It’s good to be back in Cannes for another Mipim, although the city is still undergoing a major facelift, with one side of the Croisette excavated and closed to traffic and barricades preventing direct access to some of the beach restaurant venues.
The city of Cannes has embarked on a major refurbishment and redevelopment programme designed to ‘reinvent its legend’. Following the ongoing restoration of its underground water network (which may account for the occasional wafts of sewage), work to enhance the public areas is due to start in 2024. The good news is that the refurbished Carlton Hotel, which I had expected to be closed for Mipim, reopened yesterday afternoon and is already packed with Mipim-goers. It has had an amazing facelift without losing the character of this iconic building. It is brighter and airier and now has access to a landscaped garden area and terrace at the back. I’m also pleased to report that the Voilier restaurant, which yesterday looked as if it was permanently closed, has miraculously sprung back to life.
It is reassuring, after the hiatus caused by the pandemic, to find that so much remains the same. The historic Maschou restaurant in the old town is as fabulous as ever and I defy anyone to get through the enormous basket of crudités that is one of the set courses. Thank you, Harvey Soning, for once again hosting a perfect first night at Mipim.
Day one started with a sunny Women in Property breakfast. It’s good to see so many women from different parts of the real estate sector networking together particularly as, although there is still a long way to go, there are very many more women delegates at Mipim than in previous years.
The London model is back in its rightful place on the London Stand. I have to say that its symbolic presence was very much missed last year. And it’s great to see Opportunity London in pride of place on the London Stand. This is a new initiative supported by the London mayor, London councils and the private sector to promote investment in London. We had a great Opportunity London pre-Mipim launch party hosted by Convene at 22 Bishopsgate to promote the power of partnership, which is, of course, crucial to its success. Barking & Dagenham leader Darren Rodwell commented to me that Opportunity London is quickly gaining traction and support and that it is now mapping as many as 150 investment opportunities. Watch this space!
It was an unexpected treat to listen to a keynote from the charismatic Professor Carlos Moreno, architect of the 15-minute city at the Drees & Sommer party. I have had Dr Moreno on an online panel, but this was the first time I had seen him in real life. He talked about his concept of the 15-minute city in which public space is for people and not for cars. In the new pyramid of priorities, pedestrians come first and the single-ownership car is last. He also talked about the need for more vibrancy and social interaction and said it was unsustainable to have single-use buildings.
A huge thank you to Roger Clarke and the IPSX team for hosting an excellent lunch at Môme on the beach. They have recently announced their fourth IPO and have £600m of assets under management and further deals are in the offing. It’s quite a coup that London is home to the world’s first regulated commercial real estate stock exchange. Chatting about Mipim, Clarke said that its secret ingredient is the unplanned meetings. It’s so true. At the VTS drinks party I reconnected with Jason Presence, who has recently joined Investec from NatWest Bank and whom I hadn’t seen for a while. He was at Bank of Ireland when we first met, so that goes back a few years! I also ran into James Burchell of Tellon Capital and caught up with him on how his business has expanded since we last met.
There are already so many more examples of the serendipitous meetings that were missing from our online lockdown networking. A reminder, in case it was needed, of why we come to Mipim.