You’ve got a project with exceptional architecture, you’ve completed months of review and modification, your design team is sure this project will get significant notoriety, yet after hours of going back and forth in City Council meetings, they ask you to cut the project in half, increase the setbacks, or just drop the project altogether.
Does this sound familiar?
Developing commercial and residential projects in urban areas require special care. While some urban areas are on the verge of new developments, misunderstanding and community opposition can block even the best designs.
You can reduce risks by taking a thoughtful approach to the process. Some residents and politicians demand programs be based on trust, openness, and consensus building. This should not mean you compromise your design. Executing these ten important steps can result in strong design and a smooth process.
Consensus doesnít mean that everyone agrees, itís more about showing respect for different opinions, developing relationships, and identifying shared goals to establish positive public opinion so the project will gain community and government acceptance. Itís important to nurture supporters and expose the extremists.
The following 10 points should be addressed:
1) Create the vision. Itís about design, not density. Establish a vision early by connecting it to local settings and looking for ways to build partnerships. Good design attracts people.
2) Know your market. Do the homework necessary to understand the competition and the market forces that influence a project.
3) Understand the issues. All communities have a set of unique characteristics and issues that guide their decisions. Itís essential to have a good understanding of the marketplace, environment, regional influences, and financial aspects. There is no single solution.
4) Get the public benefit. Make the benefit for the city & community clear.
5) Pay attention to everyone who has a stake in the project. Have small discussion groups to get their feedback.
6) Establish trust. Do this by sharing knowledge and listening carefully. Be honest, encourage participation from everyone, stay neutral and pursue win-win goals.
7) Inform decision makers. Meet one-on-one and provide solutions to educate decision makers.
8) Use the media. Take the high road and keep the message simple. Talk about helping the community.
9) Use the unique. Incorporate the areaís physical social and historical environment into the design.
10) Be patient . Listen carefully, provide guidance, establish credibility, and let the process grow.
By using these ten points, several revitalization plans have been completed in the face of strong initial community resistance. Guided by strong visions which have been established by working with city programs launched to solicit feedback and educate everyone have had a profound effect in the success of revitalization efforts.
Implementing major public and private improvements can convert old spaces into lively gathering places for community activity.