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Bowser Administration Releases Plan for More Housing in Rock Creek West

 

This press release was originally issued by the DC Office of Planning

 

Wisconsin Avenue Development Framework is the Latest Proposal to Create More Opportunities in Thriving Neighborhoods

 

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC Office of Planning (OP) released the Wisconsin Avenue Development Framework to advance the District’s housing goals in neighborhoods west of Rock Creek Park.

 

“The Wisconsin Avenue Development Framework brings a vision of equitable development and opportunities for all residents,” said Office of Planning Director Anita Cozart. “The recommendations will enable more DC residents access to the schools, jobs, transit, and other amenities this part of the city has to offer.”

 

The Wisconsin Avenue Development Framework lays the groundwork for up to 9,500 new homes, including up to 1,700 dedicated affordable in Friendship Heights and Tenleytown. Recommendations rooted in urban design promote well-designed blocks that serve residents of all ages and abilities with active public spaces anchored by retail, restaurants, and cultural and entertainment uses.

 

The Rock Creek West Roadmap, released in 2021, outlined District programs and policies to address the shortage of affordable housing in this area of the city—working toward Mayor Bowser’s goal of 1,990 additional affordable housing units in Rock Creek West. The Rock Creek West Roadmap includes a combination of key District tools and programs, including Comprehensive Plan land use guidance; neighborhood-based plans; housing tools, such as inclusionary zoning; and targeted investments, such as the Housing Production Trust Fund.

 

The Wisconsin Avenue Development Framework concludes a trio of planning work for Rock Creek West led by the Office of Planning. OP completed the Chevy Chase Small Area Plan in 2022 and the Connecticut Avenue Design Guidelines in 2023. Together, these three plans allow for approximately 10,000 new housing units, of which over 2,000 could be dedicated affordable housing. Over 80% of this new housing capacity is within walking distance of a Metrorail station and adjoining commercial corridors.

 

Recommendations for the Wisconsin Avenue Development Framework were developed through extensive community engagement and coordination with Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, civic associations, Main Street organizations, and other stakeholders. OP also synchronized efforts with concurrent planning efforts led by the District Department of Transportation, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and Montgomery County, Maryland.

 

Following the Wisconsin Avenue Development Framework’s release, OP will use the guidance in the Development Framework to inform zoning changes for this part of Wisconsin Avenue NW.

 

Read the Wisconsin Avenue Development Framework on the Office of Planning website.

First Dedicated Fund to Invest in Public Options to Address Consolidated Corporate Power, Counter Acute Affordability Challenges

 

This press release was originally issued by Economic Security Project.

 

Washington D.C. – Today, Economic Security Project (ESP) launched the Public Options for America Fund to build robust and competitive public options for sectors including housing, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, childcare, and energy, investing in the most promising and innovative public options models and leaders of today. The fund invests in public options that can coexist with private options, with the desired outcome of creating greater economic choice and resilience for individuals and families. By creating more competition in a consolidated market, we can leverage public options as a tool to make markets work for people, instead of a handful of corporations.

 

The launch of the fund comes at a moment of historic public investment- including the Biden Administration’s infusion of nearly $4 trillion through the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS Act, and others. There is momentum to experiment with new models of governance through public options, with states like New York and California leading the way on innovations in public solar and AI respectively.

 

“As people feel the squeeze of skyrocketing housing costs, rising healthcare costs, and having to choose between care for their children or their aging parents, public options can be a lifeline,” said Harish I. Patel, Vice President of Build the Field at Economic Security Project. “Public options empower both communities currently confronting an affordability crisis as well as local governments that are looking for ways to rise up to tackle the full suite of emerging threats and crises from climate change to artificial intelligence.”

 

“For decades, economic and political power has shifted from the hands of people and communities to a handful of corporations. This has led directly to a shortage of basic necessities – as we have seen in childcare – and an explosion in costs – as we have seen in healthcare,”  said Becky Chao, Director of Antimonopoly at Economic Security Project. “Public Options for America Fund is an investment in a future where communities can access core goods and services locally, where small businesses and main streets can thrive again, and where we rebuild trust in the government to prioritize the well-being and prosperity of all of us.”

 

“Public options provide critical tools for combatting inequality and strengthening our democracy by bringing communities back into the democratic process, building robust public power, and baking in equity at the root of these endeavors, thereby ensuring that communities of color are able to thrive alongside their fellow Americans,” said Javier Valdés, Director, Civic Engagement and Government at Ford Foundation. “We are proud to invest in Economic Security Project and partner with them to build a vision for a strong and resilient economy that works for all.”

 

“Our broken systems have diminished economic opportunities for Americans all across this country for the last 40 years,” said Zeeba Khalili, Vice President of Grantmaking & External Affairs, Marguerite Casey Foundation. “As we continue to struggle with shortages in necessities like childcare, and see rising costs from pharmaceutical companies and energy providers, public options help consumers take back power, create healthy competition in our business sector, and revitalize our communities.”

 

Public Options for America Fund

Public Options for America Fund Grantees
[Energy] California Public Banking AllianceCitizens Power Board of OhioClimate & Community ProjectMaine People’s Resource CenterCoalition for Green Capital, [Childcare] Roosevelt Institute/Community Change, [Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals], T1 InternationalYale Law SchoolBe A Hero, [Housing] KC Tenants

Public Options Fund Partners
[Energy] NY Public Solar SupportCenter for Public Enterprise [Food] Economic Security Illinois – Support for Chicago Grocery Store in partnership with HR&A as well as the Venice Mayor Tyrone Echols, and Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson [AI] Vanderbilt Policy AcceleratorEconomic Security California – Support for CalCompute

Public Options Community of Practice

Building Tomorrow Together: Insights from HR&A Leaders on Engaging Communities and Developing for Inclusivity in Today’s Urban Landscape

 

We sat down with Senior Advisors Derek Fleming and Marilynn Davis to highlight the industry’s evolution towards genuine inclusion. They discuss the role of public-private partnerships in fostering equity and maximizing public engagement, especially in addressing the needs of Black communities.

 

There’s a growing recognition among companies regarding the importance of community engagement, especially in underrepresented areas. How do you feel the industry has evolved and are there any noticeable trends towards genuine inclusion?

