Development that Empowers [January 2018 Breakfast Recap]

NAIOP WA members and supporters gathered for January’s in-depth presentation from the Runstad Center’s Affiliate Fellows on designing for density that is both equitable and sustainable in our region for the next 100 years.

Before the panel started, NAIOP Washington State outgoing president Kristin Jensen introduced the incoming chapter president, Tony Toppenberg. Tony has been heavily involved in NAIOP since 2007 and was awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2012. He has served on multiple committees, chaired the Membership Committee, and served as treasurer. Tony has 18 years of experience in the construction industry with the last 15 in Seattle. He will serve a one-year term as chapter president.

As the month’s title sponsor, John Schoettler from Amazon showed a video on their work with Mary’s Place and encouraged those in the audience to reach out and help our community.

Suzanne Cartwright, Associate Director, Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, introduced the Affiliate Fellows. The Runstad program aims to be a catalyst for new thinking with unconventional collaboration.

The Fellows delve into the solutions for “development that empowers.” In their aim to research and discover new thinking towards equitable and sustainable growth, they looked at Sydney, Australia, as a case study. There are many similarities between our two cities allowing for insightful analysis and ways in which we can model growth. Without new models of development, the struggle with a limited supply of housing, skyrocketing costs of living, inequitable development, and lack of socio-economic diversity could be upon us.

While The Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan is focused on equitable city growth for the next 20 years, the Runstad Fellows chose to focus on informing patterns for the next 100 years. The findings were really interesting and encouraging.

They summarized their findings with 10 observations and of those, three were shared. The scale of growth with Sydney and its surrounding economic ecosystem is very similar to our region. Interestingly, the Australians do not rent and they have interest-only loans for housing. In terms of planning, they have a much longer horizon, planning for 40 years instead of 20.

The group shared key lessons.

  1. Think Longer, Further, and More Broadly with a polycenter approach. An example for the extended time horizon were initiatives such as the “30-Minute City,” where work and services are within a 30-minute trip. This type of research is housed in an Urban Futures Research Center, an interesting R&D model for Seattle.
  2. Government Serving as a For-profit Master Planner and Developer with a goal to improve quality of life. Each state in Australia (equivalent to our four-county region) had a for-profit corporation for urban growth run by the government. The corporation focuses on asset redevelopment and sets the plan (not an architect or urban planner). If assets are sold, any profit goes back to the citizens.
  3. Redefining Ownership Creates Opportunity. Sydney is the most expensive city in the world, and the group shared alternative models to housing that are in practice and working well. Opportunity is just the beginning with these ownership models, allowing all involved to benefit and thrive.
  4. Holistic Economic Solutions Drive Impact. Creative financing with mixed incomes and job creation are cornerstones to driving equitable growth. The group shared alternative financing models that are working well in Sydney.

The cohort then stressed the importance of the application of these types of initiatives showing ways in which “Ideas Embolden Change” and “Development Empowers.” Empowering the Public Sector, Expanding Planning Horizons, Stepping Up Involvement, and Sharing were other hallmarks.

The 2016-2017 cohort is Rachel Berney, Assistant Professor, Urban Design & Planning, Gundula Proksch, Associate Professor and Architect, Department of Architecture, Martha Barkman, Vice President of Development, Mack Urban, Shannon Loew, Founder of FIX, and Rosey Atkinson, MSRE/MUP Candidate 2017.

The session ended with questions and answers.

This post was written by NAIOP WA and Marcom committee member Sarah D. Fischer, CallisonRTKL.

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