An Executive Summary with Kim Diamond

The Executive Summary is a brief video series in which Bay Area real estate and land use professionals discuss the arc of their careers, personal interests, and the impact of ULI on their careers.

An Executive Summary with Kim Diamond

Kim Diamond is Principal at ev8, a real estate consulting firm focused on assisting clients with entitlement services, land valuation, asset disposition strategies, market analysis, and project management. Drawing from its 20 years of real estate experience and planning expertise, ev8 provides clients with a full spectrum of real estate advisory services.  In addition, on behalf of AvalonBay Communities, Inc, ev8 is actively involved with development of 182-unit apartment community in Hayes Valley in San Francisco. Specifically responsible for managing the process, including the consultant team, for the preparation and the submittal of the Environmental Evaluation application to City of San Francisco Planning Department to commence the CEQA review process.

Kim is an active member in the Urban Land Institute, currently serving as the Vice Chair for Mission Advancement on the local ULIsf Board.

Full Length Interview

My name is Kim Diamond and I have a real estate consulting firm called ev8.

First Job in Real Estate / Land Use Field:

My first job in the real estate and land use world was at a planning firm called MIG based in Berkeley.  I did public information programs and community outreach for private developers and public agencies to help our clients and also to really build public confidence in their decision-making process on a planning level.  I worked there for a few years, but the end result of my work was plans and documents that did not feel tangible or real enough and I had always been interested in the built environment and in real estate development.  So then after that, I went to work for Catellus Residential Group and it was a great place for me to get my start in real estate.  I worked on a number of different types of projects, all urban infill, mixed-use, mixed-income projects, master-planned communities and student housing projects.

Mentors in Your Career:

My biggest mentor in my life is my dad.  He has been involved in real estate development for over forty years.  He started the real estate practice for Kenneth Leventhal in Los Angeles, and then worked as a real estate developer in Orange County, building apartment communities.  He has always been in the background and in the forefront of my life, helping me, guiding me and advising me through the ups and downs of my career.

Greatest Career Satisfaction:

The greatest satisfaction in my career really has been the people—the amazing people that I have met along the way.  I have always looked at my career as one of relationship building.  Of course I have been very proud of the projects I have worked on.  Pretty much everything I have touched or worked on has involved some type of urban infill type of project and I feel proud that the projects I have worked on really meant that we were recycling and reusing the land that we developed into student housing projects or apartment communities or master-planned communities.  That has brought me great satisfaction in my career.

Toughest Challenges Faced in Your Career:

The toughest challenge of my career honestly has been the past few years.  It is not to say that when I began my career, which was in 1991 after I finished college (that was the time of a recession as well), that it was easy.  However, I was not quite as encumbered personally in terms of my family life at the time, so I was really able to take on unpaid internships to get great work experience.  When Pulte went through a round of layoffs in September of 2008, I was part of that and that was very tough for a number of reasons.  I really enjoyed working with Pulte and I kind of considered them family.  However, it really ended up pushing me into thinking about my career in a different way.  I probably wouldn’t have done it had I not been laid off from Pulte, but I ended up at that time starting my own consulting firm which has brought me a whole bunch of different interesting opportunities like working on Treasure Island for Lennar and working with Avalon Bay on a project in Hayes Valley.  So what was really a challenge for me and my career turned out to be a great opportunity as well.

Lessons Learned from Past Real Estate Cycles:

What I have learned from this cycle for myself personally and professionally is that you have to have persistence and you have to have faith.  It is not to say that I haven’t had moments of doubt and fear during this period of time, however somehow during all of this I always felt intuitively that it would be okay.  And that if I was willing to be flexible and do things that I had never done before, and think outside and do things outside of my comfort zone, that it would be okay.

Favorite Places in the Bay Area / World:

I have to say that one of my favorite guilty pleasures in terms of the built environment is the Ferry Building which I was just at on my way here to this interview. [Chuckle]  With the Ferry Building, I always marvel at the great transformation that the City in conjunction with a private developer made happen in terms of the transformation of that space and the amount of goods and little goodies and trinkets that you can buy.  Walking through this space where commuters and visitors are coming and going, it is just a great urban place in San Francisco.

Favorite Ways to Unwind:

One of my favorite things to do is to dance.  Over the past ten plus years I have been involved in a number of different types of dance, from swing dancing to hip-hop, believe it or not, and I take classes and have done a number of performances throughout the Bay area.  There is nothing like it and there is no better way for me to be in the present moment than through dance.

ULI’s Impact on Your Career:

ULI has impacted my career in so many ways that I cannot even go through all of them in one sitting.  ULI has been a place for me to develop incredible relationships with so many different people.  I started volunteering when I was under 35 through the Young Leaders Group and when I aged out of YLG I was lucky enough to have Rick Dishnica and Kate White sweep me up so I did not fall through the cracks; and they continued to get me involved on the program side and later with the executive committee.  So I thank them as well as a number of other people for being there for me.  During this last downturn as I was starting to get my feet wet and start networking, all of the people at ULI that I had met had really opened their hearts and spent so much time with me and were so supportive in helping me, in giving me advice as far as what my next step would be.  And because of everything that I have been given through ULI it just makes me want to give back even more.

The Executive Summary, developed by Rob DeWaters and Miles Garber, aims to foster wider professional and personal connections across the ULI San Francisco membership.