What’s MIPIM? In NYC, Nobody Knows.


It’s not just the biggest real estate conference no one has heard of. It’s the biggest real estate conference period. And, yes, most real estate professionals, at least in New York, haven’t heard of it.

Next week 19,000 guests from 90 countries will descend on Cannes, France, for MIPIM, a four-day event that roughly translates as “International Market for Real Estate Professionals” featuring speaking panels and networking opportunities that allow developers to shop major new projects to prospective tenants and investors.

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cannes 2 Whats MIPIM? In NYC, Nobody Knows.
Greetings from Cannes.

The conference is considered the biggest of the year on the global real estate event schedule. But in Manhattan’s tight knit, somewhat-insular real estate community, few know of it.

“I am not familiar with Mipim???” One developer with a major new speculative office building rising out of the ground emailed The Commercial Observer when questioned whether he was going.

The developer wasn’t the only one in the dark. Several prominent real estate executives interviewed by The Commercial Observer either weren’t familiar with the conference or weren’t planning to go.

Of course not everyone was taking a pass. The Related Companies and Oxford Properties, partners in the massive development project planned for the West Side rail yards, is setting up a booth at MIPIM, a source at the partnership said. Brookfield (BN) Properties, the real estate investment trust that has a competing large-scale development known as Manhattan West nearby is going to have executives attend. A person at the REIT said that it will be sending the company’s head of development based out of Britain, not New York executives like Related and Oxford are sending to represent the rail yards.

My-Lan Cao, MIPIM’s director of press said that the large real estate services companies Jones Lang LaSalle, Cushman & Wakefield (CWK) and CBRE would all have professionals at the event. She ceded that the list of New York names was short, but that a few high profile companies would be there, revealing that Thor Equities, the real estate investment company run by Joseph Sitt will be at the conference to give presentations on the Takashimaya Building, the roughly 100,000-square-foot Fifth Avenue retail and office building Mr. Sitt bought in 2010 for $140 million and has been trying to lease for near record breaking numbers.

Ms. Cao said that owners – like Mr. Sitt – in search of filling space can tap a global pool of tenants at the event.

The rail yards and Manhattan West will not be alone. Ms. Cao said that several large scale development projects from around the world will be represented at the conference. A proposed $4 billion development outside of Moscow envisioned by the Russian agency, the Skolkovo Foundation, that is being billed as Russia’s Silicon Valley for instance will be on display. Skolkovo is seeking partners, capital and developers.

“A number of cities will be there as well, including Paris, London and Berlin,” Ms. Cao added.

Ms. Cao, who is based in Paris, said that city was sending officials to solicit partners in major infrastructure and development projects it is seeking to plan and build in order to improve transit, create business districts and build new housing.

The Middle Eastern country Qatar, which has poured state resources into a large development outside the Olympic Village being built in London for the 2012 Summer Games, is also going to be at MIPIM to show off its project.

Some of the world’s largest capital sources will also be there. Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC, one of the largest investment pools, which famously pumped in nearly $7 billion into Citibank during the scary depths of the credit crisis, will be at the show Ms. Cao said.

So will some American money sources such as Lone Star Funds and TPG Capital. Ms. Cao said that the New York real estate financing consultant and equity placement firm Carlton Advisors was also scheduled to attend.

“About six of us are going,” said Howard Michaels, chief executive of Carlton Advisors.