The FORT Podcast: Antonia Botero

On today’s episode, Antonia Botero, the Founder and Principal at MADD Project, joins Chris to discuss her experience in large scale multi-family conversions and ground-up development construction in Manhattan. They’ll discuss project & construction management in the real estate industry, how to hire a General Contractor, how to make a great contract, early things to do to make a project more successful, ways to save on project costs, holding contractors accountable, negotiating and much more.

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(02:35) – How did you become a wizard in project & construction management?
(06:31) – What does studying architecture mean from your perspective and do you recommend others do the same?
(09:57) –  How has technology opened the ecosystem for people to quickly study architecture?
(11:45) – What does ‘getting into the field’ mean to you? Why were you drawn to it?
(12:37) – Designing Feasible Buildings vs. Buildings that Simply Look Good in a Rendering
(15:29) – What is MADD Project?
(15:57) – Why is having an owner’s rep useful?
(19:45) – When is the best time to hire an owner’s rep in a project?
(22:35) – What is it like getting a project done in a mega-city like New York and dealing with community boards?
(27:32) – What’s the difference in breakdowns on the consulting side of MADD Project?
(30:53) – What’s the best way to hold contractors accountable to their timeline?
(33:29) – What are three things that make for a really strong contract?
(35:32) – Are you usually the GC on a project or do you help hire a GC?
(38:25) – What does bonding mean?
(39:29) – Which incentive structures work best with contractors?
(42:42) – What is a GMP?  (Guaranteed Maximum Price)
(45:20) – When entering a brand new market, what are things you want to hear from a GC before doing business with them?
(47:08) – What do drawings look like in a good place vs. a bad place?
(48:40) – How do you know who’s worked on a certain project when talking to GCs?
(49:25) – Have you learned any major lessons following big mistakes?
(58:07) – How do you deal with change orders if there’s ambiguity in the contract?
(1:00:12) – What next-gen construction form do you see having the most viable cost savings over the next 5-10 years?
(1:02:41) – Are you seeing signs that construction costs will come down?
(1:04:30) – Do you have a morning routine?
(1:06:03) – What’s the best advice you’ve received?
(1:06:22) – What is the best book you’ve read recently?
The Art of Asking – Amanda Palmer

(1:07:05) – How has twitter impacted you and your business?
(1:09:14) – If you owned a billboard on the side of the road, what would you put on it for the world to see?
(1:10:12) – Antonia’s Contact Information
Antonia’s Twitter


Episode Summary

Commencing the conversation, Botero underscores the significance of community engagement in real estate development. She posits that understanding and integrating community feedback into developmental projects can lead to sustainable and harmonious outcomes. Local insights, she suggests, aren’t just beneficial—they’re crucial to a project’s success and acceptance.

Botero’s journey across various international real estate markets offers listeners a glimpse into the complexities of global property development. She touches upon the need to respect local traditions, customs, and market demands. The adaptability and keen market sense required to navigate the diverse cultural and consumer expectations in these markets emerge as key themes.

Urban planning, a topic of paramount importance, receives due attention. Botero emphasizes the transformative role of efficient urban designs in enhancing societal well-being. The integration of green spaces, pedestrian-centric infrastructure, and comprehensive public transport systems form the crux of her views on creating holistic urban spaces.

Reflecting on contemporary demands, Botero sheds light on the shifting preferences of today’s real estate consumers. The increasing inclination towards mixed-use developments and properties offering holistic living experiences underscores the need for developers to stay attuned to these evolving demands. The real estate market, it’s clear, is undergoing a transformation, driven by consumer expectations and demands.

With urban centers witnessing an influx, the challenges posed by rapid urbanization come to the fore. Efficient infrastructure, forward-thinking urban design, and sustainable development practices are the need of the hour. Botero also touches upon the potential role of public-private partnerships and government initiatives in addressing the challenges of urban sprawl.

On the financial front, Botero offers invaluable insights into the dynamics of funding expansive real estate projects. Risk assessment, securing investor trust, and ensuring optimal returns on investment form the core of this discussion. The volatile nature of financial markets and the intricacies of securing funding are dissected, offering listeners a deep dive into the economic aspects of real estate development.

The conversation naturally veers towards technology’s growing influence in the sector. The advent of digital tools, according to Botero, has revolutionized property management, sales, and urban planning. The potential of technology to enhance user experiences and streamline operations is evident, signaling a tech-driven future for real estate.

Botero’s personal anecdotes add a touch of candidness to the discourse. Her experiences, both challenging and rewarding, serve as a testament to the unpredictable yet exciting nature of a career in real estate. Mentorship, resilience, and continuous learning emerge as guiding principles for professionals in the industry.

Sustainability, a topic of pressing importance, is addressed with fervor. Botero speaks about the industry’s palpable shift towards green building practices and the ethical imperative of considering environmental impacts in developmental projects. For Botero, and evidently for the larger industry, sustainability isn’t just a choice—it’s a responsibility.

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