New Urban Revitalization Strategies

As they search for a different and more livable future, city leaders — from public and private and independent sectors — experiment with strategies to revitalize and renew their urban communities. Speakers from the US and beyond will share their strategies and innovative projects that are pushing the envelope in urban design, new work/life arrangements, and new brownfield redevelopment strategies. How well are these experiments progressing? Which ones are moving beyond the experimental phase? Are lessons learned replicable, scalable, transferable?

  • Moderator: Relina Bulchandani, Global Lead, Connected Real Estate Practice Internet Business Solutions Group, Cisco
  • Bas Boorsma, Urban Innovations Specialist, Director Internet Business Solutions Group, Cisco (via Telepresence from Amsterdam)
  • Edmund Woodbury, President, McCaffery Interests
  • Susan Osborne, Mayor of Boulder, Colorado
  • Michael Ohm, Partner and Office Managing Partner, Bryan Cave LLP


Relina Bulchandani

We’re seeing this urbanization trend. Nick Villa talked about going from 300 million devices to 1 trillion devices, massive data. We’re also seeing the need for sustainability on three levels; not just environmental, which we’ve spent a lot of time on, but on economic and social.

Going into this discussion – I want to just level set with – we’ve really picked a diverse panel. We tried to think through a developer’s perspective, and we have Ed Woodbury from a developer perspective from McCaffery Interest. We have Michael Ohm from a policy, environmental perspective from Bryan Cave. We have Bas Boorsma via telepresence from Amsterdam, from a technologist perspective. Bas is with Cisco and one of my colleagues. And then we are grateful to be in Boulder, and I want to thank Mayor Susan Osborne for giving us the reality – how’s life on the ground, what’s the public sector’s perspective.

As we’re going into this, we also are aware of, we keep hearing things like Songdo, Korea, 1500 acres driven by technology, Toronto Waterfront revitalization, but ultimately, sometimes, I live in Manhattan and I spend a lot of time in a new area, which I think is a brilliant job by the city around urban revitalization, which is the highlight. They’ve done this incredible job of just taking the core of the city and moving it out to the edge. There’s new retail, there’s new hospitality, there’s life in a part of this city that did not exist previously in the way that it does now.

I think we can also think through technology and how much it can help us. But ultimately, I think we can also hear about, how are our cities revitalizing in ways around social inclusion and economic inclusion as well as the environmental perspectives?

So without further ado, I’m going to actually – the way I’ve structured the panel is we’re going to have introductory comments from each speaker, as well as thinking through my first question. I’m actually going to put up the first question here before we move over to the speakers, which we want to understand what kind of projects – what are our panelists actually working on.

What innovative urban revitalization strategies are you currently working on? What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced? What have been some of the solutions to these challenges?

Whoever’s phone is ringing is buying dinner tonight or has to leave the room.

With that, I’m going to start with Ed Woodbury, and then we’re going to go through each panelist for about five minutes each, and then I want to open it up for about a five minute Q&A. Then, we’ll move onto the second question. We’re going to have less PowerPoint, some PowerPoint, but lots more engagement. If you have a pressing question, come up to the mic. We’ll actually try and engage and have a conversation.

Go ahead.

Edmund Woodbury

We’re going to go a little bit more on the ground. In the morning sessions, we heard a lot of high level thinking, and we’re going to get right on the ground here and show a development that we’re working on at McCaffery Interest, and the U.S. steel are working on right within the city of Chicago.

This is a project we call Chicago Lakeside. It’s on the very south end of Chicago. It’s a 500 acre redevelopment of a former steel mill. It is, and you can see the status of the site around WWII during its full operations, actually built as a landfill project, so all the remnants of the steel making operation went into the lake. It was built on top of a lakebed.

The right hand slide shows you the site as it is today, so all the steel making operation’s gone away. It’s kind of a statement of America. All the high industrial jobs or great industrial jobs have largely gone offshore.

So we developed a master plan. We started engaging in this in 2004 and developed a master plan for the entire sites. I had it completely rezoned for obviously manufacturing districts, sophisticated urban grid, which ties into the existing city grid. The master plan includes 13,500 residential units and up to 20 million square feet of commercial and institutional use.

We’ve also planned retail and shopping opportunities – the part that you see as Phase One there noted as – is a town center for the south side of Chicago. Its major theme of this site is, thankfully – and Cisco likes this a lot – connection back to the city.

The main asset of Chicago, obviously, is Lake Michigan. We’re going to take advantage of that and the park system that exists in grand style all the way up and down the Lakefront; the Burnham plan, we’re going to complete on the very south side of Chicago. The Lakefront park systems in Chicago are really Chicago’s front lawn. The residents just about every day during the summer, leave their neighborhoods and come to the lake and bring their hibachis and whatever barbeques, and use it as if it’s their own front lawn right on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Obviously, this is going to be a multi-year development, and probably going to take over 30 years to execute and complete.

One of the things I wanted to highlight for you is our thinking about next generation infrastructure. The great thing about this site is the abundance of natural features with being on the shore of Lake Michigan or a great view of Downtown Chicago, what I refer to – which you have to pay about $15 to go on a boat to get a view of Downtown Chicago.