 

Marilynn: Community engagement is ingrained in a vast majority of the urban projects we’ve been seeing. It is especially evident in requests from city governments, neighborhood associations, and educational institutions, like urban-based universities. This evolution underscores a fundamental shift in how institutions view their relationship with the communities they serve or are embedded within. At HR&A, we view cities not merely as geographical locations but as dynamic ecosystems, where interactions among diverse components drive growth and vitality.

 

 

When elements within these ecosystems falter, whether due to shifting dynamics or unhealthy components, the entire system is jeopardized. So, it’s imperative to prioritize community input and address concerns raised by the communities these organizations touch. By incorporating community feedback into projects, organizations can proactively adapt and ensure that developments align with the evolving needs and aspirations of the communities they impact.

 

Derek: Historically communities of color have been fighting for their voice and enfranchisement, around issues of community policing, educational equity and investment, housing, neighborhood resources and public infrastructure. I remember my dad speaking to me about how during his young adulthood the Black Panthers, SNCC and, NAACP were core national organizations that fought for the upliftment of voices and community engagement, where black and brown communities could be included in the evolution of their neighborhoods.

 

We still see this tension and gap in community inclusion today. The health, food, and justice disparities glaringly spotlighted during the COVID era, proved to us once again the need for real input, feedback, understanding and agency in the community development process. There needs to be a holistic approach within the development process, where cities, philanthropic organizations, developers, and community development entities collaborate to establish a consensus on the future trajectory of neighborhoods, ensuring benefits for all stakeholders, particularly the folks who live there and our most impacted.

 

Achieving a comprehensive and inclusive development strategy requires input from all segments of the community. Therefore, community engagement becomes intrinsic to the process. I see it as central to my practice and it’s exciting to know its core tenant of our firm’s mission as we seek equitable development in our engagements.

 

Do you feel that having that inclusive process leads to better long-standing results?

 

Derek: I believe we should always seek sustainability in our projects. A holistic, community-centered engagement process heightens the probability of sustainability and depth.   Reflecting on HR&A’s longstanding presence, projects like the Atlanta Beltline exemplify our integral role in introducing impactful open spaces to cities. These endeavors not only showcase creative governance structures and innovative financing methods but also prioritize delivering amenities that communities can proudly benefit from for generations. Our current projects echo this ethos, laying the groundwork for enduring structures that champion inclusivity and restoration.

 

In many instances, our work involves rectifying past disparities in economic empowerment and investment, particularly in black and brown communities. This process embodies a commitment to replenishment, restoration, and respect for Culture, paving the way for sustainable development that transcends surface-level solutions, and looks for authentic ways to include the community in the economics, the equity conversation at hand. I’m inspired knowing that at HR&A, we take pride in our firm’s dedication to projects that transcend fleeting trends, aren’t Band-Aids. It’s refreshing to be part of a team that embraces the challenge of creating lasting change through thoughtful and sustainable urban development practices.

 

 

Marilynn: Our work in the knowledge economy sector assist, higher education institutions, and research centers in harnessing their intellectual assets to shape an environment that aligns with their objectives. I was involved in a project where a university hospital was situated in close proximity to a large research institution and public housing. Located in an area ripe for redevelopment, adjacent to underused sites, and near the heart of a city, the project posed multifaceted challenges and opportunities.

 

Too often disproportionate focus is on research labs and research itself, rather than on a broader set of elements that facilitate it, such as housing, amenities, and community development. A successful innovation hub is not solely for researchers or doctors exclusively; it includes everyone integral to the institution’s functionality. This includes lab technicians and even individuals responsible for maintaining cleanliness, and we saw this in during COVID19 pandemic with essential workers. By prioritizing inclusivity and community engagement,

 

How do both of you envision the role of public private partnerships evolving to address the needs of black communities in the context of urban development and revitalization efforts?

 

Derek: Along my real estate journey, I’ve come to appreciate the substantial opportunity and pivotal structure that the public private model represents, particularly when addressing issues of historic disenfranchisement, displacement, lack of intentional, additive investment. Public private approaches along with authentic engagement can go a long way in assuring equitable outcomes. Reflecting on projects like Sweet Auburn in Atlanta underscores the transformative potential when historic communities receive the attention they deserve. Once a vibrant example of black excellence and the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., thriving entertainment venues, the nation’s premier black-owned insurance company, the community’s prosperity ended with the onset of desegregation and the forced intrusion of a highway erected into the core of the neighborhood.

Our SAGE project brought us in collaboration with local non-profit organizations tasked with revitalizing this historic district. We established a great partnership.  By aligning the interests of public interest groups with those of private developers, we ensure that the community’s voice remains central to the redevelopment process. Our work establishing a governance structure for these organizations to make meaningful decisions alongside private partners fosters a collaborative environment conducive to positive outcomes.

 

 

 

As a result of the work, the neighborhood is empowered to make decisions alongside private developers who want public interest groups  to build, and enter the community. They are structured now to operate with capacity, understanding and empowerment alongside the private sector. This synergy between the public and private sectors holds immense promise for creating inclusive and sustainable communities, where a full range of voices are heard and opportunity is shared.

 

Marilyn: I similarly believe that the scale of challenges cities face will solidify the importance of public-private partnerships (PPPs) . The public sector can leverage its ability to establish a framework that incentivizes private developers and capital to contribute to projects of high value to the community. Cities would benefit from a reward structure that enable the public sector step in and take risks in a way that is difficult for the public sector to do.  For instance, establishing entitlement structures, zoning regulations and infrastructure frameworks within a district can advance a shared vision. Additionally, mechanisms such as tax credits and grants can play a pivotal role in stabilizing the financial viability of projects. This is especially pertinent in the current climate, where housing affordability remains a pressing concern nationwide. The framework established by the public sector to facilitate developers’ inclusion of these elements in their projects is important when addressing such challenges effectively.

 

Where do you see the industry going currently and what are some new opportunities that you’re excited for?

 

Marilynn: The industry is currently witnessing a profound shift towards large-scale transformative projects that have the potential to revolutionize entire city districts, promising exciting opportunities for urban revitalization. At HR&A, we are deeply involved in endeavors aimed at rectifying historical urban injustices, including  those stemming from the misguided urban renewal policies of the past century. As we embrace the burgeoning knowledge economy and strive to harness intellectual assets, cities and nations are increasingly focused on leveraging these assets to shape their built environments.

 

Derek: What drives me is the evolving understanding and agency within communities, sparked by the wake of COVID-19 and the nationwide reckoning with racial justice. This heightened awareness has fostered an environment of openness and progressiveness, allowing a fertile ground for innovation and creative problem-solving.

