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Tackling Urban Development Issues One Community at a Time

by Karen Wiesneski 13. July 2012 09:45

Difficult economic times are leading many local government leaders to ask, “What’s next?”  Many communities are at the tail end of the recession and are looking for answers on how to best position themselves to grow and develop. This was the case earlier this year in Hillsborough County (Tampa), Florida. This local government reached out to the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to assemble an advisory panel of professionals to conduct a one-week, in-depth study to help the County position themselves for future growth. The 10-person advisory panel was comprised of planners, real estate developers, market analysts, development attorneys and a traffic engineer. Pat Hawley, PE, PTOE (professional traffic operations engineer) of R.A. Smith National was invited by ULI to participate on this panel.

During the intense one-week study the panel was immersed in understanding the issues and recommending a solution. The panel’s efforts included participating in a project briefing by the County; conducting a bus tour and site visits; interviewing more than 100 stakeholders from a diverse spectrum of interests; analyzing, researching and evaluating the problem; and creating a final report with a recommended action plan. The study was completed in May and a presentation was made to Hillsborough County. ULI will publish the final report later this summer.

ULI coordinates approximately one dozen of these panels annually. The client is charged a fee for the completion of a one-week study. The professionals who serve on the advisory panels donate all of their time to this important effort.

Hawley, who has served on three of ULIs advisory panels since 2003, sees tremendous value in the process. “I am always amazed at the panel’s ability to quickly engage themselves in the project and identify the complex technical and personnel issues,” said Hawley. “The panel members challenge each other to truly understand the underlying root of the problem and recommend innovative solutions that address the client’s issues. Solutions that are realistic – not just a “pie in the sky” idealism that will never be implemented.  There is a positive peer pressure among the panel members as each participant wants to ensure his or her contribution is at the same high level as their fellow panelists.”

ULI is a membership organization with nearly 30,000 members in 100 countries on six continents. The organization represents real estate development, land use planning and financial disciplines in the public and private sectors.

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Karen Wiesneski
(262) 317-3292
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Chuck Stevens
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