Report on revitalizing city’s core is based on recommendations from renowned land use experts
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WASHINGTON (January 31, 2019) – The city of Erie, Pennsylvania, is on the cusp of change and can be reimagined if the city embraces the land use, economic and technological changes that are affecting growth in Erie and other cities in the Rust Belt, according to the Urban Land Institute (ULI). ULI’s recommendations are included in a report released this week following a visit to Erie last year by a group of land use and urban development experts convened by the Institute to advise the Erie Downtown Development Council on how to best revitalize the downtown core.
ULI is a global, multidisciplinary real estate organization whose work is driven by more than 42,000 members dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving communities. The panel was convened through ULI’s Advisory Services Program, which for more than 70 years has gathered groups of ULI members who are experts in the fields of real estate development and land use to advise communities facing complex urban development challenges.
The panel noted that several principles should guide the city’s reinvention of the downtown area, including:
- Understanding and embracing the land use, economic and technological changes that are currently driving the economy in Erie and every other Rust Belt city,
- Cultivating a culture of inclusion, communication and accountability for the public, private and nonprofit sectors,
- Adopting a set of guiding principles for the redevelopment of downtown, and
- Identifying and engaging the civic and private institutions to help make reimagining Erie a reality.
Using these principles as a guide, the panel issued detailed recommendations regarding land use in the downtown core, including:
- Capitalizing on the competitive advantages that are the new face of downtown Erie,
- Creating an inventory of land assets, and streamlining the process to convert the blighted and derelict properties into productive uses,
- Redeveloping the EDDC footprint with a variety of mixed-use projects, while providing the capital to fund catalytic components of these projects,
- Creating a Mayor’s task to Reimagine Erie, and a new organizational structure in the city which includes strengthening the planning department, and
- Enhancing the city’s financial capacity to create public/private partnerships and identify internal and external funding sources.
The panel, sponsored by the Erie Downtown Development Council, was chaired by leading ULI member Richard W. Reynolds, president of the Needham, Massachusetts-based Reynolds Group. “The panel was impressed that the private and public leaders of Erie recognize the reality and seriousness of the issues facing the city given the structural changes in the regional and national economy,” said Reynolds. “Whether the city can adapt for success in the future lies in is its ability and commitment to put in place the changes needed. Hopefully the ULI recommendations will be helpful in getting that process underway.”
While ULI’s recommendations focus on Erie, Pennsylvania, they can be adapted to other Rust Belt areas hit hard by the decline of manufacturing. Over the past several years, ULI advisory panels have assisted communities throughout the Rust Belt with revitalization strategies, including Detroit, Michigan; Bloomington, Indiana; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Chicago, Illinois.
“The strength of ULI’s Advisory Services Program lies in ULI’s unique ability to draw upon the knowledge and expertise of its cross-disciplinary membership, which includes representatives from all aspects of the land use and real estate industry,” said ULI Global Chief Executive Officer W. Edward Walter. “The independent views of the panelists bring a fresh perspective to urban development and growth challenges such as those faced by Erie. The program is all about offering creative, innovative approaches to community building.”
Reynolds, the panel chairman, was joined on the panel by several leading ULI members and land use experts: Daniel Anderton, Senior Associate, Community Design & Planning, Dewberry, Rockville, Maryland; Walter S. Bialas, Vice President, Real Estate Market Research, Jones Lang LaSalle, Dallas, Texas; Lucia Garsys, Chief Administrator for Development and Infrastructure, Hillsborough County, Tampa, Florida; Stanley Lowe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Pittsburgh Neighborhood Preservation Services, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Tom Murphy, Senior Resident Fellow/Klingbeil Family Chair for Urban Development, Urban Land Institute, Washington, D.C.; Nan Rohrer, Independent Consultant, Rohrer Advisors, Baltimore, Maryland; and Stephen Leeper, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Past sponsors of ULI Advisory Services panels include federal, state, and local governments; regional councils of government; chambers of commerce; redevelopment agencies; private developers and property owners; community development organizations; lenders; groups focused on historic preservation; local nonprofits; environmental organizations and economic development authorities.