JLL’s Peter Riguardi engaged audience at Nov. SPDC Industry Seminar Series

The MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction (SPDC) held its sixth Industry Seminar Series event on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015.

December 17, 2015

Peter Riguardi, president of JLL’s New York Tri-State Region

The MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction (SPDC) held its sixth Industry Seminar Series event on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015. Featured speaker Peter Riguardi, president of JLL’s New York Tri-State Region, presented on The World Trade Center: More than Just a Redevelopment.

Joseph Maguire, President and CEO of Wolverine Development Corporation, and President and Co-Founder of the Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities (SERF), is the facilitator of the Series. These events are popular with local alumni and industry leaders, and help to show SPDC students real-world examples of what is possible to achieve upon graduation.

The JLL is a financial and professional services firm that specializes in commercial real estate services and investment management. The JLL has advised the government of China for the building of Bird’s Nest for Beijing Olympics, among other well-known projects. Riguardi leads all operations for the company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area, and is one of the lead real estate brokers in New York. He is responsible for broadening the company’s New York platform by developing key client relationships, leading major projects, maintaining senior real estate industry contacts and political relationships, and recruiting new talent. Riguardi holds degrees in marketing and finance.

Riguardi’s son Alex is currently enrolled as an undergrad in the SPDC Urban & Regional Planning Program.

Riguardi began his presentation by talking about how the World Trade Center (WTC) was built, about the 9/11 tragedy, how it was rebuilt, and what needed to change. The WTC (1970-2001) was an iconic building of our marketplace. The Port Authority owned the land where it was built; it was originally built on landfill that expanded lower Manhattan. First conceived in 1943, the development included seven buildings total, with conception to completion taking 40 years (1967-1985). Edward Minscoff, an MSU alumnus, developed the WTC complex.

On 9/11, 20 million sq. ft. of office space were completely demolished, including some surrounding buildings, not just the Twin Towers. The opportunity to rebuild the site was encouraged by the need to have a symbol of America’s resilience, as well as the money to be made. There were numerous design submissions for One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower. Riguardi cautioned that buildings you can see through or have crazy structures are expensive and don’t have a good return on investment. The winning plan was created by Daniel Libeskind who designed a cascading tower. Memorial park includes massive fountains where the foundations of the Twin Towers were located. The names of the people who perished are on the fountains.

The complex is still under construction, and it will also house a transportation hub, which was designed by Santiago Calatrava. It will open next summer and have a 300,000 sq. ft. shopping center. About 1.5 Grand Central stations could fit inside.

It is estimated that 7 to 8 million visitors will come to the site every year. Only about 10% of visitors speak English as their first language. Initially, there were concerns about whether people would be afraid to occupy the new buildings. The Freedom Tower is still viewed as a potential target, but it was built to withstand great impact. The City is creating incentives to attract people and businesses to the site.

The population in the New York metro is 20 million people and it’s growing. Today, the downtown has 62,000 residents, versus 13,000 in 2000; estimates indicate that the population will double. Young millennials think that it’s a great place to live. New York and the redeveloped WTC hope to attract young and vibrant talent, offering work-life balance and easy access by subway. When businesses are looking to locate/relocate, their number one concern is the attraction and retention of top talent. However, it is expensive to live and do business in New York City; office space rental rates are $70-150/ft. They are looking for a place that people can get to and from easily, with affordable housing. They want a lot of amenities. The new site creates better connectivity and accessibility than before.

During Q&A, Riguardi answered a question about “Would it be lucrative to build in Detroit?” Riguardi indicated that Detroit has great history; a turnaround plan requires a better partnership and plan between businesses and governments. Both sides have to appreciate and respect what the other side needs. Government has to understand that developers want to make money; and developers have to build in some elements that the government wants (e.g., affordable housing, transportation, etc.). 

“Let’s help the businesses here grow. Let’s work to keep MSU graduates in Lansing. If there are jobs here, they will live here, and then the amenities will build up around them,” he said.

Riguardi also offered some Inspirational takeaways for students looking forward to career-building: “When you go to work, you have one shot at starting to develop a reputation. Your name becomes synonymous with whatever they say about you. It quickly doesn’t matter where you went to school. You will be sitting next to someone who went to community college and someone who went to Harvard. All the boss cares about is who can get the job done. He/she will keep giving the more challenging roles to people who prove that they can do it.”

Finally, he suggested to the audience that it is always good if you can do things with other people’s money. For instance, Larry Silverstein, who purchased the WTC in the late 1990s, right before the tragedy occurred, leveraged his own $6 million to secure almost $6 billion from insurance companies, investors, and others.

Scott G. Witter, PhD, SPDC’s director, offered this advice to students in the audience: “Think about where you will be in 20 years. Will you be coming back to SPDC to talk about your success? It’s the commitment that you put into it that will make the difference.”

Learn more at: SPDC Industry Speaker Series.

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