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

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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Monday, July 21, 2014

Entrepreneur's Thoughts #275

Take "NO" as a "Maybe If." Take "Maybe" as a "Yes When You." A "Yes" means it's Closing Time. 

However, an "I Don't Know" is a call to action.  What's the hesitation?

Is it your brand? 

Is it what you're offering? 

Or is it you?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Are Your RFPs Working For You?

Hellooo Detroiters, PPPers, and those of you who are NOT one of the more than 2 million people who "liked" Kanye and Kim's wedding kiss on Instagram!

Uh huh, honey 

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Are Your RFPs Working For You?

How many staff hours have you wasted on ineffective RFPs and inefficient RFP processes?

How many dollars have you lost on lawyers negotiating PPP deals based on bad RFP structures?

How many political headaches have you had because your RFPs (or RFP processes) are indefensible, unpredictable or just incoherent?

Do you know why your RFPs aren't working for you?  It's time to fix your RFPs now!

I have so much to say on this topic, I'm going to make this a three-part blog series.  In the tradition of those "Eat This, Not That!" segments, I'll call this segment of the blog series:

Do This, Not That!

*Do This:  Only ask for things you need to efficiently make a decision, or to get down to a short-list.

*Not That!   Ask for every single piece of information from every single bidder all at the beginning.  

Snarky Sidenote:  Do you really need ten hard copies? Why do you need my fax number?  What is this, 1987?

You keep it up, and I'm going to send my proposal in on microfiche.
Specific Advice:  Strongly consider (particularly in real estate development procurements) distributing a "Modified RFQ" as a precursor to a full-blown RFP.  The Modified RFQ process has two stages: 1) A qualifications stage where you analyze bidders on key qualifications only, and then 2) A second stage where you go through a more detailed analysis and request more extensive information.   You can "modify" the RFQ by requesting information in the first stage on any "deal breaker" factors that might usually be reserved for the second stage.  These deal breakers usually don't directly relate to the "experience" of the bidder, but are factors that would rule a bidder out for further consideration if the bidder's response doesn't meet a certain minimum standard of quality. So for example, you could ask for a detailed community engagement strategy as part of a modified RFQ, because if the bidder doesn't appear to be able to handle the particular community involved, you know that they (and you) are dead in the water.  Or you might request from bidders in the first stage their key team members' financials, letters of credit and financial partner information because you know that there's no deal if they don't have the dough.

Benefits of the Modified RFQ Approach:  The Modified RFQ allows you to first weed out bidders based mostly on their experience, financial capacity and analogous project qualifications.  This weeding out process occurs prior to reviewing detailed financial proformas, elaborate site and building designs and complex deal structures.  This approach saves you time and money from reviewing tons of submission materials from bidders you know aren't going to win, but who submit anyway. It is also fairer to the bidders themselves, who spend thousands of dollars on bids where they didn't really have a chance.  Finally, the second stage (where you request more detailed information from a small number of short-listed bidders) allows you to do a deeper dive with teams you know could win and therefore allows you to get better information that will lead to a better selection. 

*Do This:  Your scoring criteria and scoring allocations accurately reflect your project goals and priorities and the key factors which will cause you to choose one bidder over another. 

*Not That! The scoring criteria or weightings of each scoring factor have no coherent relationship to your stated goals on the project, or any alignment with your priorities when selecting between bidders. 

Snarky Sidenote:  Why do you keep asking for the "percentage of time each of your personnel will spend on the project"?  My answer doesn't seem to be that important because the scoring criteria includes no mention of personnel time.  Moreover, it's an 18-month long project that probably won't begin until 3-4 months after I put in my submission.  You realize you are forcing me to make something up right?  My ability to know how much time my team will spend, per person, on the project over the next 18 months, is as high as my percentage chance of predicting what Tyrion Lannister will do next to avoid death on Game of Thrones...

I'm going to try this in my next shortlist interview.
Specific Advice: It's worth saying again:  Your scoring criteria and scoring allocations must accurately reflect your project goals and priorities and the key factors which will cause you to choose one bidder over another.  Don't use the same criteria and weightings for every project.  Understand the priorities of the decision-makers on the procurement, and make sure the criteria reflect those priorities.  The worst thing is when a selection panel makes a recommendation to a decision-maker and the decision-maker wonders how they got there.

Benefits of Aligning Your Scoring With Your Goals:  Strategically selected criteria and weightings signal to your most coveted bidders that you want them to bid, and signals to folks who just routinely bid on everything that they don't have a chance.  Small firms clearly know whether they have a shot to win a project as the lead - bigger boys with "marketing coordinators" and single purpose "proposal writers" think twice about putting in a bid "just to see."  Alignment saves you time and gets you more worthy applicants.  If you want an efficient, effective, and defensible RFP process, your scoring, criteria and goals all have to be aligned.  If they aren't aligned your RFP and RFP process will suck -- just like that market study you just bought sucks.

*Do This:  Include a clear, concise and budget-realistic Scope and Deliverables in your RFP.

*Not That!  You're fishing.  You really don't know what you want -- or need -- so your Scope asks for the kitchen sink, it doesn't reflect your budgeting realities, and it's hard to decipher for bidder budgeting purposes.

Specific Advice:  Use pre-solicitation focus groups to better pinpoint your scope and which deliverables will fulfill your objectives.  Invite bidders in the applicable industry to share their thoughts on current best practices, the newest innovations and practical considerations.  Leverage their thoughts to write a more focused RFP.  Get their advice on how to get the best level of response from the most competent selection of bidders.  If a big priority is the participation of local, small or minority businesses, talk to these groups prior to sending out your RFPs as well.  Ask them what would induce a better response rate from more qualified firms within their group.  Lastly, I would advise that you only request a full budget from short-listed bidders, rather than from all applicants.  Why skim 10 budgets on the front-end when you could do a deep-dive on only 3 from firms you might actually choose?
Benefits of Not Fishing:  Value their time, and they'll value yours. Fishing expeditions get fishermen. We know when you don't know what you want.  We can see a champagne scope with a beer budget a mile away.  The best of us will not respond, the savvy among of us may put in a half-hearted effort, and the worst among us will leverage the lack of clarity to overpromise and underdeliver. 

So...those are my initial thoughts on why your RFPs aren't working for you. 
Do you agree or disagree?  Let me know in the comments!  PPPers, do you have suggestions on how government and philanthropic organizations can improve their RFPs? Put them in the comments!

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