Innovation Asset Assessment for Lehigh University

Lehigh University identified its best opportunities for development that reflect the university’s programmatic and innovation strengths, as well as the real estate potential of the Lehigh Valley.


Lehigh University, a private research university in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, sought to strengthen its research capabilities by building its first innovation campus and redeveloping two additional non-core campuses. As a growing regional university in a tertiary market, Lehigh’s real estate group wanted to better understand the program alignment for an innovation campus and the market potential for real estate development and industry partnerships. HR&A worked with Lehigh’s real estate team to generate excitement and momentum for the redevelopment of its non-core real estate assets by crafting a feasible development vision and detailed strategies for development, funding, activation, and governance.


Through HR&A’s analysis of market potential, discussions with industry leaders in the Lehigh Valley, and collaboration with some of Lehigh University’s top academic researchers, HR&A recommended a holistic redevelopment approach.

The university would align its campuses around the development of new concepts and ideas, where each campus offers unique opportunities to entrepreneurs and researchers at every stage of business development – from basic research through start-ups and maturation. This work guided the university’s in moving forward with a clear vision and actionable strategies for each campus to foster innovation in Lehigh Valley and elevate the university’s standing as a premiere research university.


As of August 2018, the University is moving forward with a solicitation process to identify a private sector partner for a revenue-positive first phase of redevelopment.

Capacity Building for the National Disaster Resilience Competition

The National Disaster Resilience Competition institutionalized the practice of resilience in cities across the country.


To confront increasing physical vulnerability to the effects of climate change and decreasing public funding available for infrastructure and community development, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Rockefeller Foundation partnered to transform resilience building policy and practice through the National Disaster Resilience Competition. In 2014, President Obama allocated $1 billion in HUD funding to competition winners, which were selected from places that suffered presidentially-declared disasters between 2011 and 2013.


HR&A supported the Rockefeller Foundation’s management of the program, providing technical support for 67 cities, states, and counties as each prepared competition submissions. This work ensured that the projects and programs would respond to a broad array of climate-related risk, and address social, economic and environmental challenges. HR&A also designed and delivered a capacity-building program for participants that provided individual technical support to teams to guide them through proposal development; regional “Resilience Academies” that brought together a network of experts to support teams in assessing risk and developing strategies and projects to address them; and tools and other resources to help interpret HUD guidance.


The competition enhanced local, state, and regional resilience techniques by offering resources and encouraging partnerships to amplify potential financial and social benefits activated by federal funds. In 2016, HUD announced the 13 winning cities, states, and counties of the $1 billion competition. Funded projects include state watershed, coastal protection, community flood grant, and public housing resilience pilot programs; and coastal wetland and rural river resilience efforts among other projects.
Following the awards, the Rockefeller Foundation engaged HR&A to incorporate workshop teachings into a permanent resilience curriculum, which was deployed across the world through the Global Resilience Academy.

Defining the Economic Impact of WeWork


As part of an initiative to shape the future of work and cities, WeWork was interested in demonstrating how the WeWork community creates an economic ripple effect for people, businesses, neighborhoods, and cities.


To quantify the economic benefits of WeWork to a range of stakeholders interested the company’s growth, HR&A developed the first detailed economic and fiscal impact analysis of WeWork communities in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The analysis focused on WeWork’s value-add to each partner and its crucial role in growing each city’s innovation economy, small business sector, and entrepreneurial community. HR&A built on this by assessing neighborhood-level demographics and market trends, and creating illustrative profiles of WeWork’s members. Finally, HR&A developed projections to estimate how WeWork’s expansion could impact other cities across the U.S.


Our study found that WeWork would be among the largest private-sector employers in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, supporting 50,000 jobs across the three cities. For each member, one additional job is created somewhere else where in the city, in total representing nearly 1% of each city’s workforce. A subsequent report, WeWork’s Global Impact Report 2019, expanded to track impacts the impacts of the company worldwide. Findings from both studies will be incorporated into WeWork’s Future of Work initiative and will continue to support outreach to policymakers as WeWork expands.

