ULI Expands Healthy Corridors Project to Four New Sites

The ULI Healthy Corridors Project is exploring strategies for transforming commercial corridors—found in nearly every community across the United States—into places that support the health of the people who live, work, and travel along them.

After a productive two-year exploration process with four corridors—located in Boise, Idaho, Denver, Colorado, Los Angeles, California, and Nashville, Tennessee—the Building Healthy Places Initiative is excited to expand the project to four new communities. The activities along corridors are led by ULI District Councils.

The four new corridors were chosen because of their strong cross-sector partnerships, thoughtful community engagement strategies, and the potential health impact on surrounding communities and vulnerable populations.

The four new corridors are:

uli-co-south-broadway-300x225Englewood, Colorado: South Broadway

    The Setting:

With strong nearby local medical industry assets, favorable proximity to the city, and an influx of millennials and baby boomers, more investors are becoming increasingly attracted to the area’s potential for economic development.

    The Challenge:

Despite the momentum, the historic suburban transportation corridor has struggled to form a Business Improvement District, integrate active transportation options, and provide adequate affordable housing options for the low-moderate income residents who face threats of displacement with climbing rent prices.

    The Health Opportunity:

The corridor project will work to find holistic solutions that encourage developers to help revitalize the area in ways that improve community health without displacing residents or sacrificing the corridor’s historical identity.

uli-nw-ar-picture1-300x225Fayetteville, Arkansas: Highway 71B

    The Setting:

With more than 10,000 jobs and 20% of the City’s residents located within one mile of this segment, the historic College Ave/71B north-south primary arterial corridor needs to keep pace with the rapidly growing metropolitan area. The corridor is situated near many valuable local assets including two medical campuses, a 15-acre shopping center, and thriving cultural and business districts.

    The Challenge:

The corridor faces key challenges such as negative public perception, disconnected sidewalks and pedestrian access, long-term vacancies, limited neighborhood connectivity, and vehicle-dominated infrastructure.

    The Health Opportunity:

Project leaders believe that framing issues through a health lens will help increase stakeholder buy in, and will ultimately benefit the greater region of Northwest Arkansas. This includes the ability to improve connectivity by capitalizing on the 37-mile Razorback Regional Greenway, which runs parallel to the corridor and connects to every major downtown in Northwest Arkansas.

uli-nw-ar-picture1-300x225Saint Paul, Minnesota: Rice & Larpenteur Gateway

    The Setting:

The 2-mile low-income suburban segment of this corridor epitomizes post-war development with vehicular-centric infrastructure, drive-through fast food restaurants, amply-parked strip commercial, and gas stations. Nonetheless, valuable local assets such as a 250-plot community garden, local sports complex, and several public schools all present strong development potential.

    The Challenge:

Home to many Burmese refugees, the area is economically challenged and has not seen significant reinvestment in public infrastructure or private development in several decades. Further, there is a strong need to integrate critical pedestrian safety and street calming features.

    The Health Opportunity:

Through a multi-jurisdictional effort, partner cities (Maplewood, Roseville, and Saint Paul) will help revitalize the area by using a health lens. Organizers will identify key drivers and implementation steps needed to transform the neighborhood into a safe, healthy, well-connected, and economically vibrant area for local residents. This may include transit enhancements, which is currently being studied as part of the visioning process around redevelopment.

uli-phili-picture1-300x225Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Grays Ferry Corridor

    The Setting:

With its proximity to Center City Philadelphia and The University of Pennsylvania, the Grays Ferry low-income urban corridor has been named an “Innovation Corridor” by stakeholders who see significant planning momentum and strong potential to develop the area.

    The Challenge:

Rooted in its industrial past, a large portion of the corridor sits on a brownfield, and suffers from vehicle-oriented infrastructure near prime retail developments and underinvestment among its rowhomes with a low-density population.

    The Health Opportunity:

In addition to integrating thoughtful planning strategies, project leaders are working to develop health-improving strategies to address public health concerns prevalent among vulnerable populations, such as asthma, diabetes, and obesity.

These new corridors will build upon lessons learned from the Healthy Corridors project to date, including what constitutes a “healthy corridor,” strategies to incorporate these elements, and ways to engage local stakeholders using the health lens. The four new corridors will investigate opportunities for and barriers to improving health and create a plan for action by focusing on the following overall project goals, including:

  • Test the approaches developed during the first phase of the project.
  • Help propel a new way of thinking about corridors, through a lens of health.
  • Meaningfully engage a diverse set of corridor stakeholders, including health professionals and community members.
  • Continue to develop and refine strategies for creating a holistically healthy corridor, and identify approaches that work for spurring real change along the corridors.
  • Communicate findings and lessons learned broadly, nurturing and informing a community of practice around effective approaches to creating healthy corridors.