Now Open for Applications! ULI Philadelphia 2021 Awards for Excellence
Applications for the ULI Philadelphia 2021 Awards for Excellence are now open. The submission deadline is March 12, 2021.
In January 2021, ULI Philadelphia hosted its first UrbanPlan for Communities workshop virtually with a small cohort of civically involved residents, including Citizen’s Planning Institute (CPI) graduates and Registered Community Organization (RCO) board members.
UrbanPlan is a realistic, intensive, and engaging land use planning curriculum, taught around the country, in which participants are exposed to the dynamics of the development process. Participants are split into groups and assigned one of five roles (Financial Analyst, City Liaison, Neighborhood Liaison, Marketing Director, and Site Planner) with the intention of pushing them to think of perspectives outside of their everyday profession. Each team then works together to plan and finance the development of a 5.5 block area in a fictional city in response to the city’s Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP reads that they are “seeking a developer who can create a sustainable, economically vibrant, distinctive district that reflects the historical activities and services of the area; encourage cross-generational interactions; and takes maximum advantage of the surrounding commercial, educational and cultural resources; and acknowledges the site’s prime access to mass transit”. The goal of the program is to introduce community residents to the layered and often tedious process of development.
The program kicked off with ULI instructor Quincy N. Jones, Director of Programs for Neighborhood Preservation Inc. in Memphis TN, welcoming the group of volunteers and laying the groundwork for what the two days would look like before everyone broke out into their groups. While normally participants design their fictitious site using LEGOs that represent different building types, in the virtual environment teams put together their site plan using an online building platform. The four teams were challenged to work through their first draft of vision statements, site plans, and financial models before teams of ULI member volunteer facilitators provided feedback on each group’s progress through Socratic Method questioning. The teams were then given a little time to revise their plans before the group adjourned for the day.
On Day 2, the groups, Pivot Capital, Elmwood Renaissance, The Green Group, and Innovation at Elmwood, finalized their proposals and presented them to a fictitious City Council panel made up of ULI member volunteers. All the teams received great praises from the volunteer council members for their presentations. While they were very impressed by all of the groups, after careful deliberation, the Green Group was chosen as the winner of the RFP for their strong vision statement, dedication to building affordable housing and emphasis on job creation, all while meeting or exceeding the financial requirements. The group was awarded with the coveted prize of UrbanPlan bragging rights.
After a round of applause for the group, Tony Ewing from Shift Capital closed the two days out with a presentation on how to apply lessons learned at UrbanPlan to real life projects. He highlighted The Beury Project on the 3700 block of North Broad Street at the intersection of Broad, Erie, and Germantown and facilitated an engaging conversation on the important relationship between developers and community partners.
Feedback from the workshop was overwhelmingly positive, and many of the participants expressed interest in revisiting or expanding the program. One participant called it an “enlightening experience”, while another stated they felt better equipped to have a seat at the table when talking about development in their neighborhood. After a long two days, all the UrbanPlan graduates will return to their communities more informed on the challenges of urban development from multiple perspectives.
ULI Philadelphia would like to thank all the participants, ULI volunteers, the UrbanPlan Committee and instructor Quincy Jones for their time and dedication to making this event possible.
Contributed by Stewart Scott, Master’s of City Planning candidate at the University of Pennsylvania and ULI Philadelphia intern.