Grassroots Collaboration For Tomorrow’s Sustainable Communities: The Urban Land Institute Announces Six Winners In The Semi-Annual Awards For Community Action Grants


WASHINGTON, DC – May 19, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — Six grants have been awarded in the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) semi-annual funding of its Community Action Grants program. Through the program, the ULI Foundation Fund raises money to be distributed as grants to district councils or ULI members on behalf of nonprofit organizations for entrepreneurial programs that aim to improve urban growth in their communities.

Grants are awarded for creative, innovative community outreach or education programs.  Since the program’s creation six years ago, the ULI Foundation has awarded 71 community action grants totaling $1.54 million to district councils in the United States and beyond.  ULI awards grants twice a year and announces each at its annual ULI Fall Meeting and Spring Council Forum.

“While all ULI Foundation work is centered upon research, education, and public service programs, the Community Action Grant program was specifically created to encourage creativity of entrepreneurial projects at the regional and local level,” said program review committee chair Stephen P. Navarro, president, Furman Co., Inc. in Greenville, South Carolina.   “The awards winners have the potential to build community consensus for action and change.   By encouraging new ideas and supporting the most entrepreneurial projects, all communities can benefit because these projects can be replicated in other communities.”

Grants totaling $110,000 were awarded to these six district councils; winners were announced this week during the ULI Real Estate Forum at the Spring Council Forum in Phoenix.

  • St. Louis Transit Platform (Citizens for Modern Transit):   The St. Louis Transit Platform is a public/private partnership led by Citizens for Modern Transit, a not-for-profit advocacy group that led efforts to expand light rail. The Platform proposes to develop a transit-oriented development (TOD) Clearinghouse that will serve as a one-stop shop for landowners, developers, and local municipalities to learn about tools and funding sources. The TOD Clearinghouse will also identify best practices and TOD guidelines applicable to slow- and moderate-growth areas and serve as a model for markets similar to St. Louis. Finally, as part of the Platform, ULI St. Louis will lead a Technical Assistance Panel and develop an implementation strategy focusing on land assembly, zoning, market potential, and incentives necessary to position specific transit stations for future TOD.
  • PlanMD Workshops (ULI Baltimore):  The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) has asked ULI Baltimore to convene a series of workshops throughout the state to solicit the development community’s input on PlanMD, Maryland’s first statewide master plan. Recognizing that in the past it has not reached out sufficiently to the development community during its outreach and consensus-building process, the state would like to work with ULI to obtain feedback from the private real estate sector to ensure that the plan is relevant and effective. The CAG will fund these workshops, which will provide a unique opportunity to convene the players essential for implementing Maryland’s land use policy. The goal of these workshops is to provide MDP with the real-life input of developers in diverse regions of Maryland on what can be done at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure the success of the state’s collective growth policy. ULI Washington will also be a key partner.
  • Woodward Avenue Linear City (ULI Detroit):  Woodward Avenue is one of the premier roadways in Michigan. The Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) convened a group of elected officials representing five suburban cities along Woodward within Oakland County—Ferndale, Berkley, Birmingham, Huntington Woods, and Royal Oak—and formed a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Task Force in response to the lack of discussion, consensus, vision, or direction about the possibility of an extension of the Woodward Light Rail Transit (WLRT) project currently underway in Detroit (Wayne County). The TOD Task Force recognized the value of creating a vision for the Woodward Avenue corridor as a unified “linear city” that is “transit ready,” and agreed to identify the land use, zoning, and master plan changes needed to support rapid transit. CAG funds will be used to research land use strategies, conduct policy outreach and education, and support promotional activities to roll out the vision and implementation plans.
  • Sustainable Agriculture: Measuring Success(ULI Idaho):  Over the past 50 years, Ada County (75 percent of the Treasure Valley regional area) has lost half its farmland, and the buildout of adopted city and county plans will consume almost all the remaining agricultural land. The CAG will fund a three-part research project that will build on a Crossroads Research Center study that examined the local farm and food economy of the Idaho region. The first project component will be research—conducted under the direction of the University of Idaho College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with support from the Idaho Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Treasure Valley Food Coalition—to identify metrics for determining both the economic sustainability of the local food economy and for improving the region’s contribution toward supporting local food. The second component will be an assessment of agricultural land use; and the third will be public dissemination of the information generated. The data and maps will be the subject of a ULI program this fall and will be included in the guidebook for the February 2012 Reality Check.
  • Strengthening Our Urban Fabric: Creating a Complete Streets Policy for Memphis/Shelby County (ULI Memphis):  Memphis/Shelby County road infrastructure has evolved into a system that primarily facilitates the movement of passenger vehicles and freight at the expense of pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders. In addition, the current highway infrastructure reduces connectivity and contributes to the deterioration of the urban center and surrounding residential areas. The CAG will help fund development of a Memphis/Shelby County Complete Streets policy. Complete Streets will allow Memphis/Shelby County to increase the capacity, efficiency, and effectiveness of the existing road and street network, and ensure that future investments in transportation infrastructure address the mobility needs of all residents.
  • Southeast Florida Congress of Regional Leaders and Public-Officials Workshops Project (ULI Southeast Florida/Caribbean):  ULI Southeast Florida/Caribbean is a key consortium member within the Southeast Florida Regional Partnership and has a seat on the Executive Committee. The Partnership has secured a Federal Sustainable Communities Planning Grant to develop a regional vision for the seven counties in Southeast Florida. The regional vision is for the same geographic area as the District Council’s boundaries, and plays an important role in the District Council strategic plan and priorities for the next three years. The CAG will fund two specific activities ULI Southeast Florida/Caribbean will be leading within the Partnership. The first is the creation and convening of a Congress of Regional Leaders; the second is the development of a curriculum for the public-officials workshops to educate community leaders on implementation strategies for various parts of the vision.

The six winners were selected by a review committee of renowned land use development and planning experts.  In addition to review chairman Stephen P. Navarro, other members were William A. Gilchrist, director of place-based planning, Mayor’s Office of Facilities, Infrastructure, and Community Planning, City of New Orleans; S. Gail Goldberg, former planning director, City of Los Angeles Planning Department; John H. Mays, managing partner, Gould & Ratner, Chicago; and Gregory J. Vogel, chief executive officer, Land Advisors Organization in Scottsdale, Arizona.

In selecting the winners, the jury sought projects that reflected innovative, new ideas; measurable outcomes; a prominent role for ULI in the project; models that could be applied to other places; and projects that focused on ULI’s three core areas:  sustainability, infrastructure and workforce/affordable housing.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute ( ) is a global 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 nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

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