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Sustainable Communities Thought Leadership

ULI Atlanta’s Center for Leadership Team Announces Seven Impactful Metro Atlanta projects

By: Kenwin Hayes, Sr., Urban Land Institute Member and mTAP Chair (2021-2022); and Principal at ReUrbanis Advisors & Shirlynn Fortson, mTAP Co-Chair (2021-2022), Economic Development Director at City of Brookhaven (GA).

“Whoever renders service to many puts himself in line for greatness – great wealth, great return, great satisfaction, great reputation, and great joy.” This quote from Jim Rohn exemplifies the service that CFL participants provide the Atlanta region every year in their volunteer endeavor to make our city and communities healthier and more inclusive places.

In September 2021, 35 emerging leaders from ULI Atlanta’s Center for Leadership program began the program’s 13th year. The program aims to cultivate leadership and life-strategy skills by teaching emerging leaders in the real estate and land use industries how the Atlanta region gets built and how their decisions shape the future of the built environment.

As part of this 9-month professional development program, participants have the opportunity to help shape a project that advances a critical land use or real estate development issue. This year, the class was  divided into seven (7) teams to provide pro-bono technical assistance on land use challenges presented by a mix of local governments, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations. The program offers communities throughout the Metro Atlanta region access to the brightest minds  but also provides leadership development opportunities for the participants. During its 13 year history, the mTAP program has engaged over 60 clients ranging from cities and counties across the metro area to MARTA, Invest Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine, metro area CIDs and influential non-profits. 

In 2021, the seven (7) communities were selected by the class participants and were characterized around one of three themes: Research, Reimagine, Redevelop. This theme helps to formulate the class’s commitment to understanding the history, helping to reimagine the opportunities by leveraging existing assets and presenting a redevelopment plan that aligns with community needs. The following projects will be executed over the coming months and presented in May 2022:

Client: Decide Dekalb 

The Challenge: Complete a retail analysis with an emphasis on food deserts. The analysis will be used to develop a strategy to attract retailer developers and grocers to Dekalb County. 

Client: City of Decatur/Decatur Land Trust Board of Directors

The Challenge: How to use existing tools to identify and track a city’s privately-owned affordable housing and make meaningful policy decisions based on data. 

Client: Atlanta Land Trust

The Problem/Challenge: Provide a sustainable pathway to affordable homeownership while mitigating legacy resident displacement in the Westside of Atlanta by developing a land trust lease-purchase program.

Client: Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Problem/Challenge: Develop a concept plan for highest and best use of each of the remaining five (5) development pads at Pittsburgh Yards with a focus on job density and existing Industrial Mixed-Use zoning.

Client: City of Atlanta (Department of City Planning)

The Problem/Challenge: Establish a formal design review process to raise the standard of design for the City of Atlanta so that the development process produces better design.

Client: Tucker-Northlake CID

The Problem/Challenge: Provide a redevelopment strategy for an area in Downtown Tucker know as “South of the Tracks” including use of appropriate incentives to spur investments.

Client: Central Atlanta Progress (CAP)

The Problem/Challenge: Provide actionable recommendations to inform future predevelopment investment and strategic business planning for an area in Downtown Atlanta that is a planned mixed-use interdisciplinary innovation district known as “The Forge.”


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