Secondly it is one of the few private pieces of land that are east of our Lakeshore Drive. Predominantly, up and down the lakefront, we have Lakeshore Drive, we have the neighborhoods to the west, and we have the lakefront parks. And obviously, the lakefront parks are all public. This would be one of the few private pieces of land that is east of Lakeshore Drive.

But the opportunity we have, as I’d like to say somewhat ironically, is it has no infrastructure on the site. Sure, it has all the existing steel making operations, but none of those are obviously usable in today’s urban environment. At 17 1/2 miles of piping that’s 4 inches in larger, none of it in the grid that you want, it’s got all the existing foundations and remnants from the steel making operations and buildings that are sitting there. Those still exist below the soil in addition to some of the environmental challenges that a site like this might present.

The infrastructure that we’ve put in place, or we will put in place, we don’t want to repeat what the pattern has been throughout the 20th century and the 19th century. We want to rethink the infrastructure on this site. Cities are already, as the Mayor will tell you, burdened by the infrastructure demands and whatnot. So why repeat those patterns and just make more burdens for the city? One of the ideas is: how do we get off the grid? Everybody has a cell phone, even some rang during these sessions, and they’re all powered obviously by electricity. So how to generate electricity in a new and efficient way?

One of the concepts we’re exploring is waste energy. We’re going to consistently generate waste. How do we turn that into energy and electricity to be reused on the sites such as this? Problem in the city of Chicago, we have constant problems with flooding and whatnot, and why is that? We have a great deep tunnel system that was put in under the ñ with the help of [inaudible 08:13], but it’s completely overloaded right now. That system puts all of our storm water into pipes. Chicago has a combined sewer system, so in other words, the sanitary and the storm are combined. Those end up in waste treatment plants and end up in the Gulf of Mexico eventually.

440 million gallons of storm water end up in the Gulf of Mexico every year diverted from this water basin. Rather than do that, we’re going to recharge Lake Michigan and keep the storm water right here. 90% of the storm water’s going to stay on this site; it’s going to be returned to Lake Michigan, and naturally filtered just as it is today.

And then of course, the ICT system, what will be state-of-the-art as well too. What we believe that it is an integral part of making this neighborhood some place where people haven’t visited in the last hundred years because it’s still making operation and turn it into some place where people say to themselves, ëI have to live there’. The infrastructures of the ICT system are a part of that.

Relina Bulchandani

Thank you, Ed. We’re going to move onto Michael.

Michael Ohm

First of all, I want to thank Relina and Cisco and everyone that has put together this conference together, and we’re just very privileged to be a part of it. In that day or so we’ve been here, the amount of engagement, the innovation, and maybe more than anything else, just the personal energy has just impressed me beyond all get-out, and I’m just thrilled to be a part of it.

My background, real quick, environmental lawyer, have done a lot of on the energy and the natural resources space, do a lot in the brown field world. We’ve had the privilege of working with Ed and the McCaffery folks and the U.S. steel folks on the project you just saw.

In a position where I worked on some fairly significant projects of this sort, what I’m going to work you through in just a next couple of minutes though, is actually much smaller projects. And the reason for that is to try to begin and answer some of the questions that Relina’s posing to us, which are really, what are the types of innovative strategies, ideas, approaches to urban redesign, revitalization that we, from a law firm perspective, are saying.

We’re fortunate because we represent folks from the environmental side, from the public incentive side, from the development side, we represent municipalities. We’ve been really on almost all sides of this development table, if you will. And so to be able to get an appreciation for effectively, what is it that drives these projects. And maybe more importantly, how can we see more sustainability principles effectively infused, particularly at this trying economic times.

The project I’m going to talk about for a couple of minutes is on the near southwest side of Chicago. The client there, and this is real important for everybody to appreciate, is a non-for profit. It’s a Hispanic organization in Chicago. There’s also, it has affiliated organizations around the country. It’s called the United Neighborhood Organization, or UNO of Chicago.

And UNO right now operates about nine chartered schools in the city of Chicago. But their mission is not just education; their mission, which is really driven from the Hispanic culture, is to combine family values, educational values, and economic development values, all into what they do. And they do this by bringing chartered schools into communities that are effectively underserved because of overcrowding and other inadequacies of the existing public school system. And they essentially use the schools to drive athletic opportunities and economic opportunities.

This project was on a ten acre brown field about eight miles southwest of Chicago. Here, you can see the footprint in the red dots. Ten acres in size, heavy environmental contamination – a piece of property that was in a short sale condition, so has been held by the bank nervously because of the environmental conditions for more than a few years because of the economy. Everybody that tried to touch it, by the time they understood the environmental issues, they ran away from that. Then, low and behold, a non-for profit that has funding through state educational grant programs effectively looks at it, starts to look at the property less than a year ago. By October of last year, is in contract. By the end of November of last year, has bought the property effectively going through the due diligence process that puts it into perspective, from an environmental liability perspective, to be what’s called a bona fide perspective purchaser. Essentially, they’re not going to be held responsible for the legacy environmental problems.

