Sustainable Suburbs: Developers’ Perspectives on Transportation and Compact Development

« Back to Events
October 8, 2009
Rachel MacCleery

The ULI Infrastructure Initiative convened this forum in October 2009 to explore how to leverage transportation and land use investments to promote sustainable growth in the suburbs. Keynoted by Georgia Institute of Technology professor Ellen Dunham-Jones, co-author of the book Retrofitting Suburbia, the forum drew over 100 people. Three panels explored big picture issues of regional spatial planning and governance, neighborhood design, and where we should go from here.

Key ideas include the following:

  • Suburbs are a key opportunity, but are often unprepared for development
  • Suburbs are diverse places that will become more diverse over time
  • Options for reusing suburban areas include reinhabitation, redevelopment, and regreening
  • Connecting the dots between suburban projects—including effective subregional planning—is critical
  • Highly connected streets, with aligned infrastructure, can support more compact development
  • The transit-oriented development value premium comes from creating a place near transit, rather than the transit itself
  • “Transit-ready” developments can be built in anticipation of transit in the future
  • Transit-oriented development does not “just happen”: the right land use and financing frameworks need to be put in place


Welcomes and Keynote Address: Opportunities for Rethinking the Suburbs

The Big Picture: Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together

This panel examined big-picture issues of regional spatial planning, governance and MPOs, and project finance. Where do individual projects and the big picture issues overlap?

  • Mark Schneider, Managing Partner, Fourth River Development, Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania (PDF)
  • Steven Friedman, President, SB Friedman and Company, Chicago, Illinois (PDF)

Transit Ready and Walkable: Recognizing the Life Cycle of Development

This panel examined issues of neighborhood design and development. What does transit ready and walkable really look like and what have we learned?

  • Sam Zimbabwe, Technical Assistance Director, Center for Transit Oriented Development, Washington, D.C. (PDF)
  • Marliee Utter, President, Citiventure Associates, Denver, Colorado (PDF)

Where Do We Go From Here?

This panel examined some of the nitty-gritty challenges of compact development, including parking, zoning, NIMBYism, and financing, and what developers and policy makers can do to overcome them.

  • John Tschiderer, Vice President- Development, Federal Realty Investment Trust, Rockville, Maryland (PDF)
  • Marilyn Taylor, Dean, Pennsylvania School of Design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PDF)
  • Tony Greenberg, Associate, JBG Companies, Chevy Chase, Maryland (PDF)

Additional Files

Event Summary (PDF)

Agenda (PDF)

Speaker Bios (PDF)

Cross-Sector Partnerships for Equitable TOD. Urban Land. November 18, 2010.

Press Coverage. ClimateWire. October, 2009. (PDF)

Retrofitting Suburbia. Urban Land. June, 2009. (PDF)