Trends to Watch in 2021

Online, January 12, 2021


Tuesday, January 12, 2021, 10:00 AM–11:00 AM EST

With President-elect Joe Biden about to be sworn in, and light finally at the end of the tunnel for the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the political and public health uncertainties that have dominated economic forecasts and analyses over the past twelve months are coming to an end. But even as some dangers and unknowns begin to cede, the future now presents new types of risk—and new opportunities.

In this virtual event—the official “kickoff event” for AFIRE in 2021—panelists will provide a roadmap for the months and years ahead for commercial real estate investing. What’s next for the office sector? Which cities will grow, and which will shrink (if any)? What does the post-pandemic retail landscape look like?

Join fellow AFIRE members on Tuesday, January 12 to hear from the experts—and to share your own ideas—on the trends to watch in 2021.

This event is open to all members and invited guests.


Paula Campbell Roberts (New York) joined KKR in 2017, and is a US Consumer Economist and member of the Global Macro as well as Real Estate Americas teams.

Paula leads macro real estate investment research, and partners with real estate, private equity and credit deal teams globally to develop and diligence investment themes and opportunities. In addition, as the Head of Alternative Data within the Global Macro team, Paula leads efforts to leverage big data in due diligence as well as in identifying demographic and consumer-driven investment themes.

Prior to joining KKR, Paula was an executive director at Morgan Stanley, where she managed coverage of the US consumer sector, advised Fortune 500 CEOs on their consumer strategy, and used big data to predict inflections in key sectors of the economy. Before Morgan Stanley, she was a management consultant leading case teams and advising Fortune 500 companies at Bain & Co.

Paula earned her MBA from Harvard Business School, and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. Currently, she serves on the boards of The Brearley School, the Northside Center for Childhood Development, the American Friends of Jamaica and the Harvard Business School African-American Alumni Association. She is also a Compass Charter School Advisory Board member and a Lincoln Center Leadership Fellow.

Jim Costello is chief economist at Real Capital Analytics and has worked in the CRE space on issues of urban economics since 1990, including a 20-year stint at CBRE with the Torto Wheaton Research team. Jim expanded the reach of the Torto Wheaton Research developing forecasts of global market fundamentals. Jim also developed approaches to pair the forecast results with frameworks to answer investor questions on asset values and relative investment opportunities.

Jim provided advice to the Treasury Department and other policy makers in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis and helped educate these professionals on commercial real estate performance. Jim has recently been made a member of the Commercial Board of Governors of the Mortgage Bankers Administration and is working there as well to help policy makers understand our industry.

Jim is expanding the capabilities of the Real Capital Analytics team on issues of real estate market dynamics. Jim has a master’s degree in economics and is a member of The Counselors of Real Estate.

Mr. Franceschina, President of Metzler, has overall responsibility for the formulation and successful implementation of North American real estate investment strategies for the firm’s institutional and private clients. He brings nearly 30 years of progressive experience in finding creative solutions for redevelopment and repositioning of value add real estate. During his tenure, Mr. Franceschina has actively been involved in managing more than 20 million SF of commercial office space across all the major markets in the US. His success is attributed to his ability to plan and execute strategies finding value through the renovation and rebranding of assets.

Mr. Franceschina is active in several professional organizations including the Urban Land Institute, Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate and National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and holds professional designations of Certified Property Manager and Certified Commercial Investment Member.

Fidelidade Property Europe is the real estate arm of the Fidelidade Insurance Company Group. We invest in Portugal and worldwide, assuring the management of Fidelidade’s real estate portfolio.

Bouwinvest Real Estate Investors B.V. is specialised in managing real estate portfolios for institutional investors. Bouwinvest strives to achieve sustainable returns on behalf of its pension fund clients. We manage €12.9 billion (YE 2019) in assets within five Dutch property sector funds and three international real estate investment mandates in Europe, North-America and Asia-Pacific.

With 65 years of experience and a heritage rooted in pension funds and the construction industry, we understand the needs of long-term institutional investors and the dynamics of the domestic and international real estate investment markets. Bouwinvest has an experienced team of 180 investment professionals.

As CEO of AFIRE, Gunnar Branson brings nearly three decades of experience across commercial real estate, professional services, education, and association leadership.

Prior to joining AFIRE in 2018, he served as CEO of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Managers (NAREIM), and before that, he led strategy and marketing for Fortune 500 and other innovative mid-market companies.

As a recognized thought leader, Gunnar is a regular speaker, panelist, and spokesperson for the global real estate and investing community, focused on institutional investing, urbanism, sustainability, and future trends.


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Designed as part of AFIRE’s membership program, AFIRE Virtual Events provide a recurring digital format for AFIRE members to stay connected beyond in-person meetings.

AFIRE Virtual Events are recorded and made available for members only.


Asmait Tewelde, Meeting Director 202 312 1404

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