Kristi Dowd
Senior vice president, Redgate
Age: 42
Industry experience: 20 years 

Boston-based developer Redgate is best known for major projects such as the 1.7 million-square-foot L Street Station in South Boston and recent luxury apartment projects such as 500 Ocean in Revere. Kristi Dowd is leading another growing business line for Redgate: its project management division. In that capacity, Dowd works on major institutional projects for health care and higher education clients ranging from Boston Medical Center to Dartmouth College. 

Q: What are some of the real estate goals in Boston Medical Center’s latest updates to its institutional master plan?
A: They serve the most underrepresented and underserved population in the city of Boston, and the pandemic highlighted a lot of the inequities in their patient population. Their patients are significantly underrepresented in clinical trials, especially when it comes to COVID and vaccinations. It’s forced them to take a closer look at health equity and making sure they have the right information they need to treat their patient population for the long term. That research building [proposed at 10 Stoughton St.] could be a combination of wet and dry research focused on clinical trials to treat their patients, and more computational studies on trends and statistics they are capturing around the social determinants of health. All of these health care institutions are taking a closer look at social determinants of health and figuring out ways they can collaborate together.  

Q: How are hospitals looking to optimize their real estate portfolios among rising values in Boston?
A: They are always looking at highest and best use with real estate advisors and how they can monetize their assets to pay for critical renovations that they need. It’s not any different than other types of institutional clients: always looking at highest and best use and extracting the money they can out of their existing real estate. They are looking at private developer partnerships if they sell off an asset and then lease it back, because it works for their operational bottom line.  

Across all sectors you see similar things with partnerships selling parcels and trying to utilize their assets in a mixed-use way. Stepping back from hospitals, there is a huge focus on resiliency, and the natural disasters we’ve seen over the past several years have heightened the awareness of investing in that. 

Q: How is Dartmouth upgrading its campus facilities as part of its master plan?
A: There’s two sides to that. The district-side campus distribution and energy plant, and then the building side and converting all of their buildings from steam to hot water. I was on the building side. The board had approved funding for infrastructure spending and now they are planning which buildings and components they are going to prioritize. It’s still in the planning stage and they are soliciting engineers. They have a central plant on campus right now, and it’s a fuel-burning plant. They have steam distribution on campus, and they have been looking at this very closely over the years, because their steam distribution has aged and there are areas of vulnerability. Coupled with the overarching goals of reducing carbon emissions and improving energy resilience on campus, they are looking at alternative energy plants that can generate the energy needed to supply the hot water to the buildings.  

Q: How has the pandemic affected higher ed clients’ spending on infrastructure and building projects?
A: There were two sides of the coin when the pandemic hit. There were those projects that were already funded and putting a shovel in the ground, and those continued. Those that were maybe just a concept went through feasibility studies to validate the potential costs and timelines to executive the project, but then would be put on the shelf for another year. There has been a lot of activity that has picked up since last fall which is continuing on the master plan exercises. A lot are taking a step back and taking a look at the campus infrastructure and opportunities to improve, whether it’s similar to Dartmouth in terms of energy or just understanding a lot of the infrastructure. There’s many that are doing life science programs and buildings like that. We still see a lot of activity with that. 

Q: How did you get your start in the real estate industry?
A: I was an assistant project manager who worked on residential development, a joint venture between the company owner and an industry colleague. It was a combination of an adaptive reuse and a historic rehabilitation of the old Boston College High School in South End and redevelopment of surface parking into a three-level, below-grade garage and 7-story apartment buildings. 

Dowd’s Five Favorite Things About Working in Real Estate and AEC: 

  1. Relationships that lead to great projects 
  2. Predictable unpredictability 
  3. Diversity of perspectives 
  4. Healthy competition 
  5. Experiencing great buildings 

An Adviser to Institutions on Monetizing Real Estate

by Steve Adams time to read: 3 min