POTUS Visits the Somerset Project
In 2015, NP led a consulting team to identify possible reuse options for the 300 acre Brayton Point Power Plant which at the time was New England’s largest fossil fuel plant. NP assessed surrounding neighborhood context, environmental constraints, coastal and zoning regulatory regulations, and traffic considerations. The NP team created some potential redevelopment scenarios including one as green energy hub and marine industrial center. Once so notorious for pollution it topped a list of the “Filthy Five” most environmentally harmful plants in the state, Brayton Point is now poised to be integral to the production and distribution of wind energy. President Joe Biden launched a federal-state partnership committed to growing the offshore wind power industry last month, with the specific aim of bolstering the supply chain needed to get wind farms up and running. The transformation of Brayton Point served as the backdrop for the launch of his plans to combat climate change. Watch his press conference here.
Intel to Build $20 Billion Manufacturing Facility in Licking County Ohio
As a industry sector partner with Planning NEXT, NP is working with a group of public and private leaders in Licking County to create a countywide strategic growth management plan to prepare for Intel’s $20 billion chip manufacturing facility. The Intel project is set to utilize over 1,000 acres east of Columbus, and is also expected to create 7,000 construction jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs. It is possible this stage is just the first part of a $100 billion investment by the company thanks to the CHIPS Act.
Greater Philadelphia Cell and Gene Therapy Industry
In 2018, for the PIDC and the CEO Council for Growth, NP performed an analysis of the cell and gene therapy industry, and assessed the infrastructure required to support Philadelphia's continued leadership in this emerging industry. NP's work included examining the different approaches to make these products; their facility needs; and the amount of product development and company formation taking place. NP identified the role of University City and identified the adjacent areas critical for biologics production. Here are some exciting updates since the analysis was conducted:
Overland Park, Kansas
As part of the Planning NEXT team, NP is assessing the overall economic environment for the city of Overland Park. Overland Park, which was voted the number 1 place to raise a family in 2019 by Livability, is the second-most populous city (Pop. 197,000) in Kansas. The plan will guide future growth, redevelopment and land use. It will focus on implementation, with a strong commitment to community engagement and a focus on key social and environmental issues.
Breaking Ground on New Haven Bioscience Lab
In May 2021, NP’s collaborative plan for developing more lab space on Downtown Crossing in New Haven was approved. Late last month, the developers broke ground on the 10 story, 500, 000 square foot bioscience building in New Haven, CT. The new lab space is located in Downtown Crossing - the ongoing Route 34 Highway Reclamation project. NP has partnered with the City of New Haven and Yale University on several initiatives related to life sciences and innovation in the city. NP also provided transaction support to the city during the due diligence and review phase of the 101 College St project.
NP is assessing the economic conditions of Evanston’s business corridors as part of the Interface Studio team and devising a reinvestment strategy for the city's business districts. Evanston, a city of 75,000, is located 12 miles north of Downtown Chicago. Evanston consists of 9 business districts. COVID, plus the changing nature of retail, has impacted these districts greatly. The purpose of this project is to understand Evanston’s commercial landscape, identify gaps, evaluate the competitive trade area, evaluate the potential of each business district, and identify physical improvements supportive of business district activities.
Future of Las Vegas Trail in Fort Worth, TX
NP is part of a team led by Interface Studio providing a much needed, and long awaited full scale economic transformation plan for the revitalization of the Las Vegas Trail commissioned by the City of Fort Worth. The city is looking to deepen their understanding of the root causes of the economic hardship in the neighborhood and devise a plan for addressing them strategically and quickly.. NP is helping the city answer these questions by providing an in-depth examination of economic issues, access to community support systems, and a look towards future trends. The goal of the plan is to provide actionable recommendations on what kinds of new infrastructure investments and economic programs the City must make to turn this neighborhood around.
Guiding Downtown Development in Montgomery, AL
NP continues to support the implementation of the “Envision Montgomery” comprehensive plan by working with the Chamber of Commerce and the City on a Downtown 2.0 Plan. The previous downtown plan was adopted in 2007. While much has been accomplished the downtown remains a work in progress. With additional development spurred by the Equal Justice Initiative and the expansion of tourism, a Downtown 2.0 Action Plan effort was launched to revisit the vision plan, set new priorities, and identify the next set of opportunities for Montgomery’s downtown.
Shaping Newark’s Future - Newark360
Newark360 is the citywide comprehensive planning effort to shape the future of Newark’s neighborhoods and business districts. NP is part of a team led by WRT working with the city and community stakeholders on shaping the plan. NP is providing technical assistance on economic and housing issues facing the city and helping to facilitate conversations among the various partners to inform future development patterns for the city.
