The Urban Land Institute to Advise Toa Baja, Puerto Rico on Hurricane Preparedness and Resilience
November 29, 2018
Nationally Renowned Panel of Land Use and Urban Planning Experts to Visit Area December 3-7.
For more information, contact: Trisha Riggs at 202-624-7086; [email protected]
WASHINGTON (November 29, 2018) – A group of nationally renowned land use, real estate, and urban planning experts representing the Urban Land Institute (ULI) will be providing strategic recommendations and advice next week to the municipality of Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, on how to best improve preparedness for extreme weather events and ensure all residents benefit from investments in resilience.
ULI is a global, multidisciplinary real estate organization whose work is driven by 42,000-plus members dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving, sustainable communities. The ULI representatives, convened through ULI’s renowned Advisory Services program, will be visiting Toa Baja, Puerto Rico from Sunday, December 3 through Friday, December 7. The panel will provide strategic advice on resilience, economic development, housing, and land use protocols. Items to be addressed include:
- implementing land use processes to mitigate environmental risks,
- securing access to partnerships and investment opportunities, and
- leveraging competitive economic advantages and drivers to ensure all residents benefit from improved resilience.
During the week, the panelists will tour the study area and spend two days meeting and interviewing stakeholders from the public and private sectors, including Toa Baja Municipality leadership and Mayor “Betito” Marquez. After carefully analyzing the site and completing the interviews, the panelists will then frame their recommendations and draft a presentation that will be made to the public at the end of the visit.
The panel’s upcoming visit was initiated when the Urban Land Institute Advisory Services team was invited by ULI SE Florida/Caribbean, Puerto Rico’s Builder’s Association and the municipality of Toa Baja leadership in late August 2018 to discuss the opportunity to provide technical assistance to enhance the community’s economic and climate resilience. The team received context of Hurricane Maria and Irma’s impacts as well as a guided tour of areas the municipality identified in need of reinvestment.
“This is a unique opportunity to showcase a community that represents a microcosm of the entire Island of Puerto Rico,” said ULI Foundation Governor and ULI Puerto Rico Co-Chairman Ricardo Alvarez-Diaz, who is chief executive officer and president of Alvarez-Diaz & Villalon. “Our goal is to take the panel’s recommendations and implement them not only in Toa Baja but throughout the whole island.”
The chairman of the panel is ULI Life Trustee James DeFrancia, president of community development at Lowe Enterprises in Denver, Colorado. “We are excited to bring the expertise of our members to Toa Baja,” DeFrancia said. “The strength of the Advisory Services program lies in ULI’s unique ability to draw on the substantial knowledge of members representing all aspects of the real estate industry. The independent views of the panelists bring a fresh perspective to land use challenges. The advisory services program is all about offering creative, innovative approaches to community building.”
DeFrancia will be joined on the panel by Sarah Sieloff, executive director, Center for Creative Land Recycling, Oakland, California, who will serve as vice chairman, and panel members Michael Bloom, department manager, sustainability practice, R.G. Miller Engineers, Inc, Houston, Texas, Trini Rodriguez, principal, ParkerRodriquez, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia, Thomas Roth, principal, Grass River Property, Coconut Grove, Florida, Don Edwards, chief executive officer and principal, Justice & Sustainability Associates, Washington, D.C., Chris Calott, LaLanne Chair – R.E. development, architecture and urbanism and associate professor of architecture, University of California, Berkley, California, Jessica Boehland, senior program officer, environment, The Kresge Foundation, Detroit, Michigan, and Bob van der Zande, director of residential markets, City of Amsterdam, Metropolitan Region.
The assignment for Toa Baja is part of a series of advisory panels being supported by a generous grant from The Kresge Foundation to advance the Institute’s promotion of urban design and development practices that are more resilient and adaptable to the impacts of climate change. With Kresge’s support, ULI is leveraging the substantial expertise of its members to provide guidance on community building in a way that helps to preserve the environment as well as boost prosperity and foster a high quality of life.
Now in its 71st year, ULI’s globally renowned advisory services program assembles experts in the fields of real estate and land use planning to participate on panels worldwide, offering recommendations for complex planning and development projects, programs and policies. Panels have developed more than 700 studies for a broad range of land uses, ranging from waterfront properties to inner-city retail.
Past sponsors of ULI advisory service panels include: federal, state and local government agencies; regional councils of government; chambers of commerce; redevelopment authorities; private developers and property owners; community development corporations; lenders; historic preservation groups; non-profit community groups; environmental organizations and economic development agencies.
NOTE TO REPORTERS AND EDITORS: Members of the public and media are invited to a reception on Monday, December 3rd, from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm at the Centro Las Dos Fuentes, 867 Carr Rio Hondo, Toa Baja, PR. The panel will provide its recommendations at a public presentation on Friday, December 7th at 9:00 am at the Centro Comunal Rafael “Pipo” Negron Calle Aetria Ingenio in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.
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 40,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. For more information, please visit uli.org or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.