SAN DIEGO-If you've been attending the ULI SpringMeetings for the past decade or longer, like ZebBradford, chief investment officer for Atlanta-basedMetzler Real Estate, has, you begin to have somekind of continuity, he tells “You can look back fouror five years to remember how bad the [commercial realestate] environment really was.”

Bradford remembers the Miami meeting five or six years ago whenPaul Volcker, economist and formerChairman of the Federal Reserve, told attendeesthat even though the market had already started to tip over, it wasgoing to get worse. “If people could have cancelled [theirattendance at the meeting,] half would have. That was the beginningof the downturn.”

Also frightening was the meeting in Atlanta roughly four or fiveyears ago, during which the cover story of Wall Street JournalProperty Week was a large retail project in Buckhead runninginto trouble. “Since then, we've seen a real gradual recovery,”says Bradford. “The sense I got out of San Diego is that people aremuch more optimistic. There's a lot of capital about and a lot moredeals getting done—certainly a lot more on the core and multifamily side than in other areas, but eventhe other areas are closing deals.”

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Carrie Rossenfeld

Carrie Rossenfeld is a reporter for the San Diego and Orange County markets on and a contributor to Real Estate Forum. She was a trade-magazine and newsletter editor in New York City before moving to Southern California to become a freelance writer and editor for magazines, books and websites. Rossenfeld has written extensively on topics including commercial real estate, running a medical practice, intellectual-property licensing and giftware. She has edited books about profiting from real estate and has ghostwritten a book about starting a home-based business.