 

As professionals, we now have the opportunity to explore unconventional tools and models, while remaining rooted in tried-and-true approaches. It’s about leveraging public resources, city land, and collaborating across sectors – from the private to the philanthropy- to address complex societal challenges with fresh perspectives. What excites me most is the freedom to approach these issues with creativity, intentionality, and community engagement.

 

From reimagining food systems to tackling climate change and fostering business ownership opportunities within communities, and building spaces that celebrate the inherent culture, bold conversations are taking place. There’s a shift towards inclusivity and empowerment, particularly for marginalized and historically overlooked communities. It’s about harnessing the rich cultural capital inherent in these communities and transforming it into tangible economic opportunities for those who own it. I’m motivated and excited to continue to push the envelope towards really creative ways of resolving these issues, particularly for communities that have been locked out, marginalized, ill equipped, underinvested and ignored, but have a ton of culture that is actually driving the economies of some of the cities that we’re discussing. The culture of these communities is really a driving force. And so how do we then make sure that that content and that character, that cultural capital becomes an economic opportunity for the people who own it?

 

 

Marilynn: We are at a pivotal juncture where traditional development is undergoing a significant shift. Previously, the development process primarily unfolded within the confines of boardrooms, with input limited from developers, architects, engineers, the client and some city officials. However, this antiquated approach is no longer sufficient. Today, we recognize the need to consider the broader ecosystem and the multifaceted impacts of our projects on the surrounding community. This shift necessitates embracing a more holistic perspective, as highlighted by Derek. The evolving landscape of development presents exciting opportunities for innovation and collaboration, ushering in a new era where considerations extend beyond the immediate project scope to encompass the larger societal and environmental implications.

 

Regional Workplace Scenario Planning Study Explores Impact of Telework

 

This press release was originally issued by National Capital Planning Commission.

Regional Workplace Scenario Planning Study Explores Impact of Telework

National Capital Planning Commission and Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Release Study

 

Washington, DC—Teleworking accelerated during the pandemic, altering where people work and commute. While this trend is playing out across the country, the National Capital Region has a unique set of challenges, as its largest single employer is the federal government. The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), a federal agency, and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), an association of local governments, joined together to develop a scenario-based study to better understand how this trend might impact the region and its individual jurisdictions.

 

NCPC and COG released findings from the Workplace Scenario Planning Study, prepared by the consultant team consisting of The Schreifer Group, HR&A Advisors Inc., and Wells + Associates. Scenario planning was used to better understand the cumulative impacts of federal telework and hybrid workplaces on the National Capital Region. Scenarios also provide a tool that federal agencies and regional jurisdictions can use to better understand the implications of telework policies. The report does not provide policy recommendations but will inform NCPC’s updates to policies in the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital’s Federal Elements and COG’s regional planning efforts. NCPC uses the Comprehensive Plan’s Federal Elements for its review of plans, proposals, and policies for federal land and building development.

 

 

The study considered three baseline scenarios (minimum telework, 1-2 days per two weeks; moderate telework, 4-6 days per two weeks; and maximum telework, 8-10 days per two weeks) and analyzed each scenario’s impact on the region’s federal real estate, federal workforce demographics, where federal workers live, and public transportation and commuting patterns.

 

 

Key findings from the Workplace Scenario Planning Study include:

    • Accelerating Reduce the Footprint: Telework will likely accelerate reduction of the federal government’s real estate inventory by enabling actions to consolidate, co-locate, and dispose of property. However, the type of facility use (and whether the use can be conducted in person or not) determines how this will affect each agency, individual jurisdictions (primarily at the county level), and the region. For example, national security and defense, and research and laboratory uses are more likely to require an in-person workforce.
    • Retaining and Attracting Talent: In an age where flexibility is highly valued, the ability to telework is a key factor in retaining and attracting talented workers.
    • Modifying Transportation and Commuting Patterns: Increased telework provides flexibility for where federal workers reside and alters commuting habits. This shift encourages more non-work-related travel and can lead to a decrease in daily Metro ridership, potentially impacting the region’s transportation infrastructure and service.
    • Changing Sustainability Implications: The net sustainability impact of telework remains unclear. While building energy use may decrease, at-home energy costs and non-work-related trips may increase.
    • Varying County Implications: Each county’s unique blend of agencies, facility mission and use, and potential lease expirations will play a role in how jurisdictions may be impacted.

     

  • Telework Implications by National Capital Region Jurisdiction

    The federal government is the single largest owner and occupant of real estate in the region. The General Services Administration’s National Capital Region portfolio consists of 474 total leases consisting of over 44 million rentable square feet, with 58 percent of the leases set to expire in the next five years. The report analyzed telework implications by county (and Washington, DC), considering the likelihood that federal leases expiring in the next five years would be reduced from the federal real estate inventory. The report analyzed the use of workspaces across three categories—administrative offices, research and labs, and national security and defense—to understand how likely they may be reduced. While each jurisdiction’s unique blend of agencies and lease expirations plays a role in how it might be impacted, the presence or absence of national security agencies emerges as a pivotal factor, as telework is less likely due to security requirements and the need for in-person training.

     

    The following summarizes telework implications on Washington, DC and Maryland/Virginia counties.

     

    Washington, DC holds almost half of all federal real estate leases in the region. While more than 200,000 federal workers are based in Washington, only 16% reside in the District of Columbia. Any changes in federal telework policy will have a significant impact on Washington, given that it has a large component of telework-eligible jobs.

     

    Prince George’s County, MD may face potential challenges with 46% of its federal office space leases nearing their termination, signaling moderate impact. While the absence of security/defense-related agencies could signify high exposure to office space reductions, the necessity of in-person presence in labs for various scientific activities can act as a crucial buffer against sharp reductions in the county’s occupied spaces, potentially reducing telework’s overall impact on office space occupancy.

     

    Montgomery County, MD has 15% of federal leases nearing their expiration but benefits from the presence of several large federal employment hubs. The presence of entities like the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, known for their extensive lab spaces, makes this county less susceptible to shifts towards telework. The quantity of research and lab spaces, where scientists and researchers are required to work in person, might counterbalance telework’s potential impact, rendering it minimal to moderate.

