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Resilient NOLA receives a National Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice

HR&A Advisors is a proud partner of Resilient NOLA, this year’s recipient of the American Planning Association’s National Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice.




Resilient NOLA, the groundbreaking resilience strategy for the City of New Orleans, released in August 2015, is this year’s recipient of the APA National Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice. The strategic actions in this plan, developed with HR&A’s support as part of 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, will shape the future of New Orleans by defining an implementation-driven, holistic approach to advancing the city’s physical, economic, and social resilience. This approach, which incorporated the input of over 350 stakeholders including historically underserved residents, looks beyond traditional recovery and physical resilience interventions to create a transformative vision for inclusion, connectivity, and economic vitality.


The team developed the strategy’s 41 project-specific initiatives through an integrative process that considered the critical needs of environmental preparedness, infrastructure and systems modernization, and equitable access to opportunity. These actionable initiatives include increased coastal protections, urban water management strategies, and infrastructure systems redundancy to protect the city’s physical assets, as well as affordable housing policies, workforce development programs, and improved transit connectivity to foster empowered, equitable communities and economic growth for multiple generations of New Orleanians.


HR&A is a proud partner in this work, and will continue supporting the City of New Orleans through the implementation of its resilience initiatives, including the Gentilly Resilience District, which was recently awarded $141 million from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the National Disaster Resilience Competition.

HR&A President Eric Rothman Named Board Chair of the Design Trust for Public Space

Board Chair


The Design Trust for Public Space is a nationally recognized non-profit catalyst that engages planners, government agencies, and community stakeholders on projects to improve New York City’s landscape. These projects have ranged from incubating the High Line Park to re-imagining Times Square, as well as it’s most recent Under the Elevated project, to make spaces underneath highway and transit infrastructure more inviting for New Yorkers.


“I’m proud to lead the Design Trust Board and to continue Andrea Woodner’s legacy. Andrea and her creation of the Design Trust catalyzed new thinking about public space, dramatically transforming the lifeblood of our city—its public buildings, streets, plazas, parks and infrastructure. The Design Trust’s work has raised people’s expectations for a higher quality of life; changed how city agencies operate; and resulted in new laws and regulations for a lasting, positive impact for the lives of New Yorkers.”

– Eric Rothman


Eric first joined the Design Trust in 2006 as an Economic Policy Fellow to evaluate the economics of the New York City taxi industry and make policy recommendations for Taxi 07: Roads Forward, a re-imagined taxi system for the twenty-first century. Eric continued working with the Design Trust as a member of a jury and an advisor for Made in Midtown and Making Midtown, the organization’s enhanced vision for Manhattan’s Garment District. Eric joined the Design Trust Board in 2013 and served as co-chair of the DT Council and on the Executive and Finance committees. He succeeds the Design Trust’s co-founder and long-time board President Andrea Woodner. Andrea will continue to focus on fundraising for the Design Trust as Chair of the Founder’s Circle, while launching her new Hercules Art/ Studio program, which provides affordable studio space and community for emerging artists in Lower Manhattan.


Read this press release from the Design Trust to learn more about Eric Rothman’s appointment and the organization.

HR&A Supports The Rockefeller Foundation’s Resilience Capacity Building



In an era in which limited public funding for infrastructure and community development meets increasing risks due to climate change and other factors, HR&A is a key strategic advisor and technical assistance partner for local, state and federal governments as they create and implement innovative strategies and initiatives to enhance their resilience. As program manager for The Rockefeller Foundation’s Capacity Building Initiative in support of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), HR&A provided technical support as 67 cities, states, and counties that suffered presidentially-declared disasters between 2011 and 2013 prepared projects and programs to respond to a broad array of climate-related risks in an innovative manner that also addresses social, economic and environmental challenges.


The initiative included overwhelming participation in 10 “Resilience Academies” across the United States as well as other technical assistance efforts, which were supported by a network of over 150 federal agency representatives and 250 designers, engineers, scientists, professors, and other subject matter experts representing nearly 75 universities, professional firms, and non-profits. Officials including Director Shaun Donovan (OMB), Secretary Julian Castro (HUD), Judge Alice Hill (National Security Council), and John Podesta (White House) attended various convenings organized by HR&A to demonstrate their support of the initiative.