Imagine Boston 2030

Imagine Boston 2030, the city’s first comprehensive plan in 50 years, sets the agenda for future growth, investment, and development.

A historic, land-constrained city with a highly productive workforce and a fast-growing population, Boston’s greatest challenge is one that many growing cities are facing—how can it keep housing affordable, invest in infrastructure, and expand access to opportunity as it grows?
Imagine Boston 2030 is a plan to strengthen the city’s physical assets and encourage equitable economic growth. On behalf of the administration of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, HR&A used economic, demographic, real estate, environmental, and land use analyses, coupled with input from over 14,000 community members, to guide development of an innovative framework that will enhance and preserve Boston’s historic communities while accommodating long-term population and job growth. Working in partnership with Utile Design and supported by Inkhouse Communications, Greenberg Consultants, Hood Design Studio, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Nelson Nygaard – HR&A estimated the housing and working space needed to accommodate growth and developed a strategy that leverages the City’s physical assets, human capital, and regulatory and financial tools to achieve the City’s goals of affordability, inclusive growth, preparing for climate change, and investing in quality of life improvements.
Through our analysis, we identified three areas requiring customized approaches to growth, enhancement, and preservation—existing neighborhoods, the commercial core, and edge areas. HR&A helped the City to build consensus on a set of initiatives that combined this place-based planning with new policies —ranging from carbon neutrality to anti-displacement measures —to advance the plan’s underlying goals. By combining planning and capital investment with policy, Imagine Boston 2030 will enable the City to firmly guide development of new housing and investment in areas with the ability to support sustainable growth, while ensuring that the benefits of that growth are accessible to more Bostonians.
The final Imagine Boston 2030 plan articulates how the initiatives and priority actions will be funded, led, and measured to ensure success—directly informing the City’s five-year capital plan. Concurrent plans like Climate Ready Boston, Go Boston 2030, and 100 Resilient Cities are other important avenues of progress for the plan’s goals, providing complementary strategies that build off Imagine Boston.

Downtown Revitalization Initiative

HR&A developed investment strategies to secure $75 million in private investment and create 500 jobs in three downtown neighborhoods.

In 2016, New York State launched the $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative to transform 10 formerly declining downtowns into places where tomorrow’s workforce will want to live, work, and raise a family. HR&A worked with three downtown communities – Jamestown in Western New York, Plattsburgh in the North Country, and Jamaica, Queens – on a seven-month strategic planning effort to identify targeted public investments that will spark private investment and create jobs.
With a team of planning, landscape design, engineering, and public engagement professionals – in concert with local planning committees composed of leaders from government, business, and civic organizations – HR&A identified local strengths, challenges, and priorities through technical analysis, public workshops, and deep engagement with local planning committee members. HR&A’s work resulted in 32 project recommendations across the three communities, including:

  • Gap financing in Jamestown to redevelop two vacant properties into a 140-key full-service hotel and a brewery, which would draw on visitation from the National Comedy Center.
  • Public infrastructure funding to unlock development potential in Plattsburgh, including redevelopment of a publicly owned site in the historic downtown.
  • Development of an inviting gateway plaza in Jamaica, plus investments to support local job and industry growth, including a 10,000-square-foot co-working space and high-speed broadband. Final awards are forthcoming.

HR&A framed the proposed projects within long-term revitalization strategies and developed implementation plans, which were summarized in strategic investment plans submitted to the state on behalf of each downtown. In total, awarded projects will leverage nearly $30 million of state funds to attract more than $75 million in additional private and public investment, create at least 500 direct jobs, and set the stage for further downtown growth and community development.


Based on the success of first round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, New York State announced the launch of a second round in the spring of 2017.


To learn more about this project, please contact Partner Kate Collignon

Fulton Center Implementation & Retail Strategy

HR&A advised the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on the retail vision for the Fulton Center, its solicitation process for a master retail operator, and a landmark revenue-sharing agreement with Westfield.

