Posted almost 2 years ago

Get Out into the Real World: Property Tours

Recently, I had the opportunity to take three property site tours. These were real world development projects offering behind the scenes tours. I’ll describe the three tours in a moment, but first I want to briefly discuss why getting out and exploring “the real world” is so important.

The Real World

There’s a saying that that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Having worked jobs that I’ve loved and others that I’ve hated, I certainly agree with this sentiment. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, what matters is that you find what’s right for you. We all have unique skills, talents, abilities, and interests and so what’s right for one person may not be right for you.

The best way to find what’s right for you is to get out into “the real world”. If you’re a college student for example, you might love the academic nature of a subject. But you should keep in mind that academia and the real world are not the same. Eventually you’ll graduate and need to find a job. Volunteer, get a part-time job, find an internship, interview people in the field…. In short, find a way to find out what your day-to-day life will be like if/when you start the career you think you want.

Unfortunately, all too many people have started careers, several after years of study, only to find out that reality wasn’t what they expected. If this going to happen, you’re much better off finding out sooner rather than later. Maybe you’re in the right industry, but will decide to follow a slightly different tract. Or perhaps you’ll decide to change industries entirely. The best way to find out if you’ll be happy is to get that real world exposure. Don’t wait.

Aside from curiosity, this is one of the reasons that I went on these three recent property tours. It gave me an opportunity to envision myself as part of a development team. I told myself that if I found it boring, tedious, overwhelming, unappealing, etc. then perhaps I should consider something else. On the other hand, if I were to find myself engaged, interested, curious, and inspired then it’s a sign that I’m heading in the right direction.

Blend Apartments

Blend-SD is a mid-rise residential apartment complex located in the Linda Vista neighborhood of San Diego. The developer of this property shared a personal story about overcoming difficult circumstances, along with the sacrifices and risks that he was willing to take to become successful. It wasn’t an easy road, but his persistence paid off.

Studios here start at $1900/month, which for most parts of the country may feel rather expensive. In Southern California however there is a housing shortage and $1900/month is on the lower end of the spectrum for a safe and clean apartment. While the complex offers air conditioning, which is not a given in San Diego at this price range, it does not have parking for most of the units.

There is a program called Complete Communities aimed at providing more affordable housing and reducing the impact that development projects have on the environment. One way of doing this is to encourage people to use public transportation. Typically, developers are required to provide a certain number of parking spaces when they erect a building. But with this new program, the developer was able to save money by providing a limited number of parking spaces. Those savings can then be passed on to future tenants in the form of lower rents. A comparable apartment elsewhere in San Diego would likely cost $2300 a month or more.

Knauss Center for Business

The University of San Diego should complete construction of its new business building, the Knauss Center for Business, over the summer of 2022. Currently the different departments in the School of Business are located in various locations across campus. This building will allow these departments to finally all be under one roof.

The 120,000 square foot building is located directly across from the main library and will offer views of Mission Bay from its outdoor decks. The building will have a conference center, a data analytics and finance lab, and an outdoor courtyard that connects to the neighboring Olin Hall. Our tour was led by Dean Tim Keane who asked that his office suite be converted into a business suite upstairs where everyone could benefit from the space and enjoy the view. His office was then placed adjacent to the main entrance allowing him to be more accessible and less removed from everyday activity.

Badiee Industrial Development

Badiee Development builds Class A buildings for industrial and logistics use. The site that we had the opportunity to tour is located just north of the US-Mexican border. In fact, the border wall is visible from the site. Given its proximity to Mexico, users of industrial sites like this one can rely on transportation and employees from south of the border. Being minutes away from Tijuana International Airport and with nearby freeways leading to San Diego and Los Angeles, make it a strong location for industrial use.

Our tour guide was developer Ben Badiee, who offered inspiration and encouragement along with a smile for all in attendance. The site has been graded and the foundation placed. We were shown how the tilt up walls will be raised by crane and explained the sequencing of events from idea inception and optioning the land, to entitlement, construction, and leasing.

Comparing the Projects

While, each project was unique and represented a different property usage type (residential, office, and industrial), what stood out as the most unique distinction was how the tour was conducted. I wondered while I was taking these tours what the motivation or incentive was for the developers. What were they getting out of showing us around?

One developer got personal and shared his story about overcoming hard times. Another was full of energy and sounded like a motivational speaker. The other was more formal, though this one was led by an executive and not the developer. You can see pictures of the three projects on my website at