The Honorable Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Former Longtime Mayor of Charleston, S.C., and Professor of American Government and Public Policy at The Citadel, is Named Distinguished Visiting Fellow for ULI
March 31, 2016
Riley Brings 40 Years of Public Leadership to ULI’s Pursuit of Excellence in Urban Development
For more information, contact Trish Riggs at 202-624-7086
WASHINGTON (March 31, 2016) — The Honorable Joseph P. Riley, Jr., who led the highly successful revitalization of Charleston, South Carolina during his 40-year tenure as mayor, has agreed to serve as the Urban Land Institute’s first distinguished visiting fellow.
Riley, who stepped down as mayor on January 8, 2016, has returned to his alma mater, The Citadel. There he is the first occupant of the newly created Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Chair of American Government and Public Policy in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. From this, his primary, post-mayoral position, Riley will be teaching, completing an oral history, writing his memoirs, providing support to organizations involved with urban planning and design, and assisting with the completion of the International African American Museum to be built in Charleston.
As a distinguished visiting fellow for ULI, Riley will offer expertise on several of the Institute’s areas of focus, including affordable and workforce housing, sustainable development, improving overall community livability, and public sector leadership in land use decision-making. His term at ULI, which began March 1, will last one year.
Riley, the longest-serving mayor of a major U.S. city, was the first recipient of the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development, which recognizes a person whose career demonstrates a commitment to the highest standards of community building. Riley was awarded the prize in 2000 to honor his significant contribution to Charleston’s renaissance and his national leadership on urban design and community revitalization issues.
In the decades following Riley’s election as Charleston’s mayor in 1975, the city achieved a substantial decrease in crime, revitalized its historic downtown district, created a highly successful waterfront park, increased its supply of affordable housing, and experienced dramatic growth in its Spoleto Festival U.S.A., a world-class arts festival held each spring. Each of these achievements was made possible through the use of innovative public-private partnerships cultivated by the mayor.
A former president of the U.S Conference of Mayors, Riley is nationally renowned as an expert on urban design and livability issues. He was a founder of the Mayor’s Institute on City Design and has provided visionary advice and counsel on urban design and development issues to hundreds of mayors across the United States.
According to Riley, the positive, far-reaching impact resulting from the revitalization that has occurred in many urban areas over the past 25 years has made redevelopment efforts more acceptable to the public in general, and has fostered greater collaboration between the public and private sectors. “We continue to see evidence of the importance of human scale, livable places, and the proven mutual benefit to the public and private sector has cultivated stronger, lasting partnerships,” he said. “High-quality urban design and well-appointed public spaces add value to the built environment and enhance property values, all of which incentivizes the development community to go the extra distance. The public-private partnerships that ULI encourages and supports have become even more accepted and are certainly needed.”
The neighborhood gentrification that has resulted from successful urban revitalization is an issue of high importance, as more and more cities grapple with how to factor social equity into economic growth and prosperity, Riley noted. “There is no longer any doubt that well-designed city initiatives can be successful, but we must act creatively, energetically and affirmatively to make sure that urban design ensures diversity and inclusivity,” he said. “Gentrification is complicated, and it presents a wonderful opportunity for leadership from ULI.”
Riley’s responsibilities at ULI will include participating in several of the Institute’s major convenings, informing ULI’s research on various aspects of community building, and making contributions to Urban Land, ULI’s flagship publication.
“We are very fortunate to have Mayor Riley offering us his considerable wisdom on building communities that are prosperous, resilient and highly livable,” said ULI Global Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “Through his leadership, Charleston achieved an urban revival that has set the standard for many cities throughout the United States, and which demonstrates how the public and private sectors can work together to advance the common good. Mayor Riley is a tireless and persuasive advocate of enlightened urban development policies and practices.”
NOTE TO EDITORS AND REPORTERS: To request an interview with ULI Distinguished Visiting Fellow Joseph P. Riley, Jr., contact Trish Riggs at 202-624-7086.
About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 37,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.