Smart Growth Stories: Emerick Corsi on driving growth with transit

Many people recognize Forest City Enterprises as one of the biggest real estate companies in the nation, with a multi-billion dollar portfolio that spans coast to coast and a spot on the New York Stock Exchange.

What’s less well known is that Forest City also happens to be one of the biggest advocates of walkable neighborhoods with transportation choices. Real Estate Services President Emerick Corsi is a firm believer in the power of transit to drive economic growth in surrounding areas, and the company is actively pursuing this kind of development. As a member of LOCUS, Forest City understands the impact of transit-oriented development on local economic growth and job creation.

“Those jobs come in many forms,” Corsi says. “They come in the planning form. They come in the design form and in the construction form. For example, construction may be done but that doesn’t mean a project is over. It’s just beginning. You have retail employment space, office space, people moving in. You’re creating a continued source of income and jobs.”

In showcasing how transit-oriented development can spur growth, Corsi cites Forest City’s first project in Boston, University Park at MIT 100, a mixed-use development in a prime location on Massachusetts Avenue and directly across from a transit stop. Corsi attributes its success to its proximity to transit, making it attractive to businesses and residents alike.

“We realized early on that this would be a major selling point no matter what the venue was,” Corsi says.

Likewise, in Stapleton, CO, Forest City developed a walkable, infill neighborhood around two light rail stops. It is now a major hub for these rail lines and a key stop on the way to Denver’s central business district.

“Planning is really important,” Corsi says. “So is knowing early on where the new transit locations are going to be. We know exactly what we’re looking for. We want to be on it, over it, or right next to it.”

But Corsi understands that developers are just one side of the equation for creating economically thriving places where people want to live, work and play.

“I think any developer in the United States or any developer around the world that thinks they can do something without public involvement – whether it’s the transit authority, the city, city council or mayor – is really barking up the wrong tree,” he notes. “That partnership is extremely important.”

By emphasizing public-private cooperation, Forest City is a model for real estate development that can truly benefit everyone, from residents to investors to city governments.

“We’re looking to Congress to help us create the tools we need to create long, sustaining job growth in the United States and in doing that, I think LOCUS has put together a very formidable group,” Corsi says. “We’re very transparent in our approach and if you can help us with the infrastructure financing and parking financing, that can go a long way in job creation and it will also go a long way to relieve the hemorrhaging we now have on the interstate system.”

Local Leaders Council LOCUS