While they’re getting ready to buy the property, they’re already master planning, not only this property, but about a ten block area around it that is part of a significant Hispanic community. Try and understand how this development will relate to the larger communities. So, true master planning. What you see in this diagram right now is a rendering of the now built and occupied school on about one-third of the site. We’ll walk through couple more slides just to give you a little bit more perspective.

But one of the things that the state grant required was that the site be lead certified silver. It looks like we’ll pretty easily be able to qualify for at least gold.

This is another view of the site, looking at it from a little different direction, but also gives you a sense of where an initial soccer field’s going that’s also acting as an engineer barrier. We took most of the environmental contamination out of the site, traditional dig and haul, but we’re able to leave a decent amount of material there at very residual levels and use, initially, the soccer field construction, and later the high school construction effectively act as an engineer barrier to what residuals will be left in place.

You can see that the fun facts here, in terms of the cost of the project of which the environmental element, was several million dollars, so it was not a small environmental piece. In teeing this up, a couple of other things for everyone to appreciate, it was wonderful consolidation of interest from the public side, from the private side, and from the non-for profit side. We effectively had everyone from environmental insurers come into the table for environmental insurance that would help make the rest of the marketplace from the bank cellar, to the public grant providers comfortable with the project, to the involvement of series of different union-driven vendors that provide their services at a reasonable fee but with some discount because of the nature of the development. We were able to generate up to 375 construction jobs and a significant number of permanent jobs from the project.

In the next phase, there’ll be a high school and a soccer stadium. And this is the rendering, looking from south to north from the soccer stadium area to the city of Chicago. So you can see the view that will be involved there.

And just to get a sense of schedule, purchased in November of last year, the environmental insurance was acquired at about the same time. We were able to obtain a $1 million revolving loan fund award from the U.S. EPA and the Illinois EPA that helped to subsidize some of the environmental cleanup. The actual construction of this site began in late spring. The completion of the building and the surrounding facilities for the first third was completed in late August. The environmental closure document, necessary to occupy the building, was received on September 2. The building opened for 575 new students on September 6. And this celebration that you see reflected here took place a week ago today.

This is an example of many parties, many stakeholders at many levels, driving a program that was very necessary for this community and drives a lot of public benefit. In terms of the strategies here, it was communication, communication, communication. There were more educational discussions from informal meetings to public meetings to meetings with government officials to meetings with the city of Chicago that occurred in this project than almost any other projects that I’ve been involved in. It’s a relatively small project, but the primary strategy here was to be able to show everyone the positive end point, and maybe more importantly, the predictable path to how we got there, whether it was environmental liability, whether it was public financing, whether it was the land use obstacles that were existed and how they were effectively overcome. At each stage, there were pre-meetings, there were meetings, and then more meetings. It allowed for every stakeholder to become comfortable and essentially, to be able to sign off, if not on time, even early.

One quick example I’ll give. We’ve probably done, as a firm, about twelve different EPA grants and/or revolving loan fund programs over the last four years, ranging from about a half a million dollars to almost two million dollars. Though the agencies are wonderful and they work quickly with you in every case, it’s usually from anywhere from six months to a year, this from start date, from the request letter until when we got the award was seven weeks. It was, again, in large measure, due to the participation and the communication that was involved.

Thank you very much.

Relina Bulchandani

Thank you, Michael.

We’re now going to move across the globe through Telepresence to my colleague, Bas Boorsma in Amsterdam, who’s going to spend some time talking about Smart Works strategies and the work Bas has been leading in Amsterdam.

Bas Boorsma

Thank you, Relina. A few can see me. Michael, can you throw me the remote control for the slides please? Thanks for that. That was very helpful. Relina, thanks for the introduction.

My name is Bas Boorsma. I’m working for the internet business solutions group at Cisco, and I’m being particularly responsible for the creation and implementation of Smart Works strategies for communities.

Now, what is a Smart Works strategy for a community? It’s a very big piece of semantics. Smart Works strategy is a strategy whereby we create networks of smart works centers and smart works services in order to create a mobile innovative work environment for the larger city environment; essentially, the city as my office.

What we have done is, in places like Amsterdam, where we got started, later on deploying in places as diverse as France, Korea, Belgium and other places, is create, in fact, a network or help create a network of hundreds or more smart work centers, disperse throughout the city and around the town and suburban areas throughout the nation, in fact, in the Netherlands where people can go to and work from.

The principle aim here was, in fact, to alleviate some of the mobility issues in and around Amsterdam; so, to create a more mobile environment whereby we would define access to the city by different means and in traditional commute alone, but also to look into greener ways of working. In fact, that was our starting point, when we got started in Amsterdam back in 2008. Are there greener ways of working in terms of how space is being used, reducing commutes, and so on and so forth?

But what we also ended up with, and that’s been quite important, is Smart Work integrates being used or – let me phrase that a little be differently, smart works centers having an economic impact. In a sense that you find a lot of economic activity going on in these smart work centers that you otherwise might not expect. These are very un-silo environments where you have a lot of young people, a lot of startups and new entrepreneurs. They meet, they greet, they come together in highly socially conducive environments, sometimes enhanced with programs that brings them together like first Friday of the month, entrepreneurial breakfast and things like that. All of that happening within the city, creating a truly, a novelty environment and allowing for enhanced economic activity, if you will.