The Capacity Building Initiative generated robust outcomes toward The Rockefeller Foundation’s goals. The workshops successfully built capacity to create more resilient communities over the long term by teaching key resilience concepts, encouraging multi-agency collaboration and team-building, and connecting the applicants to subject matter experts and government agency representatives. The initiative broadened our national approach to creating resilient communities and provided support and tools to generate compelling, competitive NDRC proposals.


The Obama Administration will announce the winners of the NDRC in early 2016 from among 40 finalist jurisdictions, who submitted proposals ranging from adaptation of major infrastructure and creation of green and grey stormwater infrastructure, to housing and community development, to workforce development and social resilience programs.

HR&A and Sasaki Associates Selected to Advance the Pennsylvania Avenue Revitalization Initiative


The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) has commissioned HR&A Advisors and Sasaki Associates to develop economic and urban design framework strategies for the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor between the White House and the Capitol in Washington, DC. This work is a critical part of the Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative, launched in 2014 by NCPC, the General Services Administration, and the National Park Service. The goal of the Initiative is to develop a vision for how the Avenue can meet both local and national needs in a 21st century capital city.


While still home to many national landmarks, notable government and private sector office buildings, museums, theaters, and hotels, the Avenue is also in need of improvements to help it to meet the changing needs of Downtown Washington and the District overall. In recent years, Downtown Washington has gained a sizable residential population. A wave of new development in neighborhoods across the City has expanded opportunities for people to live, work, and play. Along the Avenue, the ongoing conversion of the Old Post Office to a hotel and the pending redevelopment of the Hoover Building following the relocation of the FBI make this a critical time to think about the future of the Avenue. The Master Plan has not been updated in more than 40 years, since the 1974 Pennsylvania Avenue Plan, which was implemented by the now-defunct Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation.


HR&A is leading development of the economic portion of the project, conducting a market analysis and developing strategies to stimulate reinvestment in the corridor, including in public open spaces. As part of this work, the Team is engaging stakeholders, exploring opportunities for improving the mix of uses, and providing high level estimates of costs, benefits, and potential funding sources for various strategies and urban design interventions.


For more information on the Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative, visit NCPC’s Pennsylvania Avenue Initiative website and a featured article on the selection of Sasaki and HR&A in the Washington Business Journal.

Health Districts | Key Lessons for Municipalities and Partner Health Care Organizations

National Resource Network LogoCrossposted from the National Resource Network
Todd Fawley-King, Caroline McCarthy, and Judith Taylor



The National Resource Network’s experience working with communities across the country and our research to produce our recent publication –Striking a (Local) Grand Bargain – shows that municipalities and their anchor institutions can substantially increase community stability, economic competitiveness, and health outcomes when they jointly establish a shared long-term community vision and coordinate policy and investments. For cities with large anchor medical institutions, successful health districts integrate medical facilities into mixed-use neighborhoods to support economic, social, and community health goals.


The City of Lancaster, CA approached the Network for assistance conducting preliminary planning for a new health and wellness district it would like to establish in partnership with the Antelope Valley Hospital. The Network provided in-depth case studies of other health districts in similar cities to help Lancaster understand the scope and key elements a health district should include, as well as the potential impacts. In addition, the Network drew on experience planning for healthy communities, including a health district plan for Meridian, MS, and implementation support for a healthy campus in Kansas City, KS. From this research, we have identified several key lessons that may be applicable to other cities considering similar districts.


Formal “initial thinking” in collaboration between a municipality and an existing health care institute is a common element of the successful health districts studied.


The health institutions that formed the nucleus of these successful health districts and the municipality often conducted preliminary planning or collaborative work to form and strengthen their partnerships, which then helped increase stakeholder interest in the investment and effort needed to form the district.


Health districts can coordinate development among individual institutions to efficiently maximize capital resources, share the burden of infrastructure improvements, and support ambitious projects.