     

    Fairfax County, VA will see 27% of its leased federal spaces expiring within the next five years. The imminent expiration of more than a quarter of its leases could be counteracted by the stability offered by national security and defense agencies, signaling moderate impact.

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    Arlington County, VA will see approximately 25% of its commercial federal leases approaching their expiration dates. However, Arlington is home to significant national security entities, signaling moderate impact. This robust presence of security/defense-related agencies may potentially serve as a mitigating factor against substantial declines in federal office occupancy rates.

     

    Alexandria, VA faces 94% of its federal office spaces nearing lease termination coupled with a lack of key security agencies. However, this high rate is most likely representing one agency, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, so impact could remain low.

     

    Loudoun County and Prince William County, VA, and Fairfax City, VA display lease expirations ranging from 0% to 15%. Their agency composition and lease dynamics indicate a potential low to moderate impact from telework.

     

    NCPC will develop policies in the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital’s Federal Workplace Element to address the top key issues identified in the study. COG will continue conversations among area jurisdictions to address these important regional impacts.

     

    The National Capital Planning Commission is the federal government’s central planning agency in Washington, DC and surrounding counties of Maryland and Virginia. The Commission provides overall guidance for federal land and buildings in the region. It also reviews the design of federal projects and memorials, oversees long-range planning for future development, and monitors capital investment by federal agencies.

     

    The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments is an independent, nonprofit association that brings area leaders together to address major regional issues in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia. COG’s membership is comprised of 300 elected officials from 24 local governments, the Maryland and Virginia state legislatures, and U.S. Congress.

A Conversation with Eric Rothman, HR&A Partner and Board Co-Chair

We sat down with one of HR&A’s most senior leaders to reflect on the progress he oversaw as HR&A’s CEO and what made him decide to shift his focus from HR&A’s corporate management back to the project work that inspired him to join the company almost 30 years ago.

 

While you’ve had a long history working in the transit and economic development sectors, much of your focus in recent years has been on managing HR&A as its third CEO. Can you share how the company evolved under your leadership and what led to your decision to transition into your current role as a Partner and Co-Chair of the Board?

 

For several years, HR&A Advisors has been in a time of exciting and meaningful transition. Over the last year, I have worked very closely with Candace Damon and Jeff Hébert, with our Board, and with Partners to plan and implement a transition that resulted in Jeff becoming HR&A’s fourth CEO.

 

Back in the early 2000’s, when we were a scrappy firm of 20 brilliant professionals in New York and L.A., I served as President and a near full-time Partner leading projects that included PlaNYC 2030, real estate advisory work for the Port Authority and NJ Transit, a re-use plan for the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in DC, and many more. As the firm grew, I focused an increasing amount of my time on the internal business. This included transitioning into an employee-owned company and me becoming HR&A’s third CEO in 2019. We also expanded our capabilities to help our clients tackle the pressing issues facing cities, resulting in the growth of our climate, urban tech, inclusive cities/equitable governance, infrastructure, housing, and broadband and digital equity practices.

 

HR&A today is truly a world-class firm that serves clients and communities around the globe with an outstanding impact across 550+ projects last year.  We have also walked the walk that I shared with Partners in early 2020 shortly after becoming CEO — which was that we need to change our culture to attract and retain diverse and talented employees who are more representative of the communities we serve. And while there is still work to be done, we’ve made steady progress over the last four years due to the tremendous work of our company leadership and staff. As we shared in our recent 2023 ADEI Progress Report, our company is 47% BIPOC, and we were named a 2023 New York Urban League Champion for Recruitment, Retention, and Belonging.

 

While serving first as HR&A’s President and then CEO has been the greatest privilege of my professional life, in recent years, I’ve had less time available to work on the opportunities that originally attracted me to HR&A as a Senior Analyst in 1997. I’m ready to shift my focus back to the work and spend most of my time as an HR&A Partner, which I truly believe is the most attractive career choice for American urbanists.

 

 

In this “full circle” moment where you’re reconnecting with the project work that initially drew you to HR&A, what key themes continue to motivate you about transportation and economic development?

 

I think way back to when I was studying public policy in college, and I remember learning about the ways in which transportation infrastructure can positively and negatively impact people’s lives. I wanted to explore alternative models to traditional approaches to development, which have caused great harm to communities across the country, and that really launched a core theme of the work I’ve done throughout my career — with New York’s MTA, as Head of Business Planning for Transport for London (TfL), and of course with clients at HR&A.

 

While we’re in a time where there’s great appetite to do this work in new ways that can start to right past wrongs, I also know from experience that transportation infrastructure development takes time. In the eighties and nineties, I was looking at the anticipated economic impact of new rail transit systems like Washington’s WMATA, Atlanta’s MARTA, and Portland’s TriMET. Now 30 years later, those cities’ investments are coming to fruition, and you can see how the location of stations and the urban design around them has had a direct effect on where housing, offices, and amenities are located.

 

One of the projects that I worked on when I was at the New York MTA in the early Aughts was a multiagency planning effort called Access to the Regions Core, and a project that came out of that effort is what’s now called Grand Central Madison, which connects the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central. Grand Central Madison opened in early 2023—almost 20 years after I worked on the first stages! So, I want to be engaged in the next generation of transit infrastructure development now, so I can see these projects come life over the next few decades.

 

What do you think are the most exciting things happening in transit-oriented development, sustainable mobility, and economic development?

 

The pandemic and hybrid work have fundamentally changed commuting patterns, and I think public transit agencies and the cities and regions that support them are really grappling with that. Transit agencies have always been a subsidized model, but they were able to rely on fare revenue from commuters. In the post-COVID environment, we’re still far from a place where everybody is working five days a week in central cities, and most transit agencies are seeing ridership levels hovering somewhere around 70 – 90% of where they were before COVID.

 

That means the funding structures for transit have been disrupted. With that disruption, a lot of the work that we do at HR&A around transit-oriented development is becoming a more important piece of the puzzle than ever before. We’re helping transit agencies identify their surplus properties and understand what community assets could be built there — whether it’s housing, offices, retail, or even flex industrial spaces. These developments might help generate revenue and attract more riders to fill in funding gaps.

 

I’ve worked with some clients to evaluate the business case for making public transit services a free essential service, like fire stations or public schools. The climate implications are important to consider with this analysis, since mass transit is more environmentally friendly than single passenger gasoline powered cars.

 

 

We’ve talked a lot about the public sector, but how are developers navigating transit-oriented development in the post-pandemic world?