Now, in terms of challenges, there were many. You can imagine that to be the case. When you create something like this, it is seen as fairly exotic by many. In fact, it is distrusted by some. It makes a lot of sense; obviously, there are a lot of cultural issues that you have to deal with. Now, Meeting of the Minds is focused on challenging all paradigms and getting to new ones. I think that’s exactly what we’ve been doing with our Smart Works strategies. We have been challenging the old paradigm, which states that work can only be done productively if you all come together in one central concrete building that you call the central office.

Challenging the old paradigm, in a sense that you can only monitor your staff and you can only expect them to be productive if they actually physically assemble on one place, which is really the industrial revolution type of paradigm.

But there is more. I mean, it is even assumed that the next Steve Jobs typically is sitting in a garage. Probably he is somewhere in the network, and if he’s physically somewhere, he’s more likely to be in a smart work center than in a garage for instance. And I think that it’s a very important point to start looking at it that way. And that’s what we’ve been trying to do, trying to address this with this city in Amsterdam, but we’ve been working, as well, with other communities, other countries, employers and other relevant entities in making this happen.

Relina, if I may have just one more minute, that’s not being the only challenge. Culture has definitely been a very important challenge, but I would say that technology’s being another. In preparing this, in creating a Smart Work environment for your city, you typically want to think, where you’re going to end up in ten years from now. What type of infrastructure and connectivity am I, as a city Mayor, going to require in order to allow for high end video connectivity? What is my building management going to look like if I have a dispersed distributed work environment, like this one?

To think about that is important, to build tomorrow’s communities, and yesterday’s infrastructure is not a good idea. That was another challenge, and I would say, the last challenge is that this is not something that can be done by anyone alone. This is not something that can be done by government alone. Government clearly needs to be involved setting the stage. But it can also not be done by private sector alone. You need governance, and we’ve built a lot of experience, gained a lot of experience getting exactly there.


Relina Bulchandani

Thank you, Bas.

We now want to move onto Mayor Susan Osborne.

Susan Osborne

Thank you, I think I’ll speak from the podium.

So, I am going to talk to you today a little bit about a project that we’ve been working on in Boulder for more than a decade. I appreciate the speed in which the private sector can work, and I suspect that maybe one of the comments that we’ll have to talk about. But I wanted to tell you a little bit about this project to begin with.

This is a littleÖ yellow is the city of Boulder, and the red asterisks indicate what we have planned to be the city center, our Downtown, our university and then our regional shopping area. Just to the north of the regional shopping area, in this little orange area, is what’s come to be called as Boulder Junction, and that’s what I want to talk to you about today.

Just by way of background, Boulder ñ let me just back up a little bit, and say welcome to you all. We are so happy you are here, just welcome, welcome. If there’s anything that I, or any of the other Boulder people in the room, can do to make you feel at home or to give you directions, please just stop us and ask us. But we are so happy that this amazing event is here. So, great thanks to you all. So, let me just pick up then.

Boulder’s about 150 years old. We started out history as a mining supply town for the mining that was going on in the mountains and really the last half of the 19th century. So, that’s our history.

There was a rail line at that time that came through that’s a main trunk line, and a little branch off of that actually came down Canyon Boulevard, which is the big street just to the south of the hotel. That area was called Boulder Junction, and that’s the name now that this 160 acre project has taken on.

The city as you can see in the photo, more or less, our boundaries are now really set by open space purchases that have been made over the past 42 or 43 years. In the late 1960s, the citizens here voted to tax themselves to buy open space. We now have little less than 50,000 acres of open space, partly the mountain back drop filled with trails. We invite you to test them out, but also a lot of agricultural land to the east.

We are a city that is approaching what city planners tend to call, build out. We have very little land left to build brand new projects, so we’re directed to look at brown field sites and in-fill sites. Boulder Junction is, in fact, one of these. It was once on the outskirts of town, but today, as you can see, and let me move this on, it’s very well located. It’s located well in terms of shopping, in terms of park land, in terms of mass transit, and I’ll speak a little bit about that. But in its recent past, it’s been an industrial area, the home of car dealerships, an old steel yard, and then a lot of relatively inexpensive light industrial space for rent.

We began planning for this project a little bit before, but then got a lot of steam from our fast tracks, which is another vote of the Denver Metro region to fund 21st century transit system for our region, and for some places, it’s meant light rail with a hub at union station in Denver. But for Boulder, it’s meant first, a bus rapid transit system that will begin construction next year on U.S. 36, the highway that most of you came in on, I suspect. Then, in the longer term, our future is looking at a commuter rail that will use the rail line that’s shown in the picture.

Then just to jump to challenges and some of the ways we’ve met the challenges. The site, as I mentioned, is 160 acres. It has a whole lot of different private owners and many, many stakeholders. The real project for us has really been how to build support, political support, and also a common vision for this area.

