By: Wayne Williams, Programs Committee, ULI Atlanta
In 2017, ULI Atlanta’s Programs Committee launched a series called Issues that Matter. This series allows ULI members to hear from Atlanta-based thought leaders to discuss the critical issues challenging Atlanta and surrounding region for creating and sustaining thriving communities. For 2017, the focus of our programs were community development and revitalization, regional and local transportation, and water resource management. A common element of each topic included how these issues intersect with land use and the built environment along with growth and economic development.
The first conversation on community development and revitalization featured Ryan Gravel, the urban designer who came up with the idea for the Atlanta BeltLine. Ryan’s remarks focused on understanding how city design and infrastructure investments like the BeltLine can not only shape a better city, but ensure that everyone benefits from the communities and market forces they generate. He also shared his work, along with Tim Keane at the City of Atlanta, with the City Design Project on how the City should look and feel as the City’s population continues to grow.
The next conversation focused on regional and local transportation infrastructure. Bob Voyles, CEO of Seven Oaks and ULI Atlanta Chair has long been an advocate of building a sense of place and the role of transportation in shaping that place. Bob has served in senior leadership positions with GRTA and in countless other organizations advancing thoughtful transportation planning. Bob discussed the transportation needs of the Atlanta region and his insight for a framework and strategy for long term planning, economic growth, and getting from A to B. The discussion included local and regional transit and transportation options and as well as funding, whether from TSPLOST or elsewhere, and the impact on attracting relocations to the area.
Our final conversation featured Katherine Zitsch, Director of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. Katherine is also heading up the Water Resource Management Plan, under the Atlanta Regional Commission, to address the region’s water resources and its water, wastewater, and watershed management infrastructure. Her discussion covered the water needs of our region, the status of the various water lawsuits, and the outlook for the adoption of responsible political and business policies and practices in consideration of an anticipated 43 percent population growth within twenty five years in the region.
At the heart of the Issues that Matter series is a desire to have meaningful conversations about the matters that impact our everyday lives and the region’s future growth and resilience. Atlanta’s metropolitan area is projected to increase to 7.3 million people by 2030. How do we tackle community development, transportation, and water resource management in a way that will make a stronger economy, value equity and sustainability?
These are some of the issues that matter to ULI Atlanta and our members, and part of our strategic focus. We invite you to let us know what issues matter to you and are worthy of a deep dive conversation and to join us at ULI in 2018.
Wayne Williams is a Tax Member with Warren Averett, LLC.
This event is part of a series hosted by ULI Atlanta which gives special attention to ULI’s core mission to provide leadership on the responsible use of land and create sustaining and thriving communities here in the metro Atlanta region.
This article originally appeared in the December 11, 2017 edition of the Saporta Report.