Fall 2019 President's Message

As we head into fall, it is a great time to reflect on a very eventful year for development in general, and for NAIOP Pittsburgh as a Chapter. So many important and interesting projects are underway, recently completed or starting off.


The explosion of great development projects in the strip, the continued tech emergence in Lawrenceville, airport corridor growth, and the first completed – and occupied – buildings at Hazelwood Green all bode well for our region and our industry. As a chapter, NAIOP Pittsburgh continues to make great progress in growing our membership, dramatically increasing our advocacy platform, and continuing to provide great networking and service to the real estate development community in the region.


One aspect that is particularly important to me, to NAIOP and to our region is our Developing Leaders (DLs) program. The DL program has grown tremendously, now totaling 111 members in the Pittsburgh chapter – nearly one-third of our membership. Our DLs are engaged and active, bringing new energy, new programs and new perspectives to the development industry. Importantly, our DLs are a very diverse crowd, showing that real estate can attract and support great careers for professionals of all ages, races and genders. Our DLs are clearly contributing to the more inclusive economy we all want to see. The growth in DLs reflects recognition of both the value of real estate as a career and its value to the overall economy in our region. Attracting talented young professionals to our ranks demonstrates a number of positive trends and perceptions: development is cool; it brings great projects into being; it is a key driver of the region’s economy; and it provides widespread professional opportunities – more so than at any time in recent memory. Younger professionals see an exciting and rewarding career that also allows them to help to grow the region and improve the quality of life for the residents.


We all must remember, however, that public policy has the ability to facilitate continued development or to hinder it. While real estate development has had an unprecedented good run, our overall regional growth numbers still show challenges. Without an environment that makes new development attractive, we will face a shortage in the very near future of locations for the new and growing businesses that are putting Pittsburgh on so many “Best of” lists. Now is not the time to put the brakes on development. To do so would jeopardize the progress we’ve made as a region, and an industry, and poses a threat to the many good jobs in the development and construction industries. It would also jeopardize the region’s continued economic development overall.


Real estate development has played a central role in boosting our region’s economy, including key contributions to the university driven tech economy in Lawrenceville and the Strip, and the improvements in East Liberty, Downtown, and the South Side. The commercial real estate development industry can continue to be a key partner in the emergence of new industries and neighborhoods, IF we make sure the environment for investment continues to be productive here.


Our great staff at NAIOP Pittsburgh and your Board are working hard to ensure that the interests of the industry are well represented and to promote a broader appreciation of the fundamental contributions our industry makes to the prosperity of our region.


Don Smith Jr.

NAIOP Pittsburgh President