What we did in terms of strategy was take some time to work with the property owners there in the larger community to develop a plan that had really based around the transit opportunities that we were looking at, both our bus rapid transit system, which will have a terminus here, as well as, the ultimate reality of trains. In the center of this illustration is Goose Creek, part of a magnificent bike system that we have. We have 53 miles of bike trails and 77 under passes, and it allows for people to bike around town without ever having to cross the street. One of the main routes that people use is Goose Creek. So that is another way that this site can be accessed.

The planning process has taken awhile. It involved getting a lot of people, ultimately excited about what Boulder Junction could be. We talked to people a lot about zoning and what the future could hold for a site that really does take, currently, a lot of imagination to see. But I think we, over time, have brought people along into understanding that, in terms of value added, nothing can quite do it as much as favorable zoning and that’s what we have built for this site.

I will say that in the 1990s, we made a changed to zoning to allow one large property to redevelop in the area, and so today, it stands as an example of the potential for change. It’s a great project that includes mix-used housing, live-work projects, built on the framework and retail, built on the framework of an old steel yard.

The other thing that we did was a moving our train depot to the site. This is a picture of the way the site looks today, actually, from the railroad track. What this did from a political perspective was, in the discussion of, is this project going to happen, in fact, it is going to happen. The city’s invested on moving the depot here, and so end of discussion. The first project that we’re likely to see there is a combination ofÖ our regional transportation district was successful in getting some funding to build a hotel and housing along the railroad track. Our bus terminus will actually occur under this project.

This is a site in plan-view. At this point, the buses will enter; they’ll circulate underneath. This is the depot, and the depot will be fixed as a part of this project. I think that we look at this project as the way to kick start the project. That was our other challenge. In this economic environment, how do we kick start a project? And I think having this new project be a part of it.

The city used some housing funds to buy a key parcel so we will ñ we have a stake in the area, and the area’s redevelopment. We have built our capital improvements program in the city around making the peripheral improvements that will make Boulder Junction happen. We have, I think, in particular, created some new kinds of ordinances that deal with transportation demand management and also created a parking district here. Getting the new zoning requires the owners to buy into the general improvement districts, become a part of that. That has ultimately been required a vote of the property owners there, and the votes were both unanimous. This is a project if you come back to Boulder in two or three years, hopefully you’ll see it going and might even want to choose to stay in our hotel out there, and take a bus to the St. Julian for breakfast or lunch.

Thank you all. We’ll be happy to answer questions.

Relina Bulchandani

Excellent. Thank you. Thank you, Mayor Osborne.

We’re now going to switch gears a little bit due to time, and I thinkÖ do we have any pressing questions now or can we wait till the end where we just go into about seven to ten minutes of Q&A.

Otherwise, I’d like toÖ I’ve heard a lot of different things from the panelists, and I like the fact you all did talk a little bit about challenges and solutions. But what I wanted to start through right now, we are in this new world, we heard this morning about resource constraints. So post-2008, if I’m a developer today, I know from a financial perspective, the constraints. We’re looking from a government policy perspective; we’re looking for changes also.

A couple of the speakers talked about public, private partnerships. What I’d like to kind of switch gears a little bit and talk about is, what is the most significant role from your perspective that public sector or private sector can take to enable new successful urban revitalization strategies?

What I encourage you to do, if you’re a private sector, wear a public sector hat, but feel free to share private sector ideas as well, and if you’re from the public sector, wear a private sector hat. Let’s just kind of look at it from a different perspective when a new world, its resource constrained, everything from a people perspective, from a finance perspective, from policy, different areas have pressure. What do we need to really get these new communities going?

Should we start with you Ed?

Edmund Woodbury

A couple things come to mind. First of all, I’ll speak relative to our Chicago Lakeside property, what has been important to us, and what we foresee as being important moving forward.

One is city investment. The Mayor talked about moving rail station, buying parcels of land. In our case in Chicago Lakeside, a critical factor is our investment in a critical piece of infrastructure, which is the final leg of Lakeshore Drive. They’ve committed and are working on the last contract for a $40 million access fund to build that road, which obviously provides the main transportation and the main road, north and south, through the site.

Secondly, and probably a little bit more dramatically, the things to move forward into the next generation of infrastructure is we need the public sector to be open to innovative ideas. Public sectors are full of regulations and full of, in certain cases, perhaps not in Boulder, perhaps not in Chicago, to remove the first person from it, why you can’t do something.

In order for us to execute some of the goals and aspirations that we talked about in the next generation infrastructure pieces, we will need innovative and really out of the box thinking from the city regulators in the city of Chicago. Our first battle with them, battle put in quotes obviously, was over this notion of overturning the storm water to Lake Michigan. It seems obvious; I like to refer to Lake Michigan as probably the largest freshwater detention basin in the world. And why wouldn’t you put the storm water there? That’s where it’s going today, but the city and the regulators were so fixed on the notion that it has to go into a pipe, and that it has to be out-filled into other areas, into particularly the deep tunnel, that it took two or three years, probably the force of then mayor, Daly, to bring that into effect. So those are a couple points I would make.

Relina Bulchandani

Thanks, Ed.


