NAC Members Take A Wild Ride into the Future at Chicago Meeting


Ten years ago, were we imagining a future where a printer could make us everything from a pizza to a new kidney, or one where robotic bees would be pollinating plants? At its May meeting in Chicago, BOMA International’s National Advisory Council (NAC) members participated in a fascinating discussion of the innovations in technology that will change our personal lives, as well as the way we communicate and how we do business. NAC is a select network of senior commercial real estate professionals, whose members come together two times a year to share perspectives, listen to industry experts and learn from each other.


One tech trend to watch for: Robotics, including robotic personal assistants and "robobees."


Stefan Swanepoel, chairman and CEO of T3 Sixty, mesmerized the 60-plus attendees with his top 10 technology trend predictions, many of which are already available in some form, and others that could be the "new normal" 10 or 20 years from now.

Swanepoel’s list includes flying cars (already on the market for a mere $599,000), wireless power, motion fusion (just snap your fingers to control your devices), virtual reality and visualization systems, new 3-D applications, smart devices, medical holography, facial recognition, machine learning and drones. But, the number one trend, according to Swanepoel, is robotics, including robotic personal assistants and "robobees." Already in development to augment the dwindling bee population, these supercharged bees can do everything real bees can do, but are not susceptible to disease.

The NAC meeting also featured an update on the U.S. and global economies, including the very healthy industrial real estate sector. JLL’s Chief Economist Ryan Severino assured attendees that both U.S. and global economic growth are still accelerating; in fact, we are enjoying the second longest economic expansion in modern U.S. history, second only to the dot-com explosion of the late 1990s. Tightening labor markets, resulting in wage growth, higher inflation and higher interest rates, will eventually slow the economy, potentially leading to another recession by approximately 2020—but not as long or deep as the last one.


E-commerce is the big driver in industrial real estate, with a tremendous opportunity for online grocery sales to grow.


CBRE’s David Egan, global head of Industrial and Logistics Research, painted a glowing picture of the industrial real estate market. Demand for industrial space is still above average, vacancy is at just 4.5 percent and net rents are growing at near-record rates. E-commerce is the big driver, with a tremendous opportunity for online grocery sales to grow (currently, there’s only a 15 percent e-commerce penetration in grocery). Success will be supported by the transfer of retail cold storage to industrial cold storage, and the use of efficient, automated trucking.

The program also featured a presentation by NAC member and Zeller Real Estate Principal Steve Herron on Zeller’s redevelopment of two iconic buildings in Chicago: 401 N. Michigan Avenue and the BOMA 360-designated Wrigley Building. Attendees also learned more about BOMA International’s new Green Lease Guide from Katherine Noonan, an associate with Ballard Spahr, who worked on the update. A boat ride on the Chicago River with a narrated tour of some of Chicago’s most well-known and iconic buildings—including the Zeller properties—added a local experience to the meeting.


Both U.S. and global economic growth are still accelerating—and the second longest economic expansion in modern U.S. history is underway.


BOMA International’s NAC is chaired by Shelby Christensen, senior vice president with Liberty Property Trust; Melanie Colbert, principal with LBA Realty, serves as vice chair. NAC’s next meeting is scheduled for October 24-26 in Las Vegas.

For more information, contact BOMA International Senior Vice President Patricia Areno at

This article was originally published in the July/August 2018 issue of BOMA Magazine.