In Atlanta, a program for the region’s public officials advances ULI’s mission
By: Scott Cullen, Chair, UrbanPlan, ULI Atlanta
“The best class I have ever taken as an elected official,” is how East Point Councilmember Thomas Calloway describes ULI’s UrbanPlan for Public Officials (“UP4PO”). In the spirit of advancing ULI’s mission to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide, ULI Atlanta embarked on its first UP4PO workshop on Friday, October 20. The event, held at City Hall in East Point, Georgia, included 15 public officials, including 13 elected officials from throughout the metro Atlanta region. Participating officials hailed from Decatur, College Park, East Point, Fairburn, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, Tucker, Clarkston, Fulton County and DeKalb County.
UrbanPlan for Public Officials introduces its participants to the tradeoffs and risks at play in the entitlement and negotiation process associated with real estate development, especially in public-private partnerships. Public officials engage in an interactive dialogue involving varying private and public-sector roles, complex trade-offs, and realistic economic restraints, while taking simulated risk decisions. Each official assumes a role on a development team in a simulated development exercise, and the case study is an example of a city-led redevelopment effort where compromise needs to be met among the locality, development team selected in the RFP, and the community.
Throughout the workshop, ULI volunteers met with each development team to assist with crafting responses to the RFP and with thinking through the various tradeoffs and risks associated with the development plan. The ULI volunteers, made up of a variety of real estate professions including architects, engineers, attorneys, brokers and developers, posed tough questions to the development teams. Tucker City Councilmember Matt Robbins stated that “the formal process gave me a better appreciation of what the developer has to consider.”
Upon completion of the project, each development team presents its plan to a Selection Committee, also comprised of ULI volunteers. This is a bit of a twist to the normal city council process – in UrbanPlan for Public Officials, the public officials have to present their plans before the real estate professionals for a vote! In the end, a team consisting of officials from Decatur, East Point, Chamblee and Tucker was declared the winner with its plan to maintain a small town feel with modern conveniences.
UrbanPlan for Public Officials workshops are ideal for local decision makers who would like to learn more about the fundamental forces that shape and affect the built environment and the important leadership roles that elected and appointed officials play in the real estate development process. As Fairburn Mayor Pro Tem and City Councilmember Hattie Portis-Jones commented, “all public officials need to take this workshop.” Additional workshops will be held in the Atlanta area in 2018. Please contact [email protected] for further information about upcoming events and involvement in ULI.
Scott M. Cullen is Executive Vice President, Land & Development Services with JLL Capital Markets.