Rosalyn Doggett’s 2015 ULI Fall Meeting Blog
Unlike some Rose Center recipients, I am a longtime ULI member, graduate of several councils (UDMUC, Affordable Housing) and current member of the TOD Council. I sell and lease land at transit stations to developers for transit-oriented development; the land is owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro), my employer. Like many transit agencies it is strapped for cash, and I am not sure that it would have paid my way to the ULI conference, given that the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) was also meeting at the same time in San Francisco and many operations people were sent to that conference, which is more mainstream for a transit agency.
ULI conferences are worthwhile for me in many respects since they:
- Stretch my horizons, open me to new ideas, for example some of the speakers on disruption, especially those from Airbnb (who really exemplify the “sharing economy” a theme of ULI speakers from several conferences ago) or the idea of repatriation of overseas corporate profits (at a tax discount) to provide federal funding for transit, an idea that has been promoted for a couple of years by a MD congressman from the DC suburbs but seems to be gaining traction.
- Allow me to interact with developers who might be interested in our sites, especially those on my council and to get feedback; for example an equity funder on my Council who provided funding to a developer of a Metro site emphasized that proximity to transit alone, absent a lively environment, has not been enough yet to lift a suburban Metro-adjacent residential project above competitors a bit further from transit but still accessible and with more amenities.
- Help me exchange ideas on how to structure deals for our sites and market them by interaction with council members who do TOD for other transit agencies in NYC, Dallas, LA, Atlanta and San Francisco and by conversations with developers about how to make our solicitation and development review process work more efficiently.
- Offer perspective and the ability to see development and development trends first-hand in other communities– how San Francisco fosters affordable housing near transit (TransBay Center), the scaling down of freeways (Octavia Blvd), how BART itself seems to be doing (showing its age like DC’s system but still providing efficient transit, along with MUNI), and at the other end of the affordable scale how a deluxe development (Lumina) near transit pampers its residents.
- Simply provide an environment for chatting with public and private development professionals on what they are doing and why so that, for example, when a Chicago parking garage developer tells us that the city allowed, and his development partner provided, a .25 parking ratio for apartments next to transit and others chimed in with reduced parking requirements next to transit (though not as low), we listen and advocate; less structured parking can lower the cost of development.
Finally, even though, or perhaps because, I live in Washington, DC, it was thought-provoking to hear Condoleezza Rice’s informed views on world politics.