As the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) planned to enhance its transportation infrastructure in Lower Manhattan, the agency sought to incorporate retail uses and public space into its development program for a $1.4 billion transit hub. HR&A helped the MTA develop a vision for a flexible retail and commercial environment that promotes a vibrant public realm while creating a dynamic commuting experience for one of New York’s busiest transportation corridors. The resulting development, Fulton Center, connects 300,000 daily commuters to nine subway lines, and provides 50,000 SF of signature, multistory retail and commercial space operated by Westfield, one of the world’s premier retail owners and operators.

HR&A created a strategy to optimize a retail space that would serve a diverse array of shoppers –residents, workers, and tourists – and ensure the retail is in harmony with existing and future retail in the station-area. By first establishing spatial boundaries that accounted for pedestrian circulation needs and transportation functions, we were able to create an exciting space-by-space tenanting strategy that reflected physical feasibility, market potential, and fulfilled gaps in the current retail landscape. We advised the MTA to dedicate the Center’s second-floor to a destination food environment, which would activate the less heavily trafficked space, and fulfill a missing niche in lower Manhattan. To translate this strategy into an operations concept, we partnered the station architect to ensure accommodations for an appropriately-sized back-of-house space, utility provisions, and signage needs.


As of January 2016, Shake Shack, Zaro’s Bakery, and Irving Farm coffee and roasters have all leased spaces in this new food destination. Additionally, co-working startup WeWork signed a 15-year lease for 38,000 square feet in the renovated Corbin Building

Equipped with a well-defined retail vision and strategy, the MTA asked HR&A to manage its solicitation process to identify a master lessee for the management the operations of the retail and public spaces. For this process, HR&A drafted the RFP, engaged developers, structured the pre-proposal conference and site tours, and answered respondent questions. The clearly articulated guidelines of the retail strategy provided confidence to RFP respondents that the space would be functional for tenants, but also ensured that the MTA would procure a retail operator that would adhere to world-class standards. HR&A actively supported the MTA through the proposal review and selection process, as well as negotiations with preferred bidders.


In 2013, after two years of planning and negotiation, the MTA selected the Westfield Group as master lessee, who is responsible for leasing, operating, maintaining, and dedicating private dollars to the upkeep of the retail and public space. In addition to the lessee agreement, HR&A structured an innovative public-private agreement as part of the transaction, in which Westfield and the MTA will share revenue from the retail space and the ad-revenues generated by over 50 digital screens installed throughout the station.

Times Square Economic Impact Analysis & Retail Strategy

HR&A Partners led New York City and State efforts to reinvigorate Times Square, and begin the process of building its strong brand.

Following World War II, through the 1980s, Times Square, while the heart of New York City’s entertainment district, suffered from crime, urban decay, pornography, social disaffiliation and general economic deterioration. Today, Times Square is the nation’s best example of the successful transformation of a symbol of urban decay into a world class center for entertainment.

HR&A conducted the first economic impact analysis of Times Square on the New York City economy since its transformation in 2007.

Beyond measuring traditional impacts, HR&A quantified how Times Square promotes the City to the world by serving as a tourist destination, global headquarters, premier public gathering space and prime event location. The Times Square Alliance used the study to engage in the City’s PlaNYC process, securing the district’s future as one New York’s most important public spaces and vibrant mixed-use neighborhoods. In 2011, HR&A completed an update of the 2007 impact analysis.

HR&A Partner Kate Coburn created a comprehensive retail strategy for Times Square.

Working with the Times Square Alliance, Kate developed a strategy to diversify the retail tenant mix in the Times Square area extending retail and restaurant opportunities to Eighth Avenue. She created an implementation plan to attract new tenants to the area, outlining a marketing strategy that included public relations, retailer outreach, outreach to area landlords and broker contacts.

Program Development and Implementation for The Lawn on D

HR&A developed the conceptual programming strategy and business plan for The Lawn on D.