Michael Ohm

The only thing I’d add to that is the idea that the city of Chicago is a very innovative city when it comes to agreeing to sustainable efforts, and it took that long. I think, in part it took that long, because the city has a built-in infrastructure of its own, its regulatory infrastructure, that there’s everything candidly from job preservation, people needing to be able to do what they’ve always done for a long time, to people not knowing another way to do it.

And so, I think in particularly in the P3 context, in the public private partnership context, one of the things that, a lot of people in this room and probably people do this on a regular basis almost assume, is that everybody already gets it. Everybody already knows what is the great mile strap that you’re working at.

But a lot of what happened at the UNO site, certainly a lot of what’s happened in Chicago Lakeside, is that educational process. And sometimes, it works for the developer, for the developer’s lawyer, for someone else to sort of deliver that message. But again, another strategy to this, if you will, is often times you need someone that’s one off, that is arguably more objective, less private sector, less public bureaucratic side of the world, somebody that’s an in-betweener, if you will. And sometimes it’s another element of government. Sometimes it’s an NGO of sorts; maybe it’s the local community development group. Sometimes it could be a labor organization. There’s lots of other, either known stakeholders or potential stakeholders, that can be brought to bear. Sometimes they want to be there; sometimes you have to encourage them to come into the room that can help tell this bigger message.

I think in this P3 world, part of the challenge is, we do have big gaps. And one of the big gaps is, as you all know, is our gaps in funding. Private sector might have all the money in the world sitting on the sideline right now, but because of some of the risk factors we heard, Mark [inaudible 38:21] of Deutsche Bank had talked about others, a lot of that money is staying in a pretty safe conservative place right now. Similarly, the public sector, they can only do so many tips, they can only do so many various grants and underwritings and subsidies, and even some of those are very unpredictable. So from that perspective, we need a way to educate. And I think forums like this do that.

The other comment I’d make in the P3 world, it’s now no longer new. Depending on which project you look back on, some projects are 20, 25 years, some P3 projects were actually well before there was even the idea of P3. The idea that we can learn from prior projects, whether it’s all of you listening to our little success stories here, or your own success stories and sending that message out, that’s critical. It’s not only appeared the idea of educating from one community to another. To me, on the private side, and this is a comment to the public side, it’s the idea of just how important stability, predictability, how important those things are to development.

Particularly, where we’re introducing arguably new ideas, innovation, sustainability, whether you’re going to be able to allow storm water to not go in the pipe and work its way through the system, and then go to the lake, and rather go through the material on the side and go right to the lake. Those ideas need to be brought to bear in a way that effectively relate to track record, precedent, it’s been done before. So when I walk in the room to a city council, when I walk into a land development group, this is something that’s known; it’s predictable. That idea, I think in this marketplace right now, whether you look at it from the economic side, the political side, any other sector, if you will, there’s so much uncertainty, so to the extent that whether it’s P3 or otherwise, we can show track record that equates to credibility, which gets us closer to getting the job done.

Relina Bulchandani

And Michael, to your point, your previous point, I think, I wanted to mention one project that we were involved with, which is the Toronto Waterfront project to 2000 acres and redoing the dock yards.

They created actually a mechanism, they actually created a Toronto Waterfront authority board, which had the Mayor – it had three levels of government – it had developers, it had citizens. See that actually created this new [inaudible 40:37] in the development space to actually think through standards, think through next generation technologies, think through things like where does waste and etc end up, so just been a really interesting way to look at development. And the same thing in Songdu; they actually have, it’s a free zone. One of my questions was going to be, you’re thinking around policy changes around some of these free zones to revitalize. And they also have, I think it’s the Inchon free economic zone authority board. I think that’s something that we need to start thinking through, it’s difficult to get there, but at least help start the conversation.

Bas I’m going to switch over to you now.

Bas Boorsma

Thank you.

Well, yes, to Ed’s point. I think that’s very important. We are expecting a somewhat different role up to a point from different government. In urban innovations, you do need government and private sector to get together and collaborate. That is certain. Everybody agrees to that.

But the types of roles that everybody’s assuming within that new game are changing. So to Ed’s point, it’s less about government saying what you cannot do, but it is about government actually stating what it wants, what type of community it wants next year, ten years from now and bringing together various stakeholders, including the various stakeholders from private sector in order to make it happen. I think that’s very important.

On the other hand, both of the private sectors need to adapt. The idea that you can just make a straight sale as in the old days, so to speak, that may not happen within that arena of public, private collaboration in order to drive urban innovations. Let me give one brief example.

If you’ve come to think about smart energy grids, that’s a very, very complex subject matter, right? In order to make smart grids happen and to plan for it, you need government, you need the power company, you need the regulators, you need the network company, you need possibly a Telco, and so on and so forth.

Now, for the private sector entities, within that construction to expect that they can come in and make a straight sale is probably a very old-fashioned way of looking at it. They are going to have to get used to managing that ecosystem, understanding their roles, understanding that they’re part of a bigger pie. And that requires a lot of adjustment on the side of private sector. So it cuts both ways. It’s like a marriage. You’re going to require some adjusting on both sides.

