Life at the intersection of public-private partnerships, neighborhood regeneration and real estate development.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The 3 Things You MUST Consider When Choosing a City Agency Director

IMHO:  You must have at least 2 out of 3 to end up with a great director.  

Let's discuss.

-- Calvin

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Convergence of Place and Pace?

Convergence of place and pace? A developer and a fitness chain buy NYC's bikeshare.  What will this mean for this key component of public mobility infrastructure if a private developer owns it? http://t.co/xM1Rb8t3bC 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The 5 Pillars of a Citywide Revitalization Strategy

Helloooo Detroiters, PPP'ers and those of you who will absolutely, positively, be watching the Scandal season premiere this Thursday!

Will Olivia Pope wear white after Labor Day?

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Here's the Executive Summary of this entire Blog Post for all of you busy PPPer's:

The 5 Pillars of a Citywide Revitalization Strategy

*BOOM* (I just dropped the microphone and walked off of the stage.)

The 5 Pillars of a Citywide Revitalization Strategy

There’s plenty of buzz these days about the comeback and preeminence of cities.  Bruce Katz has written about it in The Metropolitan Revolution. Edward Glaeser has trumpeted cities in The Triumph of the City:  How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier.

In contrast, two of Mr. Katz’s colleagues, Elizabeth Kneebone and Allan Berube, recently wrote extensively about the epic struggles with poverty occurring in the suburbs. Not only are the suburbs struggling with poverty, they're also struggling with, well, urbanity. As an example, Ellen Dunham-Jones has led the call to have suburbia "retrofitted."  To me, much of that retrofitting seems designed to bring the urban amenities of the city out to the suburban people who fled those same cities! Cities are the new golden child of our country, and the country's population is getting increasingly urbanized.  This is not just a U.S. but a worldwide phenomenon-- the UN announced in June that more than half of the world's population live in urban areas.  It’s almost become axiomatic that the city is the [revitalized] place to be. 

"If I can maaaake it there, I can make it...anywhere!"
What’s discussed less is the “how.”  How are urban cities revitalizing themselves?  What is the one strategy that has brought cities like Pittsburgh, Washington, DC and yes, New York back from the dead?  What’s the silver bullet which will save the day? 
The answer:  There isn’t just one strategy.  There isn’t just one plan.   As we discussed in a previous post, there isn’t one silver bullet that works for all cities.   

A successful citywide revitalization strategy is really the synchronization of 5 sub-strategies and plans. 
I call these 5 sub-strategies and plans "The 5 Pillars."  The 5 Pillars are the core components of any sustainable and equitable revitalization of an urban city.

The point of this blog post isn't to go into a detailed dissertation on each of the 5 Pillars, but I do want to point out the key activities, topics and issues that tend to fall within each of the Pillars.  Cities will differ on how important is each Pillar -- however, every city will ultimately need a solid foundation for each Pillar.  Each Pillar, is not, however, an end goal itself-- they are only tools to be used to achieve the larger vision for the City.  Accordingly, the creation and implementation of each Pillar-- i.e. each plan and strategy-- must be synchronized, prioritized and designed to achieve the same goal:  the actualization of the residents', Mayor's and City Council's vision for the city.  

Let's briefly discuss each of the 5 Pillars below:
Pillar:  Land Use Policy & Zoning.   Cities signal their long-term vision for the city through their land use policies and plans.   However, those land use policies and plans are only as good as the zoning laws and regulations that implement the policies.  Policies are necessary, and nice, but investors and developers want to know what the law says.  They follow the rules, not the suggestions.  Use the combination of land use policy, zoning laws and regulations to signal to residents, stakeholders and the private market where your city is going -- and where you want them to go.   This need for thoughtful follow-through is being recognized by smart policy makers through out the country.  As an example, in Detroit the Kresge Foundation and the DEGC have opened an implementation office to assist the city in moving forward Detroit's land use vision

To achieve a land use vision you have to plan AND implement. 
Pillar:  Housing & Commercial Corridor Strategy.  What type of housing do you want built in your city?  Where do you want these new product types built?  How many units?  By when? By whom?  As your city improves, how will you deal with issues of affordability and equity?  How does your housing strategy deal with your homeless problem (almost every city has one)?  What will the city do, spend and support to achieve these goals?  Commercial corridors in urban neighborhoods either connect or divide communities. What's your revitalization, stabilization or celebration (for thriving corridors) plan for each of your cities' key commercial corridors?  What tools do you have or could create to implement those plans?

