Webinar: Using Parks to Increase Connectivity and Urban Growth

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January 21
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Live Online
Online DC United States
ULI Center for Sustainability


Netforum Event ID. You can find it here: http://netforum.uli.org/eweb//DynamicPage.aspx?site=ULIMC&webcode=ULIEventsSearch&ord=evt_start_date
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**Webinar Time is in Eastern Standard Time**

This is a complimentary webinar for members, with a $50 fee for non members. Want free access to this and other ULI webinars year-round? Become a member today! 

Hemisfair Park, San Antonio, Texas

Parks are critical pieces of infrastructure in cities, providing benefits for health, social equity, community cohesion, sustainability, resilience, and economic development. Several recent ULI Advisory Services Panels have focused on parks and open space, as part of ULI’s partnership in the 10 Minute Walk Campaign, allowing cities across the country to receive recommendations to help meet specific goals related to their parks and park systems.

Following two recent panels, in Fort Lauderdale and San Antonio, Jeanne Myerson and Omar Gonzalez will discuss the steps these cities are taking to capitalize on their growing markets through the use of parks and open public space. They will detail intended outcomes of a comprehensive public space strategy, including workforce development, environmental equity, social cohesion, health equity, and city resilience.

This webinar is part of series of webinars coordinated by the ULI Responsible Property Investment Product Council.


Jim Durrett (moderator), The Buckhead Community Improvement District

Jim Durrett is executive director of The Buckhead Community Improvement District (CID) – a local governmental entity with taxation power.  The mission of the Buckhead CID is to create and maintain a safe, accessible and livable urban environment in the heart of the Buckhead commercial area in Atlanta, GA.  They meet the challenges of growth by investing tax dollars collected from commercial property owners within the district, as well as other funds they leverage from outside the district, to make meaningful improvements in the transportation network and public realm that connect people and places. He has in-depth expertise in transportation, land use and creating livable communities. His most ambitious project to date is pursuing a 9-acre, half-mile park, HUB404, on top of a highway and transit station in the heart of Buckhead.

Prior to heading up the Buckhead CID, Durrett was founding executive director of the Livable Communities Coalition, a not-for-profit organization formed in 2005 to promote smart growth development in the Atlanta region.  Prior to that, Durrett served for five years with the Urban Land Institute (ULI), an organization dedicated to land use and real estate development issues, as the first executive director of ULI’s Atlanta District Council, and the second district council executive director in the U.S. Durrett attended the Westminster Schools in Atlanta and earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in Geology from the University of Georgia.  He completed post-graduate work in hydrogeology at the University of Texas.  He is an Atlanta native and lives in DeKalb County with his wife, Pat.  They have two grown sons, James and Ryan.


Omar Gonzalez, Hemisfair

Mr. Omar Gonzalez is the Director of Real Estate for Hemisfair in San Antonio, Texas. He has 20 years of experience in real estate and economic/community development. His career includes urban experience in several markets including California, Texas and Mexico. He has led development projects and teams of architects, interior designers, engineers, construction managers, asset managers and other professionals.

In his role at Hemisfair, he has successfully negotiated two Public Private Partnership (P3) agreements to bring $250 million of private investment to downtown San Antonio. Hemisfair’s plan is to build a series of first-rate urban parks embraced by a dense neighborhood of residences, offices, cafes and galleries, and walkable streets and pathways. Mr. Gonzalez’s expertise has been instrumental in securing public dollars, generating community support, marketing and evaluating P3s, obtaining entitlements, and delivering key real estate assets including a unique play environment, boutique retail and parking.

Additionally, Mr. Gonzalez is a father of two, an avid tennis player, and an involved community member including co-founder of LOOP (a non-profit organization for San Antonio’s young professionals); and Chair of ULI Mission Advancement Committee. He received his Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Stanford University.


Jeanne Myerson, The Belgrave Group

Jeanne Myerson has over 35 years of diverse experience in the commercial real estate industry. She founded The Belgrave Group in 2015, an independent consulting firm specializing in guiding real estate clients through company, institutional and/or portfolio transitions. Recent advisory work includes guiding clients through multi-generational family company transitions, creating strategic plans for future ownership and investment activity, changing an investment company’s business plan to minimize future risk and devising capitalization strategies.

Myerson was ULI’s first CEO of the Americas (US, Canada and Latin America), a new position, 2016-2017. Myerson initiated the Americas region’s major change process, coordinated the strategic planning process for ULI’s ongoing sustainability work and initiated ULI’s participation in the 10 Minute Walk Campaign. She also provided oversight of management, fiscal goals and long-range strategies for the Americas.

Myerson, from 1997 to 2014, served as president and CEO of The Swig Company, a private, national real estate investment and management firm headquartered in San Francisco, transforming it into a best-in-class office company while growing the company’s portfolio value twentyfold.

Myerson received her BA with Honors from Grinnell College where she majored in Anthropology and Spanish and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa as a junior. She graduated from Harvard University with a Master in City and Regional Planning (MCRP) degree.