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For city leaders, attracting new investment to neglected neighborhoods is a fraught challenge. Every decision must juggle housing affordability, economic opportunity and mobility for existing residents, and preserving an area’s unique cultural and historic heritage.

In this year’s Rose Center for Public Leadership land use fellowship, those questions are taking center stage.

Now in its ninth year, the Daniel Rose Land Use Fellowship is an annual program of NLC in partnership with the Urban Land Institute that provides technical assistance on a local urban development challenge in four large U.S. cities each year. The 2017-2018 cohort includes Columbus, Ohio, Richmond, Virginia, Tucson, Arizona, and Salt Lake City.

Starting this week in Richmond, volunteer teams of inter-disciplinary experts led by NLC staff will visit each city to tour their study area, meet with local stakeholders and provide recommendations for how the city can make progress on its selected challenge.

In Richmond, Mayor Levar Stoney has asked the Rose Center to advise the city on synthesizing and implementing a shared vision for the Shockoe Bottom area adjacent to downtown. The city hopes to build a strategy that leverages existing investments and honors its history to create a new destination district, while prioritizing its cultural and historic heritage, goals for economic development and environmental sustainability.

While much of the 129-acre Shockoe Bottom district has been razed and paved over, there has been significant investment over the last two decades. That includes the renovation of Historic Main Street Station, an archeological dig at the Lumpkin’s Jail site (once the nation’s second-largest slave holding facility), and the Richmond Slave Trail, a self-guided walking trail of the history of the movement of enslaved Africans to and through Richmond.

Tucson, Arizona Mayor Jonathan Rothschild is seeking advice on land use goals and a regulatory framework for infill development and neighborhood revitalization of the Oracle area, a 2.6 square mile district. Located north of downtown, the Oracle district was the historic northern gateway into the city before Interstate 10 was completed in the 1960s. It has now been designated as “high-stress” by the City’s Poverty and Urban Stress Index.

For Tucson, providing affordable housing and renovating existing housing stock are prime objectives. The area includes the Tucson House—a public housing facility that provides 27% of the city’s total public housing inventory—and the Pascua Yaqui Recognized Tribal Community, in Oracle’s Old Pascua neighborhood, which has a shortage of 800 housing units for enrolled members.

Facing a systemic housing shortage driven by remarkable urban growth, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is seeking a strategic approach to modernize the city’s land-use and zoning regulations. The city aims to build a system that reflects the affordability needs of a fast-growing, pioneering city — and to offer guidance with removing impediments in city processes to encourage housing development.

The Rose Fellowship will focus on the East Downtown area, where current zoning limits non-residential uses and development regulations don’t promote the efficient use of land. That examination of the problem and could lead to solutions applicable citywide.

With Central Ohio’s population projected to increase by a million people over the next several decades, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther has put forth the goal of ensuring all residents can prosper as the city grows. That includes a special focus on housing options in neighborhoods experiencing high rates of growth — a common issue in many cities.

The City of Columbus is seeking assistance developing a mixed-income housing strategy to ensure its neighborhoods include housing for people with a broad spectrum of incomes, and has selected an area likely to attract the next wave of new investment as a place to examine potential policy changes.

The panels of experts visiting each city is led by faculty advisers — experts in urban development and design — chosen by Rose Center staff to work with the city over the course of the fellowship year. A fellow from each city also serves as a peer adviser on each visiting panel, which are rounded out by subject matter experts recruited by the Rose Center based on the city’s selected challenge. They include numerous ULI member volunteers from around the nation.

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