Economic Opportunity Panels Providing Thought Leadership

Aligned with ULI’s larger diversity, equity, and inclusion goals, the Advisory Services program in 2021 conducted a series of economic opportunity panels providing thought leadership and actionable steps for underinvested communities in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Rochester, New York. Economic opportunity panels have a specific focus on African American communities and other communities of color that suffer from disinvestment. Employing its time-tested Advisory Services panel process, the panels included evaluating the land economics of the area, reviewing the background provided by the sponsors, interviewing important community stakeholders, and providing recommendations to help stakeholders revitalize the area in a way that benefits its existing community. The work is supported in large part by the ULI Foundation and its donors.   

Rochester, New York 

ULI was asked by the city of Rochester, New York, to convene a virtual Advisory Services panel (vASP) focusing on the Bull’s Head neighborhood, a key historic western gateway to the city. The area is a predominantly African American community with strip commercial and retail development and single-family homes. The city owns significant acreage in the heart of Bull’s Head and this 12-acre redevelopment area has the potential to act as a catalyst for new commercial and retail development. The panel was tasked with providing recommendations on revitalizing the Bull’s Head neighborhood and ways to attract and sustain new small and local businesses to the area.  

Specifically, the panel provided strategic recommendations on what commercial goods and services would be best for the area while retaining its core character; best practices for taking on a new identity within the city and region; and creative ways to successfully recruit and sustain new small and local businesses in forthcoming commercial space.   

See the panel’s presentation. 

Watch the panel’s presentation recording.  

The panel was chaired by Paul Bernard (Georgetown University) and included panelists Antoine Bryant (Moody Nolan, now City of Detroit), Ashley Jones (Invest Atlanta, now Microsoft), Kimberly Robinson (Pioneer Valley Planning Commission), Lawrence (Larry) Cranor (RKG Associates Inc.), Bill Lashbrook (PNC Bank, retired).   


Vancouver, British Columbia


ULI was invited by Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation, the Community Impact Real Estate Society, and ULI British Columbia to Vancouver, British Columbia,  to convene a virtual Advisory Services panel to address the intersection of work and housing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighborhood. The area has a rich history of culture and community, having historically been home to indigenous populations and communities of color. The Downtown Eastside neighborhood has also experienced significant removal and displacement driven by economic and policy decision-making. As a result, the neighborhood currently experiences high rates of residents facing precarious employment and housing and heightened illicit activity. The panel was specifically tasked with making recommendations on safe, sustainable housing solutions for workers who are engaged in full-time employment or training and who are housing insecure.   

Panelists were specifically asked to provide strategic recommendations on the ideal structure of the partnership to create housing options for individuals who are employed and experiencing homelessness; what tenancy options could look like for worker-focused housing; the benefits of mixed-use buildings in the creation of worker-focused housing; and creative strategies at the intersection of housing and employment for the Downtown Eastside neighborhood.   

See the panel’s presentation. 

Watch the panel’s presentation recording.  

The panel was led by Laura London (Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing) and Richard K. Green (University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy). Panelists included Charmaine Atherton (Banc of America Community Development Corporation), Illana Branda (Services to End and Prevent Homelessness, Montgomery County (Maryland) Department of Health and Human Services), Hal Ferris (Spectrum Development Solutions), Christopher Ptomey (Terwilliger Center for Housing, Urban Land Institute), Jermain Ruffin (Equitable Planning and Legislative Affairs, City of Detroit, now Invest Detroit) and Jeahny Shim (Housing Lab Toronto).   

To bring an Advisory Services panel to your community, contact Advisory Services today.  




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