This month, ULI Philadelphia sat down with Megan Leinart, Membership Chair for ULI Philadelphia and Director of Corporate Development at TimHaahs.
What has being a ULI member done for you professionally or personally?
ULI has provided me with countless opportunities for growth and development through education, volunteer opportunities, and networking. Since joining the industry right out of college 8 years ago, I have had the opportunity to serve on, and eventually chair, a number of groups including the Urban Marketplace Conference planning committee, the Young Leader Group, a Technical Assistance Panel, and now in my new role as Membership Chair for the Philadelphia District Council. I am also a member of the Urban Development Mixed-Use Council (UDMUC – Purple Flight), which has been a great opportunity to meet new people and get more involved on a national level. Each of these opportunities has not only helped me to grow in my knowledge of real estate, but they have allowed me to meet many wonderful and inspiring real estate professionals whom I have come to admire. Having spent so much time working on and traveling for ULI, I’ve also been fortunate to meet some of my closest friends through it as well, which is great.
Tell us a little about your firm.
TimHaahs is an architecture and engineering firm specializing in the planning and design of parking and mixed-use facilities. Our firm focuses on developing parking solutions for urban communities and mixed-use developments, hospital and university campuses, transit-oriented developments, and more. Locally, we have worked on a number of projects including the Philadelphia Zoo Centennial District Transportation Center, the 30th Street Station parking facility, and Hamilton Square at the University of Pennsylvania, to name just a few.
How can members and sponsors maximize their involvement in ULI Philadelphia?
Hands down, the best way to maximize your involvement in ULI is to get connected in any way you can by meeting new people, joining committees, and volunteering. At the beginning, it’s important to attend events to make new connections, and learn about all the latest trends and developments in real estate on a local level. These opportunities will help to provide you with a better understanding of what ULI is all about, and how it can help you in your everyday career.
After that, ULI Philadelphia offers no shortage of opportunities to volunteer and get connected, regardless of your level of experience, position, age, or job flexibility. You’ll never be turned down for wanting to get involved. Look for opportunities to join an Initiative Council, the Young Leader Group, the Women’s Leadership Initiative, a Technical Assistance Program…or just start small and attend the many great educational programs and networking events that ULI Philadelphia consistently offers.
What are some of the unique challenges around designing and developing urban parking facilities in the region?
Parking is a unique issue that affects everyone in some way but is often overlooked. In Philadelphia, as is true in most urban areas, available land is limited, and what is available is rarely dedicated to uses like parking. You have to get pretty creative when it comes to integrating parking in a safe, convenient, and attractive manner, while preserving space for other higher and better uses. One of the most important considerations when planning and developing parking is to look for shared-use opportunities. For instance, utilizing one parking area for commercial and retail uses during the day, and residential uses at night.
Another issue that has dramatically changed the face of parking in the past 10 years is that of aesthetics. Parking is no longer meant to be plain and boring. Today, owners and designers are working together now more than ever to incorporate elements of mixed-use, vibrant architecture, and sustainable design to make parking more of a “destination”, provide a more inviting first impression, and generate more activity.
What would you be doing if you weren’t involved in real estate?
When I was a kid I was always pretty obsessed, and probably a little too concerned, with knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up. If I weren’t fulfilling my lifelong destiny of working in parking, I would be fulfilling one of my many other lifelong dreams of being a trial lawyer, a psychologist, a sideline reporter for the NFL, or a cast member on Saturday Night Live. Those careers all go together pretty well, right?