Health districts may be especially useful in cities with multiple large medical anchor institutions that have similar investment and infrastructure needs. The dialogue inherent in the formation and maintenance of the health district plan can facilitate creative approaches to finance and encourage shared responsibility of infrastructure upgrades benefitting multiple stakeholders. This process may also encourage the formation of a political coalition necessary to champion ambitious projects and access diverse funding options such as state or federal grants.


There are several challenges that can hinder collaboration and realization of a successful health district.


Notably,partnerships between institutions with similar market aspirations can be tenuous, especially when the economy contracts. Establishment of a health district where the key members are competing institutions may be challenging; a health district with complimentary facilities may result in greater collaboration and success. In addition, changes in the leadership of the municipality can derail a project that is led primarily by the public sector, making it important to carefully consider what entity should lead the initiative.


The right leadership can ensure continued relevance of the plan and support for long-term objectives.


Most cities that pursue a health district must choose between a public-leadership of the initiative or assigning a separate non-profit entity to lead. Public-led health district initiatives require long term city commitment and consideration of how to maintain focus during leadership changes.  For some cities, a non-profit coordination organization may be best suited for the lead role because a specially-designated entity can focus and steward the resources necessary to coordinate institutional planning, effectively represent public and private interests, and access financing opportunities such as grants. Additionally, a designated non-profit coordination organization can add dedicated implementation capacity and help maintain focus on the objectives of the plan during leadership changes. However, in considering creating a non-profit coordinating entity, stakeholders must ensure the organization will have sufficient resources to support itself and its mission. Possible revenue sources may include philanthropic support or revenue from assets in the district the non-profit could manage.


Successful health districts are comprehensive and actively involve all nearby landowners.


Instead of focusing narrowly on the municipality and the medical institutions, successful health districts reach out to all landowners to create a comprehensive vision for the future of the community. This expansive view is necessary to secure widespread community support and better targets the full range of investment by all stakeholders in the district towards achieving the long-term goals and objectives.


Cities should actively pursue partnerships with potential new anchor institutions while preparing a master plan.


Attraction of new anchor medical institutions to a district is a clear sign of the success of a health district masterplan. Cities have a valuable opportunity during the preparation of the plan to incorporate attractive policies and incentives and thus should reach out to potential anchors during the preparation phase to understand what cost-effective incentives, infrastructure upgrades, or policies might induce new institutions to locate in the planned health district.


Health districts are powerful long-term strategies that require considerable investment of time to develop and maintain. Municipalities considering a health district should assess the resources and institutional capacity necessary to partner productively with a medical institution to make a health district a reality. To ensure success, cities that choose to pursue a health district should carefully consider how to apply the key lessons identified here, and also review the Network’s report on collaboration between municipalities and their anchor institutions.

District-Based Development Finance – Tools that Work

Header Image


On November 19th, HR&A Partner Paul Silvern will moderate a panel discussion on the powerful district-based financing tools and mechanisms being used to help communities concentrate development opportunities into targeted areas at the Council for Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) California Financing Roundtable Conference. Paul will be joined by a panel of banking, financial, and economic professionals who have utilized district-based financing tools including community facilities districts, assessment districts and infrastructure financing districts. The discussion will explore various approaches, rationales, and best practices when preparing for district-based financing.


For nearly 30 years, Paul has assisted public and private clients across California and other western states by creating real estate development and financing strategies that catalyze private investment to improve cities. He co-directed the creation of a citywide economic development strategy for the City of Los Angeles, co-directed the analysis and identification of potential new funding sources for the Portland Development Commission, and has been assisting the City of Concord to implement a major mixed-use reuse plan for the former Concord Naval Weapons Station. He also provides guidance to a wide range of public agencies on implementing strategies and programs to fund development of affordable housing. . His clients include private development organizations, institutions, local governments, and metropolitan planning organizations.


The CDFA is a national association dedicated to the advancement of development finance concerns and interests. CDFA is comprised of the nation’s leading members of the development finance community representing public, private and non-profit development entities. The conference is co-sponsored by CALED, California’s leading organization of economic development professionals.


HR&A is a proud sponsor of the conference and encourages colleagues and clients to register and gain valuable economic development finance insights. We look forward to seeing you on November 19th.