The Lawn on D is a vibrant, flexible, program-driven landscape and event space located along Boston’s rapidly revitalizing D Street Corridor. Since its opening in the summer of 2014, the 2.7 acre park has become a popular, well-loved part of Boston’s Innovation District, drawing over 30,000 visitors from all areas of Boston to experience the park’s high-impact, well-rounded programming. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA), the public-organization that owns the space located at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, tasked HR&A with the development of a catalytic programming strategy that would serve as an innovative placemaking exercise and driver of neighborhood revitalization. To frame the park as Boston’s new go-to destination for the area’s diverse customer base of residents, workers, and conventioneers, HR&A developed a vision that emphasizes play and leisurely interaction with culture, incorporating interactive playscapes, high-impact art and design, a diverse calendar of events, and local food and drink concessions. The resulting Lawn on D delivers high-quality, interactive programming – within a flexible, experimental event space and traditional passive park – to strengthen the connection of the convention center to the surrounding urban fabric.


HR&A worked with the MCCA to translate this programming vision into an implementable, defined strategy, and devised the planning, implementation, and management strategy for the park’s past four operating seasons. HR&A created a business and operations plan for the MCCA, which outlined a management structure and revenue sources. We also oversaw program concept development and implementation, to ensure its alignment with the MCCA’s vision for The Lawn on D and the surrounding D Street Corridor. This included vendor selection and management. As project manager, HR&A provided ongoing analysis of The Lawn on D’s programming performance and revenue targets to inform the MCCA’s future operations and management of the space.


During its operating seasons, The Lawn on D is open to the public seven days-a-week, hosting a mixture of recurring public programming such as daily morning exercise classes and weekly move screenings, as well as special events and exhibitions, including food festivals, art installations, and ticketed-concerts. Since its opening in 2014, the park has gained notoriety throughout Boston, and the country, as a new model for innovative, high-impact placemaking and received numerous awards for its programming and design.


  • 2015 Honor Award for General Design, Boston Society of Landscape Architects
  • 2015 National Small Project Award, American Institute of Architects
  • 2015 Downtown Merit Award for Public Space, International Downtown Association
  • 2015 Honor Award for General Design, American Society of Landscape Architects

Images Courtesy of: MCCA

New York City Tech Ecosystem Study

After creating a landmark study in 2013 that analyzed the size and complexity of the Tech Ecosystem in New York City, HR&A released a new study in 2021 exploring how New York City’s Tech Ecosystem has changed in the last decade.

HR&A worked with a consortium of tech and civic organizations including Association for a Better New York, Tech:NYC, and Google to assess the changing landscape of the tech industry in New York City. Our methodology form 2013 established a new bar for Tech Ecosystem assessments and has been adopted widely in many other cities and has been included in academic literature on the subject. Most Tech Ecosystem studies now use the broader definition we established in 2013, which includes all jobs at tech companies and jobs in tech at companies where tech is not their core business.



This working definition for the “Tech Ecosystem” divided tech into three broad categories

HR&A used this working definition to estimate the number and distribution by occupation and firm type of tech ecosystem jobs, and to model and evaluate the ecosystem’s economic and fiscal impact to the City.

Tech jobs are increasingly prevalent across all sectors in New York City, including in industries not traditionally associated with “tech.” While 65% of tech ecosystem jobs are in tech industries, a notable 35% share of jobs are in non-tech industries. Nearly 1.5X more tech workers are employed in non-tech industries (131,000) than in tech industries (89,000), particularly in sectors that are key to the city’s current and future economic health – healthcare, film and media, finance, and advertising. About 60% of the tech jobs in non-tech industries can be considered “high-tech,”* focused on the creation and management of sophisticated tools, products, systems, and support services, such as network and computer systems administrators, data administrators, information security analysts, and computer and information system managers. In today’s fast-changing world, these digital skills and jobs that leverage technology will only continue to grow in importance in every sector.