 

Developers are always looking to reduce risk, and one of the biggest risks they face in transit-oriented development is the time it takes to get something built. It’s important to minimize the red tape that slow things down. Having worked with both sides of public-private partnerships, we understand how to streamline the process, which is in the best interest of all involved. For example, when we work with transit agencies, we help establish ground rules for what kinds of uses they’ll accept for their development plans so developers know what’s possible. It’s also important for transit agencies to partner with their local cities to resolve issues about allowable density and design requirements.

 

When it comes to transit-oriented development in the post-pandemic world, one theme that’s really dominating the conversation with my developer clients is the housing crisis. HR&A has helped to identify a whole series of affordable housing strategies and solutions that can work for cities and regions overall, and we incorporate that thinking into transit-oriented development.

 

When thinking about diving back into this work, what gets you up in the morning, and what keeps you up at night?

 

I think what gets me up in the morning is the same thing that keeps me up at night: Climate change.

 

As the effects of climate change continue to collide with the inequities in our cities that were exacerbated by the pandemic, sustainable transit infrastructure is a critical piece of the puzzle. I’ve lived in metropolitan areas my entire life, so this work is not just my professional passion — it’s personal. I want to do my part to build vibrant, economically thriving, and healthy cities that will shape and support the lives of my children, my community, and the planet. I draw inspiration from one of the teachings of my faith, “If not now, when?” – and more than ever “now” feels like a critical time to apply the knowledge I’ve gained over the course of my career to help make it happen.

 

Learn more about Eric Rothman here.

Empire State Development Releases Report Outlining 2023 Accomplishments of the Office Of Strategic Workforce Development

 

This press release was originally issued by Empire State Development.

Office has Awarded $35 Million to 52 Innovative Training Programs Across the State

Read Executive Summary Report Here

Read Progress Report Here 

 

Empire State Development (ESD) today released its annual progress report from its Office of Strategic Workforce Development which was unveiled by Governor Hochul in her 2022 State of the State address to reimagine New York State’s approach to strategic, collaborative and equitable workforce development. The report, which provides detailed information regarding the implementation of the Governor’s $350 million Workforce Development Initiative, includes an update on the Office’s $150 million workforce development grant programs and other major milestones for 2023.

 

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Our Office of Strategic Workforce Development has made smart and strategic investments that offers opportunity to New Yorkers for New York State’s high growth industries and will provide our workforce with the tools they need to succeed today, and for the future. We are also laying the important groundwork for standardized and quantifiable metrics to evaluate and track the impact these grants are making across industries, organizations and participants to guide future rounds of funding.”

 

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “Governor Hochul continues to deliver for all New Yorkers seeking the skills they need to thrive in our robust economy. The New York State Department of Labor is proud to partner with the Office of Strategic Workforce Development to continue to connect New Yorkers to exciting new careers they love.”

 

The Office of Strategic Workforce Development has made major progress in its first 16 months, including awarding four rounds of grants totaling over $35 million to launch and grow 52 innovative projects across the state. These grants will reach more than 12,000 trainees and partner with more than 400 employers across New York State. Importantly, the Office prioritized applicants that committed to scalable, wraparound service models that benefit historically marginalized groups. Every project funded by the Office of Strategic Workforce Development offers critical wraparound services such as childcare support, transportation vouchers and translation services, allowing programs to reach communities that would otherwise be unable to participate in training programs.

 

Additionally, the Office of Strategic Workforce Development developed a robust set of metrics to evaluate the impacts of its grantmaking, including job placement, wages before and after program participation, hiring barriers faced, and the support services utilized by trainees. All awardees are required to report standardized outcomes data throughout the grant period and beyond, including training completion and job placements rates, and will seek to track wage growth for participants, among other data. These metrics are allowing ESD to evaluate the impact of funded projects and adapt its grantmaking strategy in future rounds to meet the needs of job seekers and employers.

 

The Office of Strategic Workforce Development is investing in innovative programs that are working to diversify representation in high-opportunity industries, and grantees from the first four rounds are making meaningful progress. For example, Syracuse Build works to build a more inclusive workforce in the building trades, and the United Way of Long Island’s Power Up! Wind Solar and Renewables is doing the same for the clean energy workforce.

 

Additional information about The Office of Strategic Workforce Development’s progress, including active investments, are also available in the report.

 

ESD is also charged with reporting on the success of other workforce programs under the initial $350 million investment and subsequent $180 million across six with sister agencies. While some of the programs are still in planning phases, and too early to report outcomes, there are great successes with programs like with the Office of Mental Health (OMH) who has successfully added employment specialists to its Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) program to provide individualized employment support for people with serious mental illness and served over 460 people in the past year. The City University of New York (CUNY) also launched a successful internship program with 649 students, 201 business partners and 599 graduates. Many more programs are set to launch in 2024, including the Department of Labor’s Empire State Teacher Residency Program which has already announced $24.6 million in awards to support 980 teacher residents across the state.

 

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, “Thanks to significant investments from Governor Kathy Hochul, ESD and its Office of Strategic Workforce Development, and our partners in the state legislature, SUNY plays a pivotal role in economic and workforce development across New York State. Funding supports increased internship and apprenticeship offerings to thousands of students, allows our campuses and faculty members to build on degrees and credentials in high-demand careers, and expand pre-medical opportunities for SUNY EOP students. Our partnership helps to meet the needs of New York students and employers.”

 

State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “Thank you to Governor Hochul and Empire State Developments’ Office of Strategic Workforce Development for their leadership in providing the funding to bolster our state’s workforce in various industries, especially the health care industry which has experienced a shortage in recent years. Grant funding through this initiative is helping to recruit and train skilled health care workers that will assist in alleviating the burden on current staff and improve the health of our communities.”

 

Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri Neifeld said, “OPWDD is thrilled to support Governor Hochul’s ongoing commitment to making New York a Model Employer for people with disabilities and to advance this goal by helping more New Yorkers with developmental disabilities prepare to enter the workforce and to enjoy fulfilling careers. With this funding opportunity, OPWDD was able to award $13 million to support eight different projects targeting Career Specific Vocational Training throughout the state, as well as technical assistance to generate referrals for classes and new vocational experiences for people with developmental disabilities.”

