HOUSTON, TX – March 15, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) –On Tuesday, March 9th, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Houston District Council hosted a forum with Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker to gain her insights on the most pressing priorities for the City of Houston. The forum also provided an opportunity for more than 250 real estate professionals to report their own opinions about City priorities.
“Although we’ve been working for 60 days, it’s not all fixed yet,” the Mayor joked as she settled into a conversational setting with former ULI Houston Chairman, Ed Wulfe, President of Wulfe & Co.
After a dialogue with Wulfe about the need to repair aging infrastructure and raise funds to address flooding and drainage problems, MayorParker also said she hopes to increase regional cooperation among mayors and counties, “because flood waters don’t stop at a city boundary.”
Mayor Parker affirmed her desire to keep METRO on track and complete the light rail lines currently under construction, while working to solve problems within the agency.
Thanking Wulfe for finally asking her a “softball question” on the issue of Quality of Life, Parker smiled and talked of her love for Houston bayous and parks, and her desire to see continued beautification of green space and conservation along key waterways throughout the City.
Questions from ULI audience members touched on affordable housing, long-range planning and government process. Parker said her emphasis on affordable housing would shift to upgrading and repairing what is already on the ground, although admitting the best way to deal with some dilapidated housing units may be to tear them down. Also, she suggested including middle-income and mixed-income housing in future developments, having the City take a more holistic view that is not just limited to exclusively low-income housing.
Mayor Parker said she would like to see more community development from the City’s Department of Houston and Community Development, joking that the later part of the title seems to have been forgotten in earlier administrations.
ULI Houston Chair, Reid Wilson, a real estate attorney with Wilson, Cribbs & Goren law firm, asked participants to discuss three questions around their tables and report back to the Mayor (see ULI Houston Mayoral Forum, Report Back From Participants)
* What should be Mayor Parker’s top priority for her first term?
* How should the City fund this priority? Are there funding mechanisms or revenue sources the City should explore that it is not?
* How can the Urban Land Institute, Houston, help Mayor Parker tackle this priority successfully?
“There is no better ‘brain trust’ in the industry than this group,” Wilson said. “Are you willing to give our Mayor some of your thoughts?”
The results focused heavily on public infrastructure (a ULI national priority): METRO, streets, transportation/connectively generally and drainage/flooding. Funding options focused on maximizing available Federal and State funding, and working across local government jurisdictional boundaries to create cost effective solutions. Participants urged ULI to serve as an informational and leadership resource to the City and said the potential of the group had not been fully utilized in the past.
Wulfe summarized the group’s attitude: “We at ULI are ready to help Mayor Parker and Houston work though tough issues in tough times with our knowledge of best practices and the ability to get projects accomplished. When do we start?”
About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org) is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in sustaining and creating thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. For more information about ULI Houston, visit www.uli-houston.org
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