Relina Bulchandani

Thank you, Bas.

Susan Osborne

From my perspective wearing a private sector hat, one of the things that I’ve seen happen at Boulder Junction is, first of all, as I mentioned, we spend a long time getting very specific about the plan that we wanted, the kinds of buildings we wanted, the uses, and then working through the zoning and so forth.

What’s happened is initially we were dealing with one set of property owners – the people who own the original businesses there, who were comfortable, used to having light industrial zoning for example, and thinking of that as the future. What’s happened with the new plan, and it is quite specific about what we want, new ordinances, the turnover of property owners is significant and so now, we have for the most part, and the projects that are going through our city now and concept review, are really new owners. So, in one of the larger properties, I think it’s a cooperative partner’s been brought on to help with it. But we’re getting new owners and the benefit to us is a person is buying a property; the original property owner is certainly making a profit, but we’re bringing on people who know the plan, who are supportive of it, and have great ideas that are going to bring it certainly to implementation.

So at least the way I’ve seen this fairly complex project work, is really a turnover in the private sector. It’s at this point really working to our advantage. I think we have a couple of large properties that will be private, totally privately funded projects, but playing off of infrastructure. We’re doing some things like burying power lines, doing the street infrastructure, carrying a lot about the public realm and what that needs to look like and be like, and then the private sector is reacting to that and their plans.

So it feels like after a long period of planning time, it’s really getting somewhere. But a piece of that is turnover.

Relina Bulchandani


I want to open it up. We have about seven, eight minutes left to the audience for questions, comments, responses.


I have one real small question for the Mayor. Where did you get the train station and how much did it cost?

Susan Osborne

The train station was the original main train station in Boulder and it used to be located at Canyon and 14th Street, so very near to here. And then it had gotten moved about 25 years ago to a different site out east, very close to the transit village or Boulder Junction.

That shopping center was about to be expanded. The owner was scratching their heads saying ëwhat do we do with this old depot’, and so the city said ëlook, we got the property owner to pay for the lion share of actually moving it because they wanted the land’, and so one grand day, two years ago, the depot was lifted up and moved down the road across the street and onto the site.

But again, for me the big deal with that was it ended the conversation about, is this really a project that’s going to go and it’s going to have the city backing.


This question, perhaps, could be addressed to all of the panelists. I think what we’ve heard here, taking bits from what you all said was kind of illustrative of the problems we face at this conference. This is conference about innovation. We’ve heard from Ed about a fantastic development in Chicago that is potentially going to take 30 years, and no offense, but I think it’s a little bit premature to call it a success until the 30 years has happened.

We’ve heard from Michael that what the industry’s looking and what everyone involved is looking for is stability. We need to see a proof of concept. Where has this been done before? People don’t want to take risks.

And we’ve heard from Bas that it’s very difficult for the private sector, the technology vendors, to come into this environment expecting a quick sale. So, I guess my question is, how’s the innovation going to happen if we have to wait 30 years to know if a project is successful before it can be replicated somewhere else, and if the private technology vendors going in there don’t have an opportunity to sell new ideas because the government, the regulatory bodies, the citizens and most importantly of all, the banks, don’t want to finance change?

Michael Ohm

I start it if you’d like. I think we heard this morning the idea of public side or municipal leadership, and I do think that it isn’t always that the city or the town or the village has to come up with money. I think the idea of the community enabling that environment has a lot to do with it.

And Ed can speak more of the detail here than I can. But for example, in the Chicago Lakeside matter, the city of Chicago was very supportive of this project, but they didn’t give anything away. They allowed for, for example, a very significant award of tax increment finance funds, but the quid pro quo for that was that this site would be a very high level of lead certification. We’d get to the platinum level, if you will. And there were other requirements, so the city basically said, ëthis is what we can do. We can help you in this regard, but in exchange for this, we’re going to require that you bring innovation into the site’, and we’ve certainly already looked at a lot of things by virtually the fact that we thought that was the right thing to do. But the city certainly helped that to occur.

Similarly again, another city of Chicago story. The city has taken its land use ordinance and it’s created, if you will, a green ordinance element to that. And a green ordinance element does different things for parties that bring into the mix. For example, if you are willing to do a green roof, you get a discount on permit fees. If you’re willing to do other types of sustainable element to your development, not only do you get a break on your permit fees, but you can go through a streamline permit approval process. Now, that’s shaking out; that works sometimes very well and sometimes it doesn’t work that well. But from the perspective of, how do we get some of these things to happen, that’s a way the public sector can effectively modify their system to allow for more stability and more incentive that will encourage more innovation.

Edmund Woodbury

I think the question is also, if I can just paraphrase the question just a little bit differently, how do we leverage all these ideas and actually bring them to fruition to a certain degree?

Whether it’s the private sector, in the case of Chicago Lakeside, or the public sector in the case of the Boulder redevelopment, somebody has to lead. Somebody has to create that framework; somebody has to set the ideas out there.