HR&A Partners Speak at Greenbuild in DC



HR&A is proud to participate in the annual Greenbuild International Conference in Washington DC in November 2015. Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference dedicated to green building and sustainability where thousands of industry leaders come together to exchange ideas. HR&A Vice Chairman Candace Damon and Senior Principal Jamie Torres Springer, will both participate in panel discussions at this year’s conference.


On November 18th, Vice Chairman Candace Damon will discuss implementation of green stormwater systems with Craig Holland, Director of Product Development at NatureVest, the impact investment unit of The Nature Conservancy, and Mikel Wilkins, Green Infrastructure Practice Leader at Verdunity. The panel, titled Implementing District Scale Recreational Stormwater Systems, will investigate the economic, logistical, institutional, and cultural frameworks of green infrastructure implementation. The panelists will discuss hurdles, which prevent widespread implementation and successful employment of innovative strategies. The speakers will draw on past HR&A work including economic assessments of a district stormwater system within the proposed Southwest EcoDistrict in Washington DC, proposed changes to the City of Detroit’s stormwater policies, and green infrastructure retrofits within Dallas’s park system.


On November 20th, Senior Principal Jamie Torres Springer will discuss Superstorm Sandy recovery with Kate Dineen, Deputy Executive Director at the New York State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR), and Danielle Arigoni, Acting Director, Office of Economic Resilience, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. The panel, titled From Recovery to Resiliency, will explore the various approaches undertaken in the Northeast following Superstorm Sandy to create enduring strategies and plans for resilience. Topics will include: initial steps to rebound post-storm; techniques for establishing a long-term focus on preparing for and protecting against impacts of climate change; development of responses spanning critical infrastructure areas and built environment typologies; provision of rebuilding and revitalization assistance; and collaboration with community members and local leaders. Case studies will draw upon various resilience efforts in the northeast, of which HR&A has been involved, starting with Jamie’s post as Deputy Director of City’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR), our work in ten communities in NYC for the State’s NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program, and significant participation on three teams of HUD’s RBD Competition.


HR&A is a proud supporter of the United Stated Green Building Council and we look forward to engaging with attendees at this year’s Conference. Please reach out to Jamie Torres Springer or Candace Damon if you plan on attending – we would love to connect.

Jamie Torres Springer Weighs in on the Future of Midtown West at the MAS Summit

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Jamie discusses considerations involved to achieve a new Penn Station with Vishaan Chakrabarti of Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), and Kate Ascher of BuroHappold. Image courtesy of MAS/Giles Ashford.


On Thursday, October 22, HR&A Senior Principal Jamie Torres Springer joined Kate Ascher, Partner at BuroHappold, and Vishaan Chakrabarti, Founder and CEO of the Partnership for Architecture and Urbanism, for a session at the two-day 2015 MAS Summit for New York City at the TimesCenter. Vishaan moderated the discussion, “Getting a New Penn and Gateway Build: Rails, Regs, and Resources,” with questions for Jamie and Kate about reimagining Midtown West—namely by rebuilding Penn Station and strengthening regional transit access. The speakers recognized the difficulty presented by the multiplicity of ownership rights and underscored the necessity of convening different political players to reach consensus on funding and placemaking and of representing competing stakeholder interests. The session addressed the potential benefits of an upgraded Penn Station area in relation to both the City’s brand and wider-reaching neighborhood- and district-level impacts, including expanded regional transit capacity.


With these benefits in mind, Jamie discussed the value capture made possible by higher rents and additional taxes accompanying from existing and new development stimulated by district infrastructure improvements. He deemed Midtown West, which currently underperforms relative to other Manhattan districts, a neighborhood with room for significant economic growth. Jamie referenced ongoing transit-oriented redevelopment in the U.S. and Canada to demonstrate the centrality of government as a funding source, comprising more than half of capital funds in most cases. The session, available for viewing courtesy of MAS, reflected one of the Summit’s priority discussion topics: grappling with possibilities for the future of Midtown West.

