What does a livable Atlanta mean to our next Mayor?
All Mayoral Candidates were invited to share their platforms and 9 of the 14 candidates running joined this event.
Last week, along with countless ULI members and friends, I had the honor of bearing witness to the life, leadership, and legacy of Noel Khalil. Noel was a longtime member and supporter of ULI Atlanta. He was always generous with his time, perspectives, and leadership, embodying the ULI ethos of open knowledge sharing and mentorship. His life’s work and companies he founded, Columbia Residential and Columbia Ventures, are exemplars of both the old and new ULI mission – leadership in the responsible use of land, building and sustaining thriving communities, and transformative impact in communities worldwide.
Noel was a founding member of the ULI Atlanta Livable Communities Council, serving on the inaugural executive committee, and his developments were recipients of several ULI Awards for Excellence over the years. I personally admired his significant leadership in affordable housing and authentic commitment to the dignity, affirmation, and investment in all people. He taught me the importance of inspired architecture and attention to detail in mixed-income communities. And his organization’s commitment to high quality, transit-oriented development continues to be a tremendous asset to our region.
Housing affordability remains one of the greatest challenges facing our industry and community and the loss of Noel at this time feels like a particularly significant loss. But his legacy lives on through his company, his partners, and all who he has mentored over the years.
Everyone who knew Noel has at least one meaningful Noel Khalil story. I had the pleasure of knowing him over the past seventeen years and felt a particular privilege that I would often see him at our shared neighborhood shopping center or out at restaurants. But my story dates to when I first met him. It was 2004 and I went to his office to interview him for a consulting assignment near Fort McPherson. We covered the intended topics, our personal backgrounds, and more and somewhere along the way I found myself pitching him on a ‘town center’ concept for the Oakland City MARTA station parking lots. He told me, with no irony accounting for my age or gender, that I should develop it myself. Our meeting turned into lunch and follow-up conversations and shortly after meeting him I found myself navigating the complicated decisions of becoming a working mother, a time in culture when women having children was seen as a professional liability. Noel gave me a particular vote of confidence, that he believed in me and what I was capable of, and it was just what I needed at a really important professional crossroads. His memorial service was a reminder of how he did this for countless others, and we all felt so lucky for it.
Please join me in offering our deepest condolences to Noel’s family, colleagues and friends and utmost gratitude for the difference he made in our city, our industry, and the lives of so many across the southeast. His legacy lives on through the work of so many.