Paul Young’s 2017 ULI Fall Meeting Blog
The 2017 ULI Fall Meeting was an outstanding event and I found it to be very rewarding and informative as a public official. I currently serve as the Director of the City of Memphis Division of Housing and Community Development and our Division is involved in a number of large and small projects that stand to have tremendous impacts in neighborhoods across the City. As we navigate these projects, it was helpful to hear the insights of real estate professionals from across the country.
While the context of the challenges in our community may be somewhat different than other communities, through the conference I found that there are also a lot of similarities. For instance, during one of the opening sessions there was a discussion about a mixed use development project in Los Angeles called LA Live. While this project is very different in size and scale from projects that we are working on in Memphis, the issues around affordability, market saturation, and minority participation were very similar to challenges we experience here.
Another positive observation from the conference was that there seemed to be a very intentional emphasis on equity weaved throughout many of the sessions. As a city that has significant issues with poverty that disproportionately affects people of color, I was keenly interested in strategies and approaches that could enhance development in an inclusive way. The conference did a great job of focusing on this issue.
My favorite session was the John Burns session that was focused on changing demographics in the country. One of the more enlightening observations that he proposed was that despite the trend of people moving back to cities, that suburban areas will still see demand from families primarily due to quality schools and larger housing stock. This notion caused me to think about how we might be able to focus development support in our more dense downtown areas, but also place an emphasis on maintaining and improving our inner ring suburban style communities within the City of Memphis. By supporting neighborhoods with diverse housing styles and sizes, cities will be more readily able to accommodate the lifestyle choices of all families.
Overall, this was a tremendous event and I look forward to making this conference a priority next fall.