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Published Veröffentlicht 25/04/2024

Reflections from Urban Land Institute’s Spring Conference

By Hamilton McCulloh

The Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) mission is to shape the future of the built environment for transformative impact in communities around the world. That’s big. 

Earlier this month, I joined more than 5,000 ULI members in New York City to share success stories and return home with tangible ideas to move that mission forward. It was ULI’s largest Spring Conference in its history – a terrific sign for the industry.

One thread that really struck a chord at the conference is how our cities represent the greatest challenges and opportunities. We know commercial office assets have an uphill climb, but it’s also true a higher percentage of us live in cities than ever before – a trend that will only continue in the long term. So how do we provide the necessary housing and quality of life for a thriving and diverse urban population? It’s complicated. But there are great examples to follow, and Public-Private Partnerships are critical to long-term viability.

Global Collaboration

C40 Cities is a global coalition of mayors working to implement an inclusive, science-based and collaborative approach to cut emissions in half by 2030 to build healthier, more equitable and more resilient communities. Their plans dovetail nicely with the work of the Transit-Oriented Development Institute and the 15-Minute City Project, which both work to create vibrant and more affordable live-work-play hubs by reducing commute times and the number of cars on the road. Their advocacy and example will set the standard for sustainable development planning.

Equitable Development

The need for more affordable housing, workforce housing and student housing is more critical than ever given the many societal benefits of people living near their jobs or schools. There is also a need to address housing for those who have traditionally lacked access to home ownership. 

Adre is an equity-centered development company in Portland, Oregon, that builds several product types and has a plan to address the “missing middle.” Oregon passed legislation in 2019 that allows variations to zoning laws to increase the number of duplexes and triplexes depending on a municipality’s population.

Public-Private Partnerships can deliver housing more cost effectively than market-rate development and more efficiently than an affordable housing development. In an ideal world, land is donated, state-funded grants are provided and municipalities offer a down payment assistance program.

Creating neighborhoods

Pier 57 is an amazingly ambitious project. Not only did its developers transform an old shipping pier into a significant office space for Google, but they also created a park and “living room” for the community that includes Market 57, a dining destination that offers more than a dozen kiosks operated by a mix of minority- and women-owned businesses. This 15-year project, led by the Hudson River Park Trust, required the collaboration of local, regional, state and federal agencies and the partnership of RXR, Jamestown and many others.

Start Spreading the News

To ultimately be successful and cause a positive ripple effect, everyone involved must celebrate successes and be an open book about lessons learned and best practices. That includes the non-profits, municipal governments, developers, designers, contractors and more – every entity makes these projects possible. Engage in community outreach, share personal stories through social and earned media, and speak at conferences. It takes a proactive and public campaign and a lot of patience to change the existing process through innovation. 

I really look forward to ULI’s Fall Conference in Las Vegas!

Hamilton McCulloh is an Executive Vice President with Allison, a global integrated public relations consultancy. He leads media relations and reputation management campaigns with a focus on the real estate sector for regional, national and global investors, developers, brokers, designers and builders.

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