An Executive Interview with Meg Spriggs
Meg Spriggs is a Managing Director at Shorenstein and is in charge of the company’s Multifamily Investment Group. She is responsible for sourcing, evaluating and overseeing the execution of multifamily housing transactions for the Shorenstein family, including financing, acquiring, entitling, developing, managing and divesting of properties, and supporting other Shorenstein professionals in the evaluation and execution of mixed-use projects with a multifamily component.
Ms. Spriggs is a member of Lambda Alpha International, and SPUR. Ms. Spriggs also serves on the board of directors for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and is a founding board member of ArtCare, in support of the public and civic arts programs of the San Francisco Arts Commission.
Prior to joining Shorenstein, Ms. Spriggs was a vice president of development for AvalonBay Communities, Inc. where she was responsible for land acquisition, design, entitlement, and permitting, as well as oversight of the construction and lease-up of multifamily properties in the San Francisco Bay Area region.
Full Interview Transcript
First Job in Real Estate
Well I started out actually in finance & software and after about 6 years of that decided I wanted to do something more tangible with my time. That led me to housing, really something I could touch and feel. I also really like working with lots of dispirit pieces of information, so housing development is really driven by data, demographics, design – the 3D’s I guess – and politics and financials. So that’s why it’s a fit.
Best Career Advice
Well this actually came from my mother, and I think it applies to everything in life which was, “focus on one thing at a time and do it well and move on”.
Proudest Career Accomplishments
I’d have to say being able to apply creativity to a pretty disciplined industry, and I think I’ve done that in a number of ways, but most effectively I think in collaborating with the key stakeholders for any development project. That would be city officials and staff. That would be community and neighborhood stakeholders, architecture and design teams. Even artists and their sponsors, in order to produce a building that positively impacts the built environment and hopefully creates a return on investment.
Toughest Career Challenge(s)
I think I would have to say youth, I got into development at the age of 30 and at that time my contemporaries were generally much older than me, and very early on I would go to meetings and it was not uncommon for me to be able to tell that someone was sort of doubting my experience level or ability to be effective, and I overcame it by really putting my head down and ignoring it for the most part, but also always doing what I was saying that I was going to do and establishing myself as a capable and productive contributor.
Impact of Forces: Past & Future
As it relates to housing development, I really think it’s been urbanization and advancement towards transit oriented development. A lot of forces have contributed to that, from demographics to the ageing baby boomer generation, to the preferences of generation Y, to gas prices, to the innovation and knowledge economy. All of those things have pushed people to really want to work and live in the urban core, and I really think that something is going to continue.
As we all know real estate is really a game of timing and sometimes you are lucky and sometimes you are not. I think that what many people have learned in the last cycle, certainly what I learnt in the last cycle, was being able when purchasing land to have some visibility into when you would actually be able to build a building. So I think getting caught in a bad situation with potentially lots of interests carry and overhead; carrying land through a down cycle; being unable to build, get a construction loan and move forward are things I’m very much trying to avoid in this cycle.
Favorite Places and Buildings
I think I would have to say my favorite building in downtown San Francisco is 560 Mission designed by Cesar Pelli. The building is beautiful and they’ve got an open plaza with bamboo and a kinetic wind sculpture, and they have managed to make it feel very urban and also serene at the same time.
ULI’s Impact on Career
I think ULI as an organization that is ready for you when you are ready to engage, and you truly get out of it what you put into it. There is an ideology at ULI that you should not be shy, the membership should not be shy to share their struggles and their risks and challenges with each other, and I think that open kimono approach is really what’s valuable about the organization. I would encourage any member or potential member to pull up a chair at the table and see what it’s all about.
The Executive Summary: Season 2 was developed by Rob DeWaters, Virginia Rocha, Ashley Camps, and John Means. It aims to foster wider professional and personal connections across the ULI San Francisco membership.