Pillar:  Economic Development Strategy.  "It's the economy stupid," a pretty famous guy once said.  It's about jobs! Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. 
No, no, not that Jobs.

It's also about workforce development to help current residents access and compete for those jobs. The plan must include a focus on industries.  What industries can support the needs of your city?  Where can you realistically be competitive to recruit or bolster those industries?  Small business and local entrepreneur support, recruitment and retention are key.  A branding and marketing strategy for the cities' industries and small businesses- both current and desired - is necessary.  But economic development cannot be truly achieved without a baseline quality-of-life for your cities' residents.

Pillar:  Quality-of-Life Plan.  A citywide quality-of-life plan has to have both a citywide and a neighborhood level perspective.  Its key components include implementable strategies on:

  • Public Safety
  • Public Health
  • Open Space/Placemaking; and
  • Blight
A special word on blight.  Many cities are making real strides to eliminate blight in their cities.  I was a working member of the Dan Gilbert-led Detroit Blight Removal Task Force, and it is clear that the eradication of blight in cities requires an interdisciplinary and holistic strategy to achieve long-term success. There are tons of definitions of blight, but in many ways you know it when you see it. 

This is clearly blight on a city.
This is clearly blight on a city too.

Pillar:  Transportation & Mobility Plan.   I often get the feeling that some cities believe that a defined citywide strategy for transportation and mobility is a luxury, something only big boy cities do, not something that every urban city needs.  That sentiment is dead wrong.  A city cannot achieve its' economic development and quality-of-life goals without a forward-looking, innovative and correctly resourced transportation & mobility plan.  I'm not just talking about the current sexy like streetcars and light rail, but basic stuff like are there functional sidewalks and crosswalks for pedestrians; are there buses that can take residents to jobs centers; and are there bike lanes and paths for bikers? (Yes, I said it-- bike lanes, bike paths and the ability to navigate a city by bike are BASIC transportation infrastructure, not luxuries.)  

So those are the Five Pillars of a Citywide Revitalization Strategy.  But...

The implementation of the 5 Pillars is not the end goal.  The 5 Pillars only serve as tools to execute on the long-term vision for the city.  So first the city – often led by the Mayor and City Council but now sometimes led by philanthropic and non-profit interests– must create and communicate a narrative vision for the city.   Only after that vision is in place, and there is general buy-in from the city’s residents and key stakeholders, can the sustainable implementation of the 5 Pillars begin.
You Must Have a Citywide Vision for a Revitalization Strategy to Be Successful.
So there you have it. 

Does your City have a Citywide Vision and the 5 Pillars in place to create and implement a sustainable, equitable and innovative Citywide Revitalization Strategy?

Let me know what you think!

-- Calvin

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The P3 is Dead, Part 2: Have You Experienced the Power of the People in Urban Placemaking?

Helloooo Detroiters, PPP'ers and those of you who will continue to celebrate the life and unique comedic genius of actor Robin Williams...

Robin Williams as Mork in "Mork and Mindy."  They'll never be another one like you Robin.

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The P3 is Dead, Part 2: Have You Experienced the Power of the People in Urban Placemaking?

I wrote my last blog post, The P3 is Dead:  The Rise of the P5 as the 21st Century Tool for Placemaking and Urban Regeneration, to spark a conversation about a shift in the landscape of urban placemaking and neighborhood revitalization.  And boy did a conversation get sparked!  Thousands of you PPP'ers read, forwarded and posted the blog post (thank you so much!), and many of you wanted to know more about how each of the players fit into the grand scheme of P5 Partnerships.
Well you asked for it and now you've got it! This post will be the first of my new 5-part blog series spotlighting each of the "Ps" within the P5 Partnership universe.  
These are the 5 Ps in a P5 Partnership- rather than just the 2 Ps in a public-private partnership ("P3").
This blog post will focus on the P for People. 

The People as Urban PlaceMakers and Neighborhood Change Agents

How are the People positively impacting urban neighborhoods in a different way than in the old P3 model of the past?

Individual People can now be the catalyst and the implementer -- no longer do the People have to wait for the public or private sector in a P3 framework to implement neighborhood revitalization projects.

