The 2016 LOCUS National Leadership Summit took place last week at the Algonquin Club of Boston, MA, bringing together the nation’s leading real estate developers, investors, and local elected officials from around the country. Participants shared ideas, created new business deals, discussed smart growth issues, and prepared themselves for the future of smart growth development.
Doug Landry moderates the first of many thought-provoking panels.
The 2016 Summit kicked off with an opening plenary titled, “My Big Idea for Creating Communities for the Next American Century.” The session featured Tawan Davis, CEO & Managing Partner of the Streinbridge Group; Colleen Carey, Founder & President of the Cornerstone Group; Stephanie Pollack, Secretary & CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation; and Doug Landry, Senior Vice President of VHB, who moderated the panel. The panelists shared key development strategies, including ways to help communities during a crisis. Davis emphasized ways to better identify assets, Carey discussed building a culture of health and happiness, and Pollack highlighted the importance of connecting communities through transportation.
Later in the afternoon was the much-anticipated launch of Foot Traffic Ahead 2016: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s largest Metros. The new report, released at the Summit, ranks the country’s 30 largest metropolitan areas based on the amount of commercial and multi-family rental development in WalkUPs, and uses a series of forward-looking metrics to predict how walkable their future development might be. Download the full report to learn more about this year’s rankings.
Janelle Chan of the Asian CDC accepts the Richard Baron Affordable Housing Award.
The first day concluded with the presentation of the 2016 LOCUS National Leadership Awards and cocktail reception. This year’s Developer of the Year award went to Thomas O’Brien, Founding Partner & Managing Director of the HYM Investment Group, for his exceptional leadership and commitment to building smart growth projects. Continuum Partners was named the 2016 Company of the Year, and that award was accepted by Continuum’s Founder and CEO, Mark Falcone. And the Richard Baron Affordable Housing Award was presented to Janelle Chan, Executive Director of the Asian Community Development Corporation, for her dedication to transforming neighborhoods like Boston’s Chinatown into sustainable, vibrant communities.
The second day of the Summit began with several presentations from smart growth experts. Dr. Rodney Harrell, Director of AARP Livable Communities,moderated a panel on creative placemaking. Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development highlighted the need for long-term, durable projects during a panel on why American companies are moving downtown. And Ryan Frederick, Founder and CEO of Smart Living 360, spoke about how 77 million Baby Boomers and a new era of longevity are helping to redefine housing in America.
Donald Wood addresses the crowd during his keynote speech.
After a networking luncheon, the Summit keynote speech was given by Donald C. Wood, President of Federal Realty Investment Trust. “When you’re building a project, its about building a lasting partnership with the community,” Wood explained as he emphasized the importance of the community and cooperation. He also advised participants to stay away about from narrow-minded investors “who try to force buildings where they shouldn’t go” and lack the understanding that what works for one community doesn’t work for others. Wood closed by reminding developers to be “thoughtful and selective” while picking projects and that he wants to see an increase in transit-oriented development, but wants it done right.
Throughout the course of the event, participants shared highlights and insights on Twitter at the hashtag #LOCUSsummit. Here are a few highlights:
Christopher Coes, Director of LOCUS, and Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, provided the closing remarks for the event. They each touched on how issues raised at the Summit go beyond real estate, and how LOCUS’ work can better bridge those divides.