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(Crystal Proenza is associate editor of Real Estate Florida.)

MIAMI-As the Urban Land Institute’s four-day fall meeting ended Thursday, professionals gathered at the closing session to hammer home crucial takeaways. Next year is being forecast as a challenge, but camaraderie is important during tough times, one audience member said. That spirit was apparent during the conference, as speakers shared their stories of failure and triumph with approximately 6,000 attendees in the hopes of bettering the industry.

“The road through 2009 won’t be easy. What we’re going to need is heart,” said Joseph E. Brown, COO of EDAW Inc. in San Francisco. He pointed out that discussions taking place in the hallways between sessions revealed that that heart is already present, as professionals shared stories proving that real estate is still alive and well.

Everyone is tired of the repetition from Wall Street, Brown said, and it’s time to think positive. Other panelists expressed that this is the perfect time to focus on getting creative with future development, finding new ways to define public and private partnership, work closely with tenants and start to look at cities in a new way.

“The best and most innovative real estate development is not being done in the US,” said Harry Frampton, managing partner of East West Partners’ western division in Beaver Creek, CO. A global perspective at this year’s conference brought the idea of working together to get through the downturn into the forefront. “There is no international escape,” said Brown, “only international risk reduction because of diversity.”

Eric Swanson, vice president of Flagler Development Group’s South Florida office, later told GlobeSt.com that even though the bulk of discussions revolved around the state of the credit markets, it was reassuring to know that “we’re going to get through this. The commercial real estate industry didn’t overbuild and we didn’t borrow,” he said. “The fundamentals are still good; we simply need to get through the credit crisis. There will be an end to this.”

During the closing session, Rick Rosan, ULI worldwide president, commented that it was gratifying to hear that even though things are terrible and the worst of the downturn is yet to come, there is a strong desire to keeping going and look toward the future. With that in mind, experts hope to be discussing the start of an uptick in the market at next year’s ULI fall meeting, to be held in San Francisco from Nov. 3-6, 2009.

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