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Enhancing the Resilience of the Walnut Hill/Denton DART Station Area in Dallas, Texas

I led an Urban Land Institute (ULI) virtual Advisory Services Panel on enhancing the resilience and revitalization of the area around the Walnut Hill/Denton DART Station in Dallas, Texas from August 10-12, 2020. The area was heavily impacted by the EF3 tornado that touched down in October of 2019, which is being compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the community and economy. The City of Dallas, the panel sponsor in partnership with the JP Morgan Chase & Co. Resilient Land Use Cohort (RLUC), asked us to make recommendations related to:

  • The policy and regulatory adjustments that should be considered to impact localized investments and broaden the types of small and minority-and-women owned business enterprises in the study area;
  • Policy, planning and design opportunities to reduce resident vulnerability to extreme heat and other extreme weather;
  • The types of infrastructure investments that would make multi-modal transport easier and more frequented by the area’s residents and workers;
  • Design types and infrastructure needed to attract and sustain a growing population of mixed-income residents while ensuring climate resilience and environmental justice; and
  • Which stakeholders and organizations need to be brought together to impact the physical environment, economic growth and quality of life for residents and workers.
Our ULI virtual Advisory Services Panel and staff.

After reviewing the briefing materials, doing research on the site and its challenges and opportunities, remotely touring the site via a drone, and speaking with a variety of community members, businesses, and decision-makers, the panel deliberated potential paths forward for the area. A central approach we discussed was to ensure that our recommendations not only reduce vulnerability, but also strengthen the area’s environmental performance, economic opportunities, and social equity. Based on our discussions, several key themes emerged including the importance of keeping an authentic sense of place, addressing safety issues and perceptions, strengthening a sense of community, enhancing connectivity, becoming more green and resilient, providing living and transportation options, and taking advantage of current opportunities now.

Our panel’s recommended next steps were to:

  • Coordinate and support the existing group of champions,
  • Engage social services and providers to help the most at-risk individuals,
  • Activate the Walnut Hill/Denton DART Station parking lot,
  • Install bilingual wayfinding,
  • Identify and publicize a safe an accessible resilience hub, and
  • Explore development financing tools to leverage current opportunities.

The slides and full video presentation of our panel’s recommendations are available on the ULI website.

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Extreme Heat Network Webinar with Mead Mier

Lessons from the Tucson Region’s Urban Heat Island Map

Mead Mier, Sustainability Coordinator with Pima Association of Governments, joined our Extreme Heat Network webinar series to discuss her experiences with PAG’s Green Infrastructure Prioritization Tool, which hosts the Tucson region’s urban heat island map, and explains how the map is being used in decision-making to help increase heat resilience.

Sign up on our email list for future Extreme Heat Network webinars.

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Increasing the Resilience of Miami’s Downtown and Urban Waterfront

The Miami River at night.

I chaired a week-long Urban Land Institute (ULI) Advisory Service Panel, June 2 – 7, 2019, on increasing the resilience of Miami’s downtown and urban waterfronts to sea level rise, urban flooding, and extreme heat. The panel was sponsored by the City of Miami and the Miami Downtown Development Authority, with the goal of developing meaningful recommendations for the protection and enhancement of Miami’s economic, natural, and human resources in the urban waterfront area. ULI assembled an amazing team of experts from across the country and it was a pleasure working with and learning from them.

Our panel met with the sponsors and was briefed on the urban waterfront background, toured the site to experience it ourselves, interviewed 80 local stakeholders representing various government agencies, the real estate sector, environmental experts, and community organizations. The interdisciplinary panel then deliberated on the greatest challenges and opportunities and practical recommendations.

We presented our findings to a packed room at the city council chambers on Friday, June 7, 2019. Our key recommendations to the City of Miami and Miami DDA included:

The ULI advisory service panel with Commissioner Ken Russell after the presentation of recommendations.
  • Embrace the legacy of the waterfront through design to protect from water, live with water, and create value from water.
  • Return to Miami’s history and embrace sensitive transit-oriented development (TOD) on the ridge for future growth.
  • Bring existing plans and visions together, act on strategies, and evaluate outcomes.
  • Pursue a portfolio of financial strategies to become the world leader in resilient finance, investment, and construction.
  • Reduce uncertainty for the community and private market through predictability, transparency, and accountability.
  • Incremental actions can lead to transformational changes.

The full 1.5 hour video of our panel recommendations is online at https://www.pscp.tv/w/1LyxBAwzWVkJN.

Additional coverage and information on our ULI Advisory Service Panel:

The full ULI Advisory Service Panel report of our findings and recommendations to the City of Miami and Miami Downtown Development Authority will be available in the fall of 2019.