About 20 years after its only stop in Miami, the annual CREW Network Convention & Marketplace is back this week – and with a major headliner slated to deliver a keynote speech: former First Lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Founded in 1989, CREW (or Commercial Real Estate Women) is a real estate networking organization of nearly 9,000 members focused on the advancement of women in commercial real estate.
The event runs from Tuesday to Friday at the Loews Hotel in Miami Beach. “CREW could not have picked a better time to come back to Miami,” CREW-Miami Karyl Argamasilla told The Real Deal. “The city is experiencing a high inbound rate of investment and tremendous growth.” Miami’s hosting gig presents an opportunity to show attendees from around the U.S. and Canada the strength of the local real estate market, according to CREW-Miami past president Danet Linares. “We’re expecting more than 1,100 members,” Linares told TRD. “Having them see firsthand the development occurring in Miami and carrying that message back to their cities is significant.” Argamasilla, Linares and other CREW-Miami members began planning their pitch to the organization’s national leaders while attending the 2010 CREW convention in San Francisco. “We were awestruck,” said Argamasilla, a commercial real estate attorney.
“We began mapping out what we needed to do to bring the convention to Miami.” Two years later, CREW’s board of directors picked Miami to host the 2014 convention. Argamasilla claims the decision is already paying off. “We’ve got the highest number of pre-registrations than any of the previous conventions,” she says. “Members are excited to be coming to Miami.” Argamasilla acknowledged landing Clinton as the keynote speaker had a huge impact on the expected attendance. “The organization as a whole is [focused] on women breaking the glass ceiling,” she said. “Hillary Clinton has definitely broken it. She epitomizes what CREW is all about.” Other prominent speakers include Forbes Media Chairman and CEO Steve Forbes, BBC Worldwide America lead anchorwoman Katty Kay and former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, who will give a presentation on Miami 21 on the city’s revamped zoning code.
CREW-Miami also organized several tours of the city’s hottest neighborhoods. On Tuesday, the first tour will take about 100 participants through the Financial District to view projects under construction, including Swire Properties’ $1.1 billion Brickell City Centre. The bus will stop at the EPIC Hotel for a luncheon featuring presentations by Ugo Colombo and SkyRise Miami developer Jeffrey Berkowitz. Other planned tour stops include PortMiami, Miami International Airport, Miami Beach, Wynwood and Miami’s Design District, where developer Craig Robins will talk about the transformation of the neighborhood into a luxury retail destination. “Most of these excursions have sold out,” Linares said. “It is an incredible opportunity to showcase Miami as a global city.”
By Francisco Alvarado