The University of Georgia’s Booming Innovation District
The University of Georgia’s Innovation District continues to make progress after the innovation district study and development plan spearheaded by NP in 2017. Since then, the UGA innovation district has offered entrepreneurial mentorship, accelerator programs, offices for startups and community building events. Furthermore, the district is acting as a magnet for startup companies and creatives looking to expand their talent base by collaborating with UGA students.
Stamford Innovation Places
In 2019, NP was commissioned to do an in-depth analysis of Stamford’s innovation economy, and provide a plan to set the strategic agenda for the Innovate Stamford initiative. NP took a non traditional, company product-based approach to identifying the innovation sectors of the Stamford economy. Building on NP’s analysis, Stamford Next has become a leading example of how to support a technological ecosystem, develop young talent and generate deal flow for its economy. Since the plans launch several key initiatives have been launched. These include Stamford Data Science Initiative and the GE CoCreate Microfactory.
NP continues to stay busy in 2021, working with partners and cities on how they can shape economic growth now and into the future. Here are few quick updates on current projects as well as progress in a city where NP has supported several interrelated economic initiatives:
Future of Manufacturing in Milwaukee
NP is providing the industrial sector analysis for a study of industrial land commissioned by the City of Milwaukee. The City is looking to understand its current industrial land use capacity and how it might need to change in order to support greater job creation and more equitable development. NP is helping the City answer these questions by providing an in-depth examination of current uses, a look towards future trends and needs, and recommendations on what kinds of policies will help the City make the most of its land.
Guiding Downtown Development in Harrisonburg, VA
The City of Harrisonburg and the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance recently launched Harrisonburg Downtown 2040, an effort aimed at guiding future growth in the city's downtown. Harrisonburg sits in the center of the historic Shenandoah Valley and is the home of James Madison University. Over the last 20 years downtown Harrisonburg has seen significant redevelopment but now the downtown faces important questions regarding the next wave of development, parking considerations, quality public space for a burgeoning downtown, and the future of its storefronts. NP is part of the Interface Studio team providing market and development strategy assistance.
More Lab Space Developed on Downtown Crossing in New Haven
Cancer biotech Arvinas Inc. announced that it will lease 160,000 square feet in the newly developed 101 College St. - a 10 story, 500, 000 square foot bioscience building in New Haven, CT. The new lab space is located in Downtown Crossing - the ongoing Route 34 Highway Reclamation project. NP has partnered with City of New Haven and Yale University on several initiatives related to life sciences and innovation in the city. NP also provided transaction support to the city during the due diligence and review phase of the 101 College St project.
The City of Richardson has taken a major step towards positioning itself as the premier tech hub in Texas. The City and the University of Texas at Dallas are partnering to create The IQ®@ 1302, a new space that will support Richardson’s start-up community and advance innovative UT research.
The effort was born from a 2018 visioning study led by Interface Studio in partnership with Ninigret Partners and Big Red Dog. The study examined how the City could re-imagine a 1,200 acre district known as the Telecom Corridor, once the epicenter of the telecom broadband revolution and now rebranded and positioned as the City’s Innovation District. Richardson has taken several actions to realize this vision and the partnership with UT-Dallas, one of the fastest growing universities in the nation, will accelerate the work.
Highlighting the potential to accelerate new tech based innovations, the visioning study called for more shared innovation space as well as stronger partnerships between the City and the University; both of which will be achieved through this new endeavor.
The 27,500 square foot space will accommodate a mix of complementary uses:
Construction on the space is set to begin this summer and a projected opening of February 2022.
Despite the challenges of 2020 many of NP’s partner communities have moved ahead with planning and implementation on a number of fronts:
Montgomery, AL Wins Best Comprehensive Plan
The City of Montgomery completed its first Comprehensive Plan in over fifty years and the City's effort is being celebrated. The Alabama Chapter of the National Planning Association recognized the City of Montgomery with the award for Best Comprehensive Plan in communities over 50,000 in population at its recent annual planning conference. The City Council unanimously adopted its new plan in July 2020.
NP provided the economic development and housing analysis as well as the recommendations related to continued economic development and neighborhood regeneration. NP has been continuing to support the implementation of the plan working with the Montgomery Chamber on building out the needed economic ecosystem as well as setting priorities.
