Commercial Real Estate Lessons from Charles Darwin

By David Repka

I attended an Urban Land Institute (ULI) conference a few weeks back. During the coffee and continental breakfast I overheard someone being asked, “How’s business?”. Their reply, “I’m surviving… but survival is the new good”, got me thinking about Charles Darwin.

The key to understanding the parallels between Darwin and the crisis facing the commercial real estate industry is not in the “survival of the fittest” or “King of the Mountain” sense, but in understanding Darwin’s concept of adaptation. Adaptation is defined as “a combination of successive, small, random changes in traits, and natural selection of the variants best-suited for their environment.”

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