ULI PHL’s 6th Annual Willard G. “Bill” Rouse III Awards for Excellence finalists represent superior development projects in the greater Philadelphia region that embody the ULI mission of pushing the standard of excellence in real estate and land use and creating sustainable, thriving communities.
Paul R. Levy, President, Center City District, joins us for this week’s “Five Minutes with a Finalist”. Center City District has been recognized as a finalist for the Rail Park. Here’s what he had to say:
Who has had the greatest influence on your career and what was the best advice he or she gave you?
Ron Rubin was the founding chair of the Center City District and when he hired me, he offered some excellent advice about the CCD: “You are starting a new business. Don’t try to solve all problems at once; focus first on just a few services: clean and safe. Then slowly expand as you build organizational capacity.” That advice has been extremely helpful as we have methodically expanded from clean and safe, to marketing and streetscape enhancements and now, in our current phase, staying focused on the basics, but building and managing great parks like Sister Cities, Dilworth Park and the first phase of the Rail Park. At all times, the CCD has focused on what Philadelphians can see, experience and enjoy as Center City has flourished as thriving, live-work downtown.
What are you most excited about in the Philadelphia area and region?
I have been in Philadelphia for more than four decades and I have never seen economic and demographic trends more aligned with the city’s assets and potential. Dense, diverse and walkable was out of fashion in the 1970s. Today it is the hallmark of thriving and competitive places. Philadelphia has it all, but we still have much work to do to make it even better.
As a ULI PHL Awards nominee, what makes you most proud of your project?
Philadelphia has an extraordinary range of artifacts from our industrial past. To take a derelict asset and, with strong support from the local community and working with a great design and engineering team, to repurpose it as a new civic space that anchors an expanding and diverse neighborhood on the northern edge of downtown, is an exciting first step. To watch people embrace the park today and then arrive at the current end at Callowhill Street and ask, “Is this all?” – speaks about the extraordinary promise for the future.