Richardson, TX Continues to Reinvent Its Telecom Corridor
The reboot of the Telecom Corridor continues in Richardson. In 2019 NP worked with Interface Studio to develop a strategy to regenerate the Telecom Corridor through its transformation into a TOD centered innovation district. Among the actions identified was having a point person to oversee the activity and partnerships, developing a partnership with the University of Texas Dallas (UTD) research engine, placemaking initiatives, new zoning to promote revamping of buildings, and community building activities.
Since the report the area has been rebranded as the Richardson Innovation Quarter, staff has been committed to oversee implementation, new zoning was passed, a community building platform IQBrew has been launched and the city and UTD have entered into a strategic partnership to bring UTD entrepreneurs to the IQ.
University of Georgia Uses Innovation District to Connect to Downtown
The University of Georgia’s Innovation District continues to make progress since the innovation district study conducted by NP in 2017. Over the course of the study, NP had worked with the city and the UGA to identify potential opportunities, locations and areas of focus and what it meant for building typologies. NP recommended against a stand alone suburban style research park that had been part of a prior university assessment, and instead recommended using an innovation district to stitch together the campus and downtown Athens. Beginning in 2018 UGA launched its innovation initiative and today it is a full-fledged effort that blends the innovation facilities with the downtown.
Pop Up Restaurant Proving the Potential For Change in Brockton, MA
The Boston Globe recently featured Brockton, MA's Prova pop up beer garden and restaurant in its On The Street series. Prova opened in 2018 after a successful crowdfunding campaign and has been the proving ground for start-ups like the Brockton Brewing Company. The pop up’s success has catalyzed the City to take other actions supportive to new food enterprises including improving ordinances and creating a $1.5 million restaurant development fund.
In 2017, NP worked with the City of Brockton and MassDevelopment to evaluate the feasibility of a restaurant incubator. NP's research suggested that it was critical to "prove" the market for downtown restaurant activity and a temporary, pop up model made more sense before committing the capital required to for the full build out of restaurant incubator. The report also noted that there needed to be a comprehensive approach to restaurant development that included access to capital, support for tenant improvements, a marketing campaign, and targeted place-making efforts.
Building Design & Constructions Weekly Show featured NP's Kevin Hively in its latest episode, which focused on post pandemic retail planning. Drawing on NP and Interface Studio's recent Restart Reset Retool Refill Report (link) Hively emphasizes the importance of serving the diverse millennial population living in cities as an opportunity for growth.
New Geography, a site dedicated to leading edge thinking and analysis about place, featured Restart Rest Retool Refill in July. The report, produced by NP and Interface Studios, focuses on what cities and towns can do to manage their downtowns and main streets during the time of COVID 19.
Increasingly, it's clear that communities are going to be wrestling with the economic uncertainty of COVID for awhile; Restart Reset Retool Refill offers decision makers a framework to use as they adapt and respond to the challenges ahead. It addresses short term stabilization needs as well as structural issues that will need to be addressed for cities and towns to become more resilient and equitable for the long term.
Like many professional conferences this year, the American Planning Association went online with NPC20@Home. As part of the proceedings NP's Kevin Hively co-presented on Contextualizing Big Data. The presentation drew approximately 1,800 attendees to the live Zoom session and it is now available through APA Learn. It was the largest draw of any of the online sessions offered.
Why does contextualizing big data matter so much to so many planners? Because while there is a huge number of large datasets available at our fingertips it can be hard to interpret that information in a particular community context. The presentation focused on ways to use local data sources and primary research in order to ground truth and add depth to big data analyses.
Hively presented along with Mindy Watts from Interface Studio LLC, Kira Strong from the City of Philadelphia, and Bridget Marquis from U3 Advisors.
The next several months will shape our downtowns, main streets and commercial corridors for years to come. Restart Reset Retool Refill provides a thought process and checklist to begin taking action to manage the change that is taking place thanks to COVID.
The American Planning Association’s Sustainable Communities Division recently awarded its Best Community Plan to the City of Pittsburgh for its EcoInnovation District Plan. The awards, granted annually, showcase the leaders in sustainability across the United States.
Pittsburgh’s Innovation District is first of its kind; it mixes the concept of an Ecodistrict with the concepts of an Innovation District. In addition, developing equitable economic opportunity for existing residents was an important component of the plan. After an 18-month planning process the Pittsburgh City Council adopted the District Plan in September of 2017. The City has adopted the zoning changes recommended in the plan including an innovation performance based model that takes into consideration social equity and environmental considerations. In addition, a district energy concept is moving forward.
NP performed the economic, real estate market, and innovation analyses for the plan as well as helped shape the redevelopment strategy. NP was also heavily involved in examining new funding models such as TRID, green bonds and carbon offsets as mechanisms to help pay for the civic improvements.