 

Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “For people living with mental illness, suitable employment plays an extremely important role in the recovery process. In addition to providing a livelihood, employment also gives us a sense of achievement and purpose as well as opportunities to develop positive relationships. OMH is proud to have partnered with the Office of Strategic Workforce Development to provide employment opportunities to hundreds of additional New Yorkers living with mental illness.”

2023 HR&A Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (ADEI) Progress Report

In 2023, HR&A focused on accelerating our progress from past years and working to further embed ADEI into the fabric of our culture and processes. This work is never done, and it’s important to us to reflect on the past year and set strong intentions for the year ahead. In 2023, we made progress in the following areas:

 

We continue to attract diverse talent and are better positioned to serve the communities in which we operate. Of the 47 employees who joined HR&A in 2023, 61% identify as BIPOC and 74% as women. Overall, 47% of our entire staff identify as BIPOC, which is consistent with 2022 levels and up from 36% in 2020. Our recruiting team continues to incorporate ADEI principles in our recruitment process, helping support our company’s diversity.

 

We were honored to be named a 2023 New York Urban League Champion for Recruitment, Retention, and Belonging. We are grateful to Senior Analyst Ejiro Ojeni for nominating our organization for this prestigious award, and to our staff for championing internal efforts across the firm to ensure HR&A continues to be a place that is stronger because of our diversity.

 

We began providing dedicated ADEI training for staff in management roles. We understand that one of the most effective ways to move the needle on ADEI across our organization is by building capacity within our project manager cohort. Supporting them to apply an equity lens to every aspect of our work — including how we support, train, and mentor diverse staff; how we work with our clients and community partners; how we publicize our work externally; how we conduct performance evaluations, and much more — is critical to transforming our operations and culture as a firm. In May, project managers across roles and offices met for a two-day, in-person training tailored to HR&A.

 

We completed our first year of HR&A Advisors’ BIPOC Sponsorship Program, through which we paired 13 BIPOC staff with Partners and Senior Advisors for continued, intentional sponsorship. Participating sponsored employees met with their sponsors monthly, attended conferences and networking opportunities with their sponsors, and worked with their sponsors to promote their professional development and visibility within and outside of the firm.

 

Staff across the firm engaged in conversations about ADEI during our inaugural HR&A Summit in October. HR&A’s Anti-Racism Core Team hosted two sessions at HR&A’s inaugural Summit, attended by staff from across our six offices:

 

  1. Solidarity and Allyship at HR&A: This panel elevated how staff currently show up for their coworkers and communities in often unseen but impactful ways, including through mentorship, volunteering, recruiting, and procurement, then the team engaged participants in small-group, facilitated discussions about how everyone can use their positionality at the firm to practice acts of solidarity and allyship.
  2. Supercharging our Projects through Equity and Inclusion: This panel highlighted how staff center equity in both our client-facing work and internal operations. Panelists highlighted lessons learned across diverse topics and methodologies including homelessness, innovation districts, public health, and inclusive community engagement.

 

Our staff-led Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) continue to foster a culture of belonging. We have seven affinity groups including: Accessibility, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Foreign-Born, Latino/a Comunidad, Queer, and Women’s ERGs. Over 80% of our staff participate in ERGs, and they play an instrumental role in creating a community of belonging through virtual convenings, in-person events, and mentorship opportunities.

 

We look forward to continuing our journey in 2024. Click here to learn more about our commitment to ADEI, and here for past progress updates.

 

Celebrating a New Generation of Leadership at HR&A

 

 

HR&A is proud to announce the elevation of Aaron Abelson to Managing Partner of our Texas office, Connie Chung to Managing Partner of our Los Angeles office, and Alex Lebow as Managing Director. These talented new leaders will be supporting recently appointed CEO Jeff Hébert in these key markets and in the management and oversight of the company.  

 

“Connie, Aaron, and Alex represent the best of HR&A.” said Hébert, “They are some of the brightest interdisciplinary thinkers in our industry and have helped steward a new culture of leadership and management within the company. What inspires me most about them is their approach to deeply connecting with our clients and collaborators as well as our employees. All three are incredible mentors for our people and are also invested in the growth of our company particularly in key markets.   

 

 

Conversations with Connie Chung, Aaron Abelson, and Alex Lebow 

Learn more about our newly elevated leaders and how they plan to help shape HR&A’s next chapter in these interviews.   

 

 

A Conversation with Connie Chung, HR&A Los Angeles’ Managing Partner 

Connie shares insights from her career, California’s role as a national leader in problem-solving at the urban scale, and what’s in store for HR&A in the LA region and beyond. Read more… 

 

 

A Conversation with Aaron Abelson, HR&A Texas Managing Partner 

Aaron discusses his career at HR&A, the unique challenges facing cities and communities in Texas, and what makes the Lone Star State one of the most exciting places to work in the country. Read more… 

 

A Conversation with Alex Lebow, HR&A’s Managing Director 

Alex discusses the future of HR&A and how there’s no better time to be working in cities. Read more… 

 

 

 

Celebrating Promotions and Emerging Leaders 

 

Our leaders are only as good as the teams that support them, and we are excited to share promotions across the company. These emerging leaders reflect the diverse and passionate talent that sets HR&A apart. Our deep bench of analytical and creative talent will continue to help HR&A grow and expand our services to meet the challenges facing cities today and those yet to come.  

 

 

Alexander Meeks Alex supports the design and implementation of policies to promote inclusive economic development, decarbonization, and climate change adaptation in cities.

 

Christiana WhitcombChristiana advises public and private sector clients on strategies and policies to support healthy housing markets, promote fair access to housing and encourage the clean energy transition.

 

Sylvia Xiaomeng LiSylvia shapes transformative urban development, robust planning efforts, and regulatory innovations to advance housing and economic equity.

 

Sharon Carney joins HR&A DC  — Sharon Carney, Former Chief of Staff for the Washington DC Deputy Mayor for the Office of Planning and Economic Development joins HR&A as a Principal in our Washington DC office. Sharon brings deep experience spanning local government, research, and advocacy, and she specializes in developing strategies that blend data-backed approaches with real-world pragmatism to achieve concrete results. Read more about Sharon… 

 

 

 

 

 

Asha BazilAsha collaborates with public and private stakeholders to develop equitable, resilient, and future-ready infrastructure.

Ashley SoAshley draws on her multidisciplinary and international background to provide research and analytical work across a wide variety of urban projects at HR&A.