Four HR&A Projects Awarded by the American Society of Landscape Architects

ASLA awards


We’re delighted to announce the American Society of Landscape Architects’ (ASLA) selection of four HR&A projects for national and local awards in the last year. On the national level, ASLA recognized the Penn’s Landing Redevelopment Feasibility Study with an Award of Excellence in Analysis and Planning and the Lawn on D with an Honor Award in General Design. HR&A was also recognized by the Arizona Chapter of ASLA for the design concept of Mesa City Center and the Master Plan of Hance Park in Phoenix. These projects reflect the firm’s steadfast commitment to the continued development of the American city.


HR&A provided development advisory and market analysis for the Penn’s Landing Redevelopment Feasibility Study, this year’s recipient of the ASLA’s Award of Excellence in Analysis and Planning. The study explored the feasibility of constructing a signature park at Penn’s Landing on the Delaware Riverfront, anchoring new development at the water’s edge and strengthening links with adjacent Center City neighborhoods. Working with a multidisciplinary team led by Hargreaves Associates, HR&A evaluated the market potential of the 45-acre site; recommended a flexible, preferred development scenario to create the park as well as almost 2 million square feet of mixed-use, waterfront development. HR&A also supported creation of a phasing plan to leverage near term development opportunities and infrastructure improvements that would catalyze further private development. HR&A’s work built off of work supporting a master plan for seven miles of the Delaware River waterfront, which identified Penn’s Landing redevelopment as an essential first phase.


©Christian Phillips Photography

©Christian Phillips Photography

The Lawn On D, a highly programmed outdoor space and event venue located in Boston’s burgeoning Innovation District, was recognized with this year’s Honor Award in General Design. Since its 2014 debut, the 2.7-acre open space has generated excitement throughout Boston as a surprising and delightful hub of activity that provides free, public programming for children and adults. HR&A, with the support of Chris Wangro, managed the programming and implementation of this significant placemaking project, which is helping to brand a new neighborhood around D Street next to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Working with the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA), HR&A established a distinct vision to achieve a sense of place that is defined by flexible programming, interactive environments, and compelling design. Serving as a business planning advisor and program manager to the MCCA through the conclusion of its 2015 season earlier this month, HR&A oversaw the execution of a calendar packed with festivals, concerts, movie screenings, interactive art installations, and more.

Image courtesy of West 8 + Colwell Shelor + Weddle Gilmore

Image courtesy of West 8 + Colwell Shelor + Weddle Gilmore

As part of an interdisciplinary team led by West 8, Colwell Shelor, and Weddle Gilmore HR&A was selected to transform the Mesa City Center, 18-acres surrounding Mesa City Hall, into a unique civic space that will enhance Mesa’s downtown and catalyze real estate development. The resulting design received an Honor Award in Analysis and Planning from the Arizona Chapter of ASLA. HR&A worked with the design team, the City, and key stakeholders to identify preliminary economic development opportunities and investment priorities, and is now developing a refined capital funding and phasing plan, an O&M funding and management strategy and an economic impact narrative.


Courtesy of !melk

Courtesy of !melk

As part of an interdisciplinary team lead by Weddle Gilmore and !melk, HR&A was engaged by the City of Phoenix to develop a business plan for the revitalization of Hance Park, an underutilized 32-acre park at the heart of Phoenix’s downtown art and culture institutions. The team’s design was recognized with an Honor Award in Analysis & Planning by the Arizona Chapter of ASLA. Over a period of 8-months the Master Plan Team organized a 3 tiered analysis and planning process, encompassing a deep analysis and investigation that revealed undiscovered history, examined connectivity and circulation patterns, and studied adjacent economic development potential. The team incorporated the core values of economic growth, sustainability, programming, and identity to create a sustainable vision for a vibrant and connected downtown signature park. HR&A developed an approach to capital funding, operations and maintenance funding, governance, and phasing for the revitalized park. HR&A is currently assisting the design team in developing a refined capital and O&M funding strategy for the first phase of park development.


HR&A is committed to increasing the vibrancy and vitality of urban life, and continues design creative, successful development strategies for our public and private clients. We’d like to extend our sincere congratulations and thanks to everyone involved in these projects.