Rose Center for Public Leadership Working with Birmingham Mayor on Civil Rights District


Panel of Interdisciplinary Experts to Advise Birmingham as Part of Yearlong Fellowship Program

BIRMINGHAM – January 26, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The Rose Center for Public Leadership, jointly operated by the National League of Cities (NLC) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI), is working this week with Birmingham Mayor William Bell to help the City, its partners and stakeholders develop a strategy that leverages the assets of the Birmingham Civil Rights District (BCRD)—including the City’s plan to invest $10 million dollars to renovate the historic A.G. Gaston Motel and build a new Freedom Center Public Policy Institute—into a sustainable, vibrant and revitalized urban center.

The Rose Center’s mission is to encourage and support excellence in land use decision making by providing public officials with access to information, best practices, peer networks, and other resources to foster creative, efficient, practical, and sustainable land use policies. Each year, the center’s Daniel Rose Fellowship program invites the mayors of four large U.S. cities to select a team with land use decision-making authority to receive technical assistance on a local land use challenge. This year’s fellowship class is from the cities of Birmingham, Ala.; Denver; Long Beach, Calif. and Rochester, N.Y.

Mayor Bell’s team includes Rose Fellows Andre Bittas, director of the Department of Planning, Engineering & Permits; Denise Bell, the City Floodplain Administrator; and Phil Amthor, senior planner in the Department of Community Development; who are assisted by project manager April Odom, director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Information. In addition to technical assistance on their city’s land use challenge, the fellowship program provides participants with leadership training and professional development opportunities from NLC’s and ULI’s respective programming and networks of public- and private-sector members.

The City decided to focus on the 36-acre, 6-block BCRD—where several significant events in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s took place—because of its rich history and pivotal contributions to the fight for human and civil rights. Along with the proposed renovation of the historic A.G. Gaston Motel and planned new Freedom Center Public Policy Institute, major historic landmarks in the district include the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, restored Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, renovated Carver Theatre and Negro Southern League Museum. The land use challenge for the City of Birmingham, as identified by Mayor Bell and his fellowship team, is to create a physical development plan, economic growth strategy and connectivity plan for the BCRD that positons the district as a central hub for scholars, educators, students and activists while increasing tourism and enhancing nearby neighborhoods.

The panel will be co-chaired by Birmingham’s Rose Fellowship faculty advisers: urban market real estate developer Carlton Brown, co-managing director of Direct Invest Development in New York City; and urban planner Ashley O’Connor, vice president and director of commercial markets for AECOM Americas buildings + places division in Arlington, Va. It also includes Rose Fellows from the other three cities in this year’s class: Anne DaSilva Tella, a project development analyst with the City of Rochester Department of Neighborhood and Business Development; Denver City Council President Christopher Herndon; and Linda Tatum, Planning Bureau manager at the City of Long Beach. Also serving on the panel are several subject matter experts: Cissy Anklam, principal with Museum Concepts in Arlington, Va.; Adam Gelter, executive vice president of the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation; Bryan C. Lee, Jr., director for place + civic design at the Arts Council of New Orleans; and Ashley Wilson, Graham Gund Architect at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C.

The panel will be briefed by Mayor Bell and his team, tour the site and meet with community and civic leaders and other stakeholders. Drawing upon their professional expertise and experience, the panelists will apply the information gathered during the study visit and present recommendations for how the City, its partners and stakeholders can achieve their vision. All of Birmingham’s expenses to participate in the program—including the panel’s visit—are underwritten by the Rose Center to ensure objectivity during the process.

“The City has a unique opportunity to bring a global audience to Birmingham,” said Rose Center Director Jess Zimbabwe. “This panel will help Mayor Bell and his team understand the tools available to leverage that investment to deliver new opportunities throughout the District, the City, and the region.”

“Cities constantly need to reinvest in themselves, their spaces and resources to better serve their community members,” said Clarence Anthony, CEO and executive director of National League of Cities. “We’re excited to partner with Birmingham to revitalize a historic area, spur economic growth and develop a connectivity plan that will fit the needs of today’s city.”

“The Rose Center has an excellent track record of helping cities reinvent themselves to be more vibrant, livable and successful,” said ULI Global Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “We’re excited about the City’s land use challenge in Birmingham, and we look forward to the panel’s recommendations on how to make the BCRD a key destination for both residents and visitors.”

“We are honored to learn from the expertise of the Rose Fellow team this week,” said Birmingham Mayor William Bell. “The Civil Rights District represents the heritage of this City and the legacy we hope to share with future generations. The significance of the experts that we will have in town this week speaks volumes to the emphasis we have placed on developing this district.”

The Daniel Rose Fellowship is the flagship program of the Rose Center, established in 2008 by the ULI Foundation Governor Daniel Rose. The purpose of the program is to provide city leaders with the insights, peer-to-peer learning, and analysis needed to successfully improve their cities. The fellowship’s program of work includes a study tour of another U.S. or foreign city, working retreats at NLC’s and ULI’s national conferences, and study visits to each of the four fellowship cities. The cities of Austin, Texas; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit; Hartford, Conn.; Honolulu; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; Memphis, Tenn.; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; Oakland, Calif.; Omaha, Neb.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Providence, R.I.; Sacramento, Calif.; Seattle; Tacoma, Wash. and Tampa, Fla. have participated in the first six years of the fellowship program.

NOTE TO EDITORS AND REPORTERS: Representatives of the Rose Center will be making a public presentation with preliminary findings from 9-11 a.m. CST on Friday, January 29th at the Lyric Theater located at 1800 Third Avenue North in Birmingham.

About the National League of Cities
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.

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 36,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

contact: Robert Krueger at 202-624-7051

by Robert Krueger

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