As an example of the more robust power of the People to create a P5 to effect neighborhood change, let's discuss New York City's famed High Line.  Friends of the High Line Co-Founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond didn't wait for the government or the private sector to try to save an elevated rail spur from demolition in a New York neighborhood -- they just did it!

The Friends of the High Line Founders.  Photo by Joel Sternfeld.  Source:  www.thehighline.org blog
Those guys single-handedly catalyzed a P5 Movement to revitalizate the High Line and the surrounding neighborhood.  Joshua and David (two individual "Ps" who had never met before) sat next to each other at a community meeting on demolishing the High Line and realized they both wanted to stop the demo.  They decided to form a non-profit called Friends of the High Line (another "P"), received private and philanthropic donations (that's two more P's!), and simultaneously leveraged the Herculean (and multimillion dollar) efforts of the Bloomberg mayoral administration (yep, the public sector-- the final "P" in the High Line P5!).  It took all of the P5 Players to re-envision and remake the High Line.

The High Line was and is a People-powered P5.  Joshua and David became the change they wished to see in the world.  And they used every player in the P5 universe to do it.

This is what the High Line looks like now
The Rise of People-Powered Placemaking with all of the P5 players isn't just a New York, big city, massive project thing -- it's happening around the world and is driving small-scale change too!

Jeniffer Heeman of Curativos Urbanos in Brazil didn't wait for the government to help revitalize her neighborhood, she and others went out and did it themselves!

Jeniffer, who I met at a PPS Placemaking Leadership Council meeting, is 2nd from the left.
The "urban bandaids" in action

So why is this happening with greater frequency now? Why are there all of sudden many more P5 Partnership projects driven by People and revitalizing neighborhoods?   

There are TWO reasons the High Line, Curativos Urbanos and other People-driven placemaking projects like the Heidelberg Project in Detroit have been able to leverage P5 Partnerships:

1) The Internet and
2) Mobile applications or "apps" that leverage the Internet.

The Internet and mobile apps are resource-raising, fundraising and awareness-raising tools that have changed everything for individuals.  You probably used a new mobile "app" today, didn't you? 

Hey man, I got this new mobile technology I wanna show you
You have some blight in your neighborhood and want the blight removed?  In Detroit and other cities you can leverage a smartphone app created by Detroit tech start-up Loveland Technologies and others to "blext" information and update a public mapping database that will include detailed information and highlight the problem properties. You could also work with Mosaic and the Urban Imprint team to train you on how to use the State of Place tool to help you assess your block or your neighborhood, and then affect change.  State of Place™ is a data-driven decision-making and community engagement tool used by communities and funders to guide investments, interventions and policies that boost walkability and economic development in urban neighborhoods.  The State of Place tool and Loveland's blexting technology are only two of the many applications and Internet-based technologies empowering the People. Whatever tool you use, you and your community members can now collect, reconcile and analyze important neighborhood placemaking data so that you are working with defensible information on the variables that directly affect a neighborhood's future.  

There are so many things a neighborhood needs to survive, regenerate and thrive... how will the new power in the hands of People change the dynamic of neighborhood revitalization? 

This info-graphic by Australia-based "Thriving Neighborhoods" shows everything needed to make a neighborhood thrive.

Individuals and the community can now arm themselves with data, share it and broadcast it worldwide, and get the public sector, private sector and the world to conspire with them to implement their revitalization vision-- if they're not too busy implementing their vision themselves! 

Who can stop the community when the strength of their beliefs is matched by the strength of their data?

The roles and responsibilities of CDCs, CDEs, CDFIs and neighborhood non-profits will also have to change, no?

What will be (or should be?) the role of community organizations going forward when there's more power in the hands (literally) of the People? 

Behold the rise of the individual.  Behold the rise of the People.  Behold the rise of the P5.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

The P3 is Dead: The P5 as the 21st Century Tool for Placemaking and Urban Regeneration

Hellllooo PPPers, Detroiters and those of you don't know the difference between boy bands One Direction, The Vamps and Five Seconds of Summer (5SOS)! 

Which group's lead singer is this?  Put your answer in the comments!
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The P3 is Dead: The P5 as the 21st Century Tool for Placemaking and Urban Regeneration

"It takes a village to raise a child" - African Proverb 

If you think of urban regeneration projects as your babies (like I do), then you see the applicability of the proverb above:  It takes a village to get community development projects done!