Jill Schmidt BengocheaJill helps to make communities more resilient through climate mitigation and equitable development projects.

Mark KubaczykMark manages projects that advance transformative visions, revitalize neighborhoods, implement public-private strategies, and improve how people connect to economic opportunity and mobility.

Nick HughesNick works with cities, developers, and institutions to create value for their communities through innovative development.

 

 

Anna GallicchioAnna specializes in housing affordability, building decarbonization, and economic development, working with city governments and non-profits to implement community-centered and data-driven solutions.

Ejiro OjeniEjiro leads analytical and research support for projects at the intersection of resilient infrastructure, community empowerment, and environmental restoration.

Ella BradyElla Brady advises public and private sector clients on advancing equity and innovation in government systems. She develops strategies to foster vibrant digital ecosystems across states, counties, cities and communities.

Ethan PaikEthan leverages his expertise in place-based strategic planning and impact analysis to guide the implementation of transformative urban projects and initiatives.

Harman Singh DhodiHarman works to make cities more equitable, accessible, and sustainable through urban infrastructure projects.

Rachel WebsterRachel works with public, non-profit, and private sector clients to devise equitable real estate strategies that consider the needs of under resourced communities through targeted investments and involvement during the development process.

Solomon AbramsSolomon supports real estate advisory, economic development, and TOD projects.

Tommy TruongTommy draws on his experience in community engagement, data analysis and democratization, and public policy to support equitable and inclusive urban development.

 

 

Andrew BoltonAs an Analyst in the New York office, Andrew provides financial and data analysis to real estate and economic development projects across the county.

 

Anna MesserAs an analyst in our New York office, Anna is passionate about equitable economic development, affordable housing, and urban resilience.

 

Astha PuriAstha provides research and analytical work for a variety of real estate and infrastructure projects.

 

Garrett RobinsonGarrett supports local governments and private institutions in crafting solutions to their most pressing challenges, particularly in the areas of displacement and equitable urban development.

 

Kayley EstoestaKayley works across digital equity, food justice, community development, and more to help build cities that are more just. She’s passionate about designing systems, programs, and places that better serve communities of color and the working class.

 

Kelly Pang Kelly is invested in community-grounded and data-driven approaches that build more equitable, just cities. She works on projects ranging from affordable housing and equitable economic development to cultural placemaking.

 

Samuel JacobsSamuel Jacobs provides research and analytical support to real estate and economic development projects including knowledge economies and innovation districts, affordable housing transactions, transit-oriented development, and sports anchored entertainment district.

 

Shoshana WintmanShoshana is an Analyst based in the New York office. She is passionate about equitable urban development, parks and open spaces, and resilient climate adaptation planning.

 

Sophie DanishSophie provides analytical support for HR&A’s transit-oriented development, affordable housing, and climate practices.

Allie Belyaev Manager, Strategic InitiativesAlexandra serves as HR&A’s Manager of Strategic Initiatives. She brings extensive experience in shaping collaborations that center dignity, generativity, and abundance.

 

Julian Phillippi Director of Talent Julian leads Talent Acquisition, Talent Development, and Resource Management at HR&A.

 

Sam Moeller Director of CommunicationsSam helps HR&A tell its story — guiding our communications strategy to support intentional growth and advance our mission.

A Conversation with Alex Lebow, HR&A’s Managing Director

 

We sat down with HR&A’s new Managing Director to discuss the future of HR&A and how there’s no better time to be working in cities.

 

Can you share a bit about your career and what brought you to HR&A? 

 

After six years leading teams at Nike focused on engaging young consumers, global NGOs, and industry partners on the company’s approach to sustainability, I joined HR&A because I was ready to re-align my career with my prior experience and deep passion for working in cities. Growing up in Boston, I spent many years working for a youth development organization whose mission is to build sustainable food systems in the city. During college, I spent time working for members of Congress mostly on issues that impacted cities, and after college, I worked as a middle school English and social studies teacher in a community that was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. I saw up close the impacts housing, food security, and access to basic services had on my students. These experiences set the foundation for my career.   

 

After launching a youth development non-profit that continues to impact young people across dozens of schools in South Louisiana, I had the honor of working for Mayor Mitch Landrieu and managing our partnerships with corporate, philanthropic, and industry organizations. Working for Mayor Landrieu and living in New Orleans transformed my entire life. I worked alongside our current CEO Jeff Hébert and so many others, including external partners like HR&A who helped us rebuild the city.  

 

So, when I had the opportunity to join HR&A, I knew this would be a place where I could bring together my experiences across education, non-profit, government, and corporate sectors to positively impact our company and the clients we serve.   

 

What do you think are the most interesting opportunities ahead for this next chapter at HR&A?

 

HR&A’s superpower is that we’re constantly thinking about what’s ahead for cities while remaining in touch with the issues and challenges that exist today. This is possible because our people come from a diversity of backgrounds and because of the extensive work we’ve done across the country for decades, but it’s also because we’re deeply involved in the communities where we live.

  

2024 presents an opportunity for us to grow our impact, business, and brand. I’m excited to explore areas that impact our clients and industry, including technology. With the emergence of AI and other technologies that impact the way we work, we need to be strategic about leveraging these innovations ethically and effectively while advancing our company and clients’ aspirations. With cities evolving at a rapid pace, especially post COVID, we must tap into HR&A’s track record of constantly iterating and transforming to get ahead of or at least meet what clients and communities need from us.  

 

 

What about your work and your new role gets you up in the morning and keeps you up at night? 

 

My morning routine is sacred and since joining HR&A, I feel even more energized (especially as I sip a hot tea from my favorite local business — Interlude) because I work with people who share my commitment to civic engagement and have dedicated their careers to getting stuff done in cities.  

 

When we’re launching new and exciting initiatives at HR&A, Jeff and I often reminisce about how hard we worked together to increase bicycle infrastructure, launch the bike share program, and improve public transit in the city of New Orleans. . This experience exemplifies the work ethic and creativity that we bring to growing this company and helping our clients turn vision into action.  

 

Sleep is fundamental to how we show up for our family, friends, and colleagues, so I try not to lose sleep over anything. Joking aside, I’m serious about leadership and constantly reflecting on how I can better support our team that works so hard every day. Leadership is a responsibility I don’t take lightly, and I’ll admit that I’ve probably lost a few hours of sleep brainstorming ways to honor that responsibility.  

