MIT Create and Conservatorio ran a two-week action-based workshop with MSRED/SA+P Candidates, a SPURS fellow, and an alum for IAP to develop a new commercial asset for micro and small businesses in Panama City, Panama.
During IAP 2019, MIT Create and Conservatorio leveraged a two-week workshop in Panama City, Panama, to evaluate and detail the existing property market for micro to small businesses. A significant number of businesses in Panama City are micro or small businesses. An estimated 196,000 people work as street vendors in Panama City, an increase of 20,000 people over the last year, in a city with a population of one million people. This represents only one segment of the micro and small business market – and one that is often overlooked by real estate developers.
As Conservatorio seeks to develop new, diverse real estate assets that respond to gaps in the existing market, they saw an opportunity to leverage MIT Create’s experience working with micro-businesses in other global cities to inform Conservatorio’s approach to a new development in Panama City. For Create, a program in designX, working with Conservatorio provided an opportunity to work with a smart, innovative, values-based real estate developer, while also serving as a platform for MIT graduate students and one SPURS fellow to leverage and contextualize their MIT experience, and understanding of the micro-business economy, through a hands-on workshop.
“My time with MIT Create and Conservatorio over IAP has offered me the experience to implement my coursework at the CRE into industry practice. Our project focused on the informal economy and how to maximize return in a large mixed- used project while ensuring positive social impact for the community. This topic particularly interests me, as I want to focus on creating an ethical framework for real estate development, that finds the equilibrium point between profit and public interest for my thesis. A unique case study – Conservatorio’s work explored this complex relationship between the private and public.”
– Nicole Zaccack, MIT MSRED Candidate
The MIT Create team, augmented the primary data collected in Durban, with knowledge from their experience working with micro-businesses in Durban, Boston, Vancouver and Delhi. They utilized many methods to gather information, previously unconsolidated, including observations, site visits, surveys, interviews, and analysis of secondary data. The property market is largely opaque, making it difficult for anyone to truly have a command of the market intelligence. This data was used to analyze and identify opportunities for a mixed-vendor-retail space.
This was a prime opportunity to bring together multiple stakeholders to identify shared value. Patricio Conejero Ortiz, a SPURS fellow, calls this approach, “real estate with an urban planning lens.” Conservatorio will continue to utilize the workshop outputs as they develop their new asset model towards a new development.
IAP 2019 MIT Create Participants
Mercedes Bidart, MCP Candidate
Patricio Conejero Ortiz, SPURS Fellow
Nicole Zaccack, MIT MSRED Candidate
Ta Corrales, MIT Alum
Kate Mytty, MIT Center for Real Estate Visiting Lecturer & MIT Create – Director
John Kennedy, MIT Center for Real Estate Lecturer