It also takes a village to raise Honey Boo Boo!
Not only does it take a village to get placemaking and urban redevelopment projects done, it also takes every tool in our toolkits, including Public-Private Partnerships (or "P3s").  However, if you think about the urban neighborhoods and cities that have the greatest challenges, or the placemaking projects with the greatest obstacles, you'll see a new trend:

The P3 is dead because the village has expanded.

Let me explain.

A public-private partnership (or "P3") is typically made up of only two players: The Public sector and the Private sector.  Those two players collaborate, allocate resources and risks, and get a project done. 

A diagram of the P3 Village looks like this:   
"Juuuust the two of us.  We can make it if we tryyy, just the two of us.  You and I."  - Bill Withers
But when you analyze the most complex urban placemaking and community development projects around the country, you'll find that getting things done is no longer a two-player (P3) game. 
The village has expanded. These projects take a village where there are 5 players working together to get things done. 

Behold...the Rise of the P5!  The Village looks more like this: 

Public.  Private.  Philanthropic.  Non-Profits and the People!
As you can see in the chart above, in addition to the Public and Private sectors, there are three new players actively making urban regeneration projects happen:
  1. The Philanthropic Sector;
  2. The non-Profit Sector (non-community based); and
  3. Everyday People
The increased public presence, activity and resources of these three players changes everything.

It changes the scale of projects.

Do you know a philanthropic organization that is taking a public role in a large-scale urban revitalization project? Many of these current projects wouldn't happen without proactive philanthropic support.  For example, in Detroit there are a number of philanthropic organizations that are actively supporting urban redevelopment projects: Kresge, Skillman, Ford, Surdna, and Hudson-Webber all come immediately to mind.  The newest philanthropic player in Detroit is JP Morgan Chase, which recently announced a $100M investment in Detroit's redevelopment efforts.   $50M of that $100M investment is being made into CDFIs.

Source:  www.jpmorganchase.com
The new prominence and assertiveness of the Philanthropic sector is not limited to Detroit. You'll find foundations and philanthropic organizations catalyzing urban revitalization projects all around the country, including my friends over at Anne E. Casey in Baltimore, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation in Baton Rouge, and at the Rockfeller Foundation, in, well everywhere! 

Anne E. Casey supported the first new school built in East Baltimore in 20 years
The Second New Player is a Not New in General, but is newer to this game:  

Non-Profits which are not neighborhood or community-based.

I won't talk long about community-based non-profits since they have been the on-the-ground leaders of neighborhood revitalization efforts for decades.  They have also been critically important and will continue to be until the last neighborhood has been regenerated.  However, the non-profits that represent the new players in the P5 world are the national, regional and non-neighborhood-specific non-profits who are actively creating, impacting and leading revitalization efforts.   When I say "non-neighborhood specific" I am referring to non-profits that are not based in a particular neighborhood or community.  Examples include national non-profits like LISC, NeighborWorks and Enterprise who are doing wonderful work in urban neighborhoods around the country.  They also include non-neighborhood based (but area-focused) organizations like CDAD (focused on the entire city of Detroit) or BRIDGE Housing Corporation in San Francisco (focused on affordable housing development throughout California).  All of these non-community specific non-profits are putting their imprint on neighborhood revitalization by bringing a different set of resources, experiences and perspectives to the table.  
I worked on BRIDGE's Mandela Gateway TOD project in Oakland.  Source:  MWA Architects.
Finally, the Rise of the P5 also changes who are the Placemakers in neighborhoods:

Everyday People are becoming the placemakers and redevelopers in neighborhoods.

Tyree Guyton didn't wait to effect change in his neighborhood in Detroit.  He just did it.
Mr Guyton isn't a public official and he isn't a private developer. He is just one of the everyday People around the country deciding to personally become a placemaker and changemaker.  There is power in the People!!  A big reason everyday People are able to effect neighborhood change is the revolutionary capacity of the internet and mobile applications ("Apps").  Websites like Fundrise, Motor City Mapping (shoutout to Jerry, Mary and Mike at Loveland in Detroit!) and Kickstarter all let individuals spark and make change happen in their neighborhoods. 

Conclusion.  So there you have it.  The P3 is dead because the predominate tool in the regeneration of urban neighborhoods, and impactful placemaking in the future, will be P5s.  

What do you think?  Share with us in the comments examples of P5s in your city.  My next blog post will discuss an example of a deal in Detroit, and how the 5Ps play a part in getting it done. 

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