 

Learn more about Alex here 

A Conversation with Aaron Abelson, HR&A Texas Managing Partner

 

We sat down with the Managing Partner of HR&A’s Texas office in Dallas to discuss his recent elevation from Principal to Partner, the unique challenges facing cities and communities in Texas, and what makes the Lone Star State one of the most exciting places to work in the country. 

 

In your tenure with HR&A, you’ve advanced from a Research Analyst role all the way to Managing Partner — what has that been like?  

 

I joined HR&A in the Fall of 2013 as a Research Analyst, and I was the Assistant to the Chairman, John Alschuler. Looking back now at those formative years in my career, I certainly could not have imagined the path I’ve taken at HR&A and the learning opportunities, supportive mentorship, brilliant colleagues, and diverse project experiences that would help me get to this point.  

 

You helped found our Dallas office — what brought HR&A to Texas and what kind of work have you been doing across the region? 

 

We founded the Dallas office in 2015, which was an incredible opportunity for me to move from New York and help build a presence in Texas from scratch. We had some consequential projects here already, and we had a sense that there was a ton of opportunity here to do important work.  

 

Over the last eight years, it’s been a joy to be able to grow our office and collaborate with amazing people on some incredibly impactful work across the city and state. We’ve helped lead transformative projects across the region like the Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan. We spent over three years working with the Buffalo Bayou Partnership on an investment strategy and master plan for Buffalo Bayou East, a four-mile extension of Houston’s wonderful waterfront park system including park, trail, and community development investments in the Fifth Ward and East End. The plan helped the Buffalo Bayou Partnership secure $300 million in new commitments of funding from the from philanthropic and public sources, which is already helping them realize their vision for reconnecting these communities in Houston with their Bayou. 

 

We’ve also been working for two years with the city of Dallas on crafting and implementing the City’s Equitable Economic Development Policy and incentives Policy, which seeks to address longstanding economic inequalities for historically underserved areas. We work closely with senior City leadership to refine and create policies, structures, and programs that proactively address disparities in economic opportunities and outcomes. I’ve also been leading the team managing the strategic vision update, economic development planning, and real estate strategy for the Panther Island redevelopment project in Fort Worth, which is truly a once in a generation opportunity. Where else can you find a 400+ acre site next to downtown with major economic development potential; essentially an opportunity to create a new neighborhood in the center of Fort Worth through true public-private partnership? 

 

 

What kinds of work do you hope to pursue as you step into the role of Managing Partner of HR&A’s Dallas office?  

 

One of the early projects for HR&A’s Texas office comes to mind as an example of the sustained work we do with clients to help realize bold visions: Harold Simmons Park in Dallas. It’s a transformative vision for the city that we worked on in several phases over the years. We helped our client, the Trinity Park Conservancy, from the beginning, helping craft the vision and plan for the park, and later we developed an equitable development toolkit to shape the implementation of this major park investment. Throughout that later work, we really focused on both maximizing the positive benefit of the project to the community while also thinking through ways to mitigate the potential negative impacts that a major investment like that can have on existing communities.  

 

That mixture of bringing an equity, policy, and community engagement lens to our work has helped shape our approach on other projects like the Ion Innovation District for Rice University in Houston. HR&A has been the strategic partner and development on the project, which has the goal of creating a thriving and inclusive tech ecosystem in Houston. It has been gratifying to not only see the Ion, a 300,000 square foot innovation hub built in a former Sears store, come to fruition as an inclusive center for Houston’s tech ecosystem, but also to see our client and the City of Houston adopt a Community Benefits Agreement guiding over $15M in commitments to workforce inclusion, entrepreneurship, and housing affordability. 

 

I want to continue pursuing work where we’re helping craft a vision for significant urban investments with clients who are really committed to doing them in a community-driven way that maximizes the project’s positive impacts. 

 

What unique value does HR&A bring to Dallas and cities across Texas? 

 

This is such a rapidly growing state with so much of that growth happening in urban areas, and all of that growth has significant implications for housing affordability, job access, environmental sustainability, and numerous other policy, business, and community considerations. Over the last couple of decades, it feels like Texas is really grappling with what that growth means. How does the state keep attracting people and creating jobs and homes for this growing population? How does it continue competing with other desirable cities and states across the country?  

 

As our clients try to answer those questions, HR&A offers an understanding of how policy relates to real estate, and real estate relates to community development, and community development relates to housing — the list goes on. We can help clients understand how to do strategic, transformative urban work in a way that is community oriented and impactful in as many ways as possible. This integrated thinking really resonates here.  

 

You’ve worked in cities across the country; what do you think are some of the unique challenges and opportunities in Dallas compared to other US cities?   

 

In addition to the explosive growth across the state, the other force we’re seeing play our in many cities across the state, but Dallas in particular, has been a great deal of suburban growth. In recent years, there has been a recognition of the value of a vibrant downtown, and there has been a lot more investment in the center city. But at the same time, there are so many challenges for downtowns in these major cities across Texas to grapple with and continue acting as the economic engines they’ve been in the past. It’s a theme we see across the country, but the issues of housing affordability, downtown economic growth, and the challenges of office markets facing a new reality after COVID almost feel more pronounced here. I think Texas is a great place to work on finding the right balance of investment in downtowns as drivers of growth and strength for entire regions. 

 

As HR&A Texas’ Managing Partner, what are your aspirations for the office? Where are y’all headed? 

 

I’m very proud of what the Texas office has become over the last eight years and the team we now have across Dallas, Houston, and Austin. It’s a group of people who I think really reflect the best of HR&A. Everyone is passionate and committed to the work we do and to the places where we live. We have a real dynamic mixture of staff who were born and raised in Texas as well as transplants like me who have found their home here. 

 

I look at all of the projects that my HR&A colleagues from across the state and the country are working on here in Texas and I’m blown away by the diversity and reach of our projects. From broadband and statewide digital opportunity planning, to equitable TOD policies, to affordable housing trainings, to mission-driven real estate and economic development strategies, to parks and open space plans, it is thrilling to see the impact we have had and the clients and collaborators we’ve been able to partner with in cities across Texas. 

 

What’s exciting to me when I think about the future of our office is the opportunity to continue building this team and expand our ability to offer clients here the unique value that is in HR&A’s DNA. We want to leverage all of this team’s passion, expertise, and commitment to improving cities, institutions, policies, and major projects across Texas. 

 

Read more about Aaron here