In the case of the Chicago Lakeside Project, we chose to do that. We’re not undertaking any of this at the behalf of the city of Chicago, apart from little permit things that we get from. We’re doing it because we have the, as I stated when I was making the little presentation, we have the opportunity because there is no infrastructure there. So how would you do the infrastructure? I could do it the same way very easily that has been done for the last twenty, fiftey years, but what we’ve chosen to do is to sort of look at it in a different way because we want to envision how it’s going to happen in the next twenty years. How can we take a site that is placed where really nobody can live or would want to live, and turn it around and make it into something that people say to themselves ëWe have to live there. We have to live there because it’s the most sustainable neighborhood in the city of Chicago’.

As Mike pointed out, Chicago has allÖ since the twenty year ñ how do I say, rural, but that’s not the right word. Reign, I want to say that one too but that’s not the right word either.

Tenure. There you go, that’s a better word. Of Mayor Daly, we really focused ourselves into the notion of being a more sustainable city; it started in little ways. I think what weëre trying to do in Chicago Lakeside is to step it up and do it from the ground up.

Relina Bulchandani

Any other responses? Or we can take another question.

Bas Boorsma

Yes, please, if I can.

To the point that Michael was making, I think it’s very important that public, private collaboration is required, but that does not mean that the government needs to invest. So government needs to create the platform, needs to bring together various stakeholders. And what needs to happen next for innovations to work and to have them scaled, is to try-test and mature new business architectures and business models. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing around at Smart Work and Smart Work networks, but also with smart energy grids, the two examples that I mentioned.

These things are a challenge at the beginning. You start it out with the assumption that somewhere down the road, this might end up being profitable, but once you actually arrive at those new business architectures, and once they prove them to be viable, that’s the point where you’re going to actually see a vast scaling of the overall exercise.

What you need is government, setting division, bringing together the stakeholders, but not necessarily government investing. What you need is new business architectures.

Relina Bulchandani

Thank you, Bas.


I think reign might have been the correct word.

I’m Joe Brouder. I just wanted to say something. I’m glad that scale got brought up again. Because if you’re talking about innovation, about really important new ways of technology and society coming together and scale is so important, then we need to look at where scale is going to take place for other reasons and can be taken advantage of. I think a look at that in the United States might change some of the assumptions we’re talking about here.

The biggest wealth generating part of the United States from now on is going to be the old industrial rust belt. The discovery of all these old shell gases is going to make Pennsylvania and Ohio, parts of New York, creating more money, more jobs, and more new development than any other place in the country. Pennsylvania, on the opening day of deer season, has more men with guns in the woods that happened at any day in Europe, in WWII, or WWI.

The culture there includes a lot of people who are not going to want to move into your center cities. People are going to continue to want to live in the small towns, beyond the suburbs, in the exurbs, and enjoy the lifestyles they have now while they’re still having a good job.

So whether we’re talking about communications or transportation, or the way water supplies are developed or any of this, taking a look at what is going to happen for other reasons and how innovation applies to that, is something I think we need to think about because in the U.S. at least, the places where the scale will let us play with these ideas are likely to develop very differently than the models we’ve been hearing about.

Susan Osborne

Not so much to the speaker as the one before, thinking about a concern that because the project takes awhile, it’s not going to be helpful in terms of fostering innovation. I think it’s maybe a little incorrect.

I know in Boulder, with Boulder Junction, we’re kind of worried that we’ve created enough incentives for development that it’s going to happen too fast. We’d actually prefer for it to happen in a more measured way, where people learn from other projects. And we have a few buildings that have been converted, an old lumber yard’s been converted into very cool office spaces by using the same building, but ultimately, that will be developed in a more intense way.

But it seems to me that there are innovations in the way the private sector is, perhaps, planning for the Lakeside Project. Or in our case, some of the transportation demand management issues that we’ve tackled head on, that there are things that are transferrable and that it’s not a failure if it takes 30 years. It’s a work in progress. And I think that’s a good thing.

Relina Bulchandani

Any other comments on the scale? Question, comment?

Michael Ohm

Just a quick one.

I think scale is sometimes often looked at just purely from the, either the dollar or the project reference, and I think it can be many other nuisance ways. I’ll take you back to the Hispanic UNO case, if you will.

Their first aid chartered schools were one offs that really didn’t work from a model. This one that I spent a couple minutes talking to you about is the template for the way they’re going to do another dozen schools. The different here is they sort of elooked at what was the driver. Yes, it was the need for education; yes, it was the need for a number of other things, but it was the family values of the Hispanic community that were multi-generational, that were related education, to athletics to economic development. And it’s around that model, that’s much more they valued based model than anything else that they’re now going to scale. And they’re going to scale first on this site, and then in a series of sites.

So scale, it can mean a lot of things. I think we want to keep our blinders off. It’s not just about going from one to ten acts. It’s about what is the quality of how we grow an opportunity.

Relina Bulchandani

Thank you, Michael.

I think we’re going to take one more question. We might be over. We need to wrap up?
Okay, we apologize, but we need to wrap up.

Thank you for sitting through our panel, and I want to al-thank the esteemed panelists for all the different perspectives on the urban revitalization strategies.

Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Meeting of the Minds is made possible by the generous support of these organizations: