Miami Beach Can Improve Resilience with Strategy that Expands Beyond Stormwater Management and Includes Livability, Economic Issues: Urban Land Institute


Convened through a partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, ULI experts assessed effectiveness of the city’s stormwater management program

WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — The City of Miami Beach can build on its efforts to improve resilience with a broader strategy that factors in livability, green infrastructure and economic issues in addition to stormwater management, according to the Urban Land Institute (ULI). ULI’s recommendations are included in a report released this week following a visit to Miami Beach this past April by a group of land use and urban development experts convened by the Institute to advise municipal leaders on the effectiveness of the city’s plan to mitigate frequent flooding.


ULI is a global, multidisciplinary real estate organization whose work is driven by more than 40,000 members dedicated to ULI’s mission of responsible land use and building thriving communities. The panel was convened through ULI’s Advisory Services Program, which for more than 70 years has gathered groups of ULI members who are experts in the fields of real estate development and land use to advise communities facing complex urban development challenges.

The panel noted that several principles should guide the city’s implementation of an expanded resilience strategy, including:

  • Maintain a sense of urgency as the strategy evolves to keep building support for investments in climate adaptation infrastructure
  • Be ready to adapt the strategy to new technologies, data, and economic and physical realities
  • Ensure transparency regarding advancement in the stormwater management plan and broader strategy through clear communications with residents and other stakeholders
  • Respect the city’s ecological endowment
  • Continue to exercise financial pragmatism by self-financing stormwater improvements
  • Recognize opportunities to advance quality-of-life and economic development goals
  • Prioritize social equity
  • Preserve cultural identity through creative placemaking, and
  • Position the city as a leader in resilience

Using these principles as a guide, the panel issued detailed recommendations regarding infrastructure, physical design and typology, creative placemaking, governance, financing, regulations and communications. The recommendations for improving resilience in these areas reflected opportunities related to:

  • Integrating flood management within the greater resiliency strategy – Include stormwater management within broader resilience goals to allow for a more comprehensive, long-term approach to living with water
  • Enhancing public trust, trusting the public, and increasing transparency – Future efforts should better integrate public comment and outreach into the decision-making process
  • Elevating public aesthetics and function to perpetuate the city’s cultural relevance – Investments in resilience should seek to improve health, quality of life, and build from a culture of arts, heritage and placemaking in Miami Beach
  • Actively using green and open space – Use open space to manage water as well as to serve as a community amenity
  • Increasing long-term financial and comprehensive protection – A comprehensive strategy can help the city leverage funding sources and be strategic about its approach to risk, and
  • Embracing the resilience brand – Miami Beach can distinguish itself from other coastal cities as an international leader in resilience, gaining a competitive advantage and sparking additional investment and economic development

The panel, sponsored by the City of Miami Beach, was chaired by leading ULI member Joyce Coffee, founder and president of Chicago-based Climate Resilience Consulting. “Around the world, the allure of coastal living and tourism is high, yet coastal cities face disproportionate risks to climate change hazards,” Coffee said. “Miami Beach – with three miles of coast for their seven square miles of land – could have been the definition of a city on the wane in a climate changed area.  Instead, the city has taken courageous steps to be at the forefront of solutions that protect property and improve quality of life over time. It’s likely that if the city increases the significant investments that have been made, and focuses on optimizing its approach with integrated models that improve overall resilience, Miami Beach will be at an advantage over other coastal destinations. But, it won’t be easy or cheap.”

While ULI’s recommendations focus on Miami Beach, they can be adapted to other metropolitan regions. The panel’s work in the city is part of the Institute’s ongoing effort to assist communities nationwide with improving resilience. Over the past several years, ULI has assisted communities throughout the U.S., including Norfolk, Virginia; Portland, Maine; Lafayette, Louisiana; Seattle, Washington; and El Paso, Texas. “ULI’s work on urban resilience is based on the premise that we can strengthen community resilience through what we build, where we build and how we build,” said ULI Global Chief Executive Officer W. Edward Walter. “Improving resilience is an opportunity to build better communities that are positioned not just to withstand changing climate conditions, but to better meet the needs and expectations of future generations. We see building for resilience as building for the future.”

The ULI panel was funded through a partnership with the 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC), an organization dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to physical, social, and economic challenges of the 21st century. In 2016, the City of Miami Beach was selected to join the 100RC Network, in partnership with the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County. The report from the ULI panel will inform the development of the Greater Miami and the Beaches Resilience Strategy, due to be released in early 2019. As a 100RC Platform Partner, ULI provides technical expertise and solutions in the areas of resilience and land use planning to cities in the 100RC Network.

Coffee, the panel chairman, was joined on the panel by several leading ULI members and land use experts: Juanita Hardy, Senior Visiting Fellow for Creative Placemaking, ULI, Washington, DC; Jeff Hebert, Vice President for Adaptation and Resilience, Water Institute (former New Orleans Chief Resilience Officer); Louisiana; Phillip Kash, Principal, HR&A, Washington, DC; Greg Lowe, Global Head of Resilience and Sustainability, Aon,  London, UK; Walter Meyer, Founding Principal, Local Office Landscape Architecture, New York, New York; Christian Nyerup Nielsen, Global Service Line Leader, Climate Adaptation and Flood Management, Ramboll, Copenhagen, Denmark; Mark Osler, Associate Vice President, Coastal Science & Engineering, Michael Baker International, Alexandria, VA; ; and Greg West, President and CEO, ZOM, Miami, Florida and ULI Southeast Florida/Caribbean Chair.

The strength of ULI’s Advisory Services Program lies in ULI’s unique ability to draw upon the knowledge and expertise of its diverse membership, which includes real estate developers, engineers, investors, architects, urban planners and designers working across private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Past sponsors of ULI Advisory Services panels include federal, state, and local governments; regional councils of government; chambers of commerce; redevelopment agencies; private developers and property owners; community development organizations; lenders; groups focused on historic preservation; local nonprofits; environmental organizations and economic development authorities.

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 42,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. For more information, please visit  or follow us on TwitterFacebook,LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Contact: Trisha Riggs at 202-679-4557;

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