This year’s Urban Land Institute (ULI) Fall Meeting was held in Los Angeles and I had the opportunity to speak on a panel titled, “From Eye Sore to a Must See: Creating Urban Parks from Thin Air and Adding Real Estate Value” moderated by Kirk Humphreys of Humphreys Corporation (and former Oklahoma City mayor) and alongside Daniel Biederman of Bryant Park Management Corporation and Biederman Redevelopment Venture Corporation and Vaughn Davies, Principal at AECOM. My presentation focused on what creative solutions can be brought to our aging urban infrastructure.
I shared case studies of SWA projects such as Milton Street Park, the Buffalo Bayou Promenade and Katy Trail to demonstrate how public open space can be integrated into a city’s infrastructure to enhance community use, increase value in adjacent properties and nurture a new, attractive destination in the public realm.
The aim of my talk looked at two questions:
1) Can infrastructure be multi-functional? and
2) Can newly created open space increase land value while solving issues of ecology, programming, safety and access?
In the Buffalo Bayou Promenade example, office building rents dramatically increased in 2006-2007, the same year that the promenade was completed. The rents in these buildings have since stabilized at that rate, despite the downturn in the economy.
Biederman’s focus demonstrated the real value that can be seen in creative programming to revitalize a park. Notably, he shared data on Bryant Park’s transformation in the 90’s having dramatically benefited the adjacent Grace Office Building, which experienced a 114% increase in rents from 1990-2002, versus comparable rents adjacent to times Square rising 67%, Grand Central’s 55% and Rockefeller Center’s 41%.
Davies’ brought to the table the conceptual design of cap parks over freeways and its promise of connectivity and beautification for urban areas, specifically AECOM’s proposal for a linear cap park over the 101 freeway in Los Angeles.
This open forum discussion is another step in furthering the conversation of Landscape Infrastructure and its potential to make our cities better.
[For a CD copy of the presentation, please contact us as firstname.lastname@example.org.]