D.C. from California in 1998 is that it didn’t really change much in the ten years I was gone. You still had those three worlds, and they really didn’t talk to each other. I was still very lucky to be able to move among those three worlds. The connectivity among these places creates the new buzzword that everyone talks about now -- authenticity. I wanted to work in the neighborhoods where I thought one could create authentic places, areas like Shaw and U Street. As a firm, we have been working for the last 12 years to make those places have a soul. We are mindful of the past as we move forward.

"This authenticity reflects a huge shift in urban development. Now we have a young population much larger than the baby boomers who had been the bulk of our demographic weight and dictating policy for the last 40 years. There are 60 million baby boomers and 150 million Gen X and Gen Y-ers. These young people want urban and authentic. Developers are recognizing that and responding. Some will do it well and some won’t. We think we do it well because we start with the people. When we imagine things, we try and think about what people will need five or ten years out from now.

"We have a very systematic approach to creating space. It involves thirty steps and identifies location, need, customer, and how the space interacts with the neighborhood and its assets. Once we do that, it becomes like an engineering project. You work step by step and go around in circles, over and over, until you come up with a project. It is not much different than trying to come up with the best cupcake or cell phone. You have design, research, finance, and marketing teams, who all work around the clock through forty iterations of something to create a product that will endure. We do the same thing with real estate."

Jair Lynch is President and CEO of Jair Lynch Development Partners. Jair was a two-time member of the United States Olympic Team. In 1996, as captain of the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, he won a silver medal on the parallel bars.

1 comment:

hetyd4580 said...

Interesting blog, Danny, but this post is missing an important part of the equation: Generation Jones (between the Boomers and Generation X). Google Generation Jones, and you’ll see it’s gotten lots of media attention, and many top commentators from many top publications and networks (Washington Post, Time magazine, NBC, Newsweek, ABC, etc.) now specifically use this term. In fact, the Associated Press' annual Trend Report chose the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009. Here's a page with a good overview of recent media interest in GenJones:

It is important to distinguish between the post-WWII demographic boom in births vs. the cultural generations born during that era. Generations are a function of the common formative experiences of its members, not the fertility rates of its parents. And most analysts now see generations as getting shorter (usually 10-15 years now), partly because of the acceleration of culture. Many experts now believe it breaks down more or less this way:

DEMOGRAPHIC boom in babies: 1946-1964
Baby Boom GENERATION: 1942-1953
Generation Jones: 1954-1965
Generation X: 1966-1978
Generation Y/Millennials: 1979-1993