New York City’s tech ecosystem generates significant economic and fiscal impacts for the city. The direct, indirect, and induced impacts of the tech ecosystem account for a total of 809,000 jobs, $291 billion in economic output, and $3.63 billion in fiscal revenue for the city and the state.


Tech jobs have larger multiplier effects on employment compared to other industries. The 369,000 direct jobs in the tech ecosystem contribute 440,000 additional multiplier jobs in New York City, representing 15% of the city’s total workforce. In 2013, this share was 13%. Every 1 tech ecosystem job creates an additional 1.2 jobs, considerably higher than other top industries in the city like Finance and Insurance or Professional Services.


The city’s tech ecosystem generates $109 billion in worker earnings from direct and multiplier jobs, equivalent to 16% of the city’s total worker earnings. Of that, $66 billion is generated from direct jobs and $43 billion from additional multiplier jobs. In other words, for every dollar of earnings within the tech industry, an additional $0.65 in earnings is created within the city’s economy.


Economic output from the tech ecosystem accounts for 28% of the city’s overall economic output. This is twice the share of the tech ecosystem’s output in 2013. The tech ecosystem’s $195 billion in direct economic output contributes an additional $96 billion in multiplier effects. In other words, tech ecosystem investments drive additional spending in the New York City economy: every $1 spent in the tech ecosystem supports an additional $0.49 in economic output.


New York City’s tech ecosystem workers also contribute billions of dollars to City and State fiscal revenues in the form of sales and income taxes. In 2021, the tech ecosystem was responsible for $696 million, or 8% of the City’s sales tax revenue, and $1.10 billion or 9% of the City’s income tax revenue. Similarly for New York State, the city’s tech ecosystem generated $677 million in sales tax collections and $1.15 billion in income tax collections. Overall, the tech ecosystem generated $1.80 billion and $1.83 billion in taxes for New York City and New York State, respectively, in 2021, contributing a total of $3.63 billion in fiscal revenues.


Manhattan serves as the nucleus of the tech ecosystem in New York City. Adding 73,000 jobs over the last decade, the borough now contains nearly three quarters of the city’s entire tech ecosystem workforce. Manhattan provides the advantage of density in businesses, workers, and office space and benefits from historic investments in tech incubators, accelerators, and other programs that grow the tech ecosystem. The remaining jobs are distributed across the outer boroughs, of which Brooklyn has the largest share with 12% of tech ecosystem jobs.


Brooklyn experienced the largest percent growth in tech ecosystem jobs of all the boroughs in the last decade. The unprecedented growth of Brooklyn’s tech ecosystem can be attributed to investments in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle over the last ten years. By contrast, Queens, which held a similar share of jobs in 2012, has only added 3,000 tech ecosystem jobs in the last decade. The Bronx and Staten Island have seen no meaningful growth.


The report has been featured in:

The City

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle






Water Street POPS Upgrading Study

 HR&A studied the economic potential of improved privately owned public spaces in Lower Manhattan.

HR&A teamed with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects (BBB) to develop concepts for the improvement of privately owned public spaces, or POPS, along Lower Manhattan’s Water Street. POPS are spaces that are provided and maintained by a private developer or company for public use in exchange for zoning relief. Due to the large quantity of office building stock and its key location between the East River waterfront and the Financial District’s core, Water Street’s competitiveness and brand as a commercial corridor is crucially important to Lower Manhattan’s future.

Water Street’s commercial corridor is characterized by inconsistent and underused retail that is set back from the street.  HR&A worked with New York City Economic Development Corporation and New York City Department of City Planning to develop strategies that use POPS to incentivize private investment in retail and the public realm throughout the Water Street Corridor. HR&A analyzed the retail and restaurant offerings around Water Street, and devised a high-level, stabilized-year cash flow model for new retail space at several POPS to inform a financially viable plan. HR&A also estimated the additional value generated by the proposed upgrades for commercial property owners.  With an overly wide street and underused public spaces, Water Street also has one of the largest concentrations of POPS in New York City. See the full presentation here.