Inclusive Urban Development: Self Check

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Inclusive Urban Development: Self Check

We make no secret that we are interested in the actual construction of quality properties for the people of Philadelphia to enjoy, but conversations that impact the neighborhood, community, city and world where we build, work, and live are conversations we want to join. That’s why we find ourselves talking about, analyzing, and grappling with timely concepts at play in the world of community organization and urban development. Concepts like Inclusive Urban Development.

So what exactly is Inclusive Urban Development? And almost more importantly, are we working towards that here in Philadelphia and what can Raza Properties do to live out this vision? According to Harvard Business Review: “Inclusive prosperity is the idea that the opportunity and benefits of economic growth should be widely shared by all segments of society.”

It is a concept that can evoke strong emotion and sounds excellent in theory, but achieving the reality has proven to be difficult even under the most well intentioned circumstances in the most progressive cities.  Raza Properties has no doubt received criticism around this very topic.   However, we are actively in communication with community organizations and area leaders as we work to hear and listen to the needs and concerns of neighborhoods about development, diversity, disparity, and other difficult topics.  Beyond that we are also asking what our role is in enflaming or improving all of the above.  

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Richard Florida and Jodie McLean gives us a picture of some cities that are trying hard to implement aspects of inclusive urban development and some of the critical aspects to include when looking at development through this type of lens. 

Suggestions for inclusive urban development:

  1. Create jobs that pay living wages and inspire pride in the community
  2. Foster a sense of community at the street level
  3. Housing options must be attractive to the community and conveniently located
  4. Design for inclusion (click the link above to read more in depth)
  5. Cities and real estate developers must work together to support inclusive prosperity
  6. Long-term thinking with short-term flexibility 

So as we pause to review these six items and ask ourselves how we are doing to date and what else we can do tomorrow, we ask you to do the same thing.  That’s how community change happens.

Self Check: Today, at Raza Properties, we begin interviews for a new position looking to create jobs that pay living wages and inspire pride in the community (#1).  Promoting local art, music, culture, and business whenever and wherever we can in Philly, but particularly where we develop is at the heart of our efforts (#2). We regularly look to make acquisitions in convenient locations with finishes and amenities that are attractive to the community (#3)–trying when we can to ask potential residents themselves for feedback.  Whenever possible we reach out to other developers and leaders to work as professionals together in the same area and support this common mission of inclusive prosperity (#5).  And anyone in this field knows that without a good plan (long term thinking) and a keen understanding of how often and quickly the course may have to be altered you won’t survive so long term thinking with short term flexibility has become a must whether we like it or not (#6).  The central part of this analysis is whether or not we are designing for inclusion (#4) and that reflection will continue and hopefully grow– as we strive to be a dynamic work in progress.

We hope to be lifelong learners on topics like this and hold ourselves accountable for constant change and improvement. The authors of this piece hit the nail on the head when they note:

“How we grow our cities has never been more important to economic vitality, equity, and the broad welfare of future generations. As the divide between advantaged and disadvantaged communities and residents continues to grow, best practices for inclusive prosperity have to scale rapidly. Urbanists, developers, city planners, and local leaders need to anticipate how increased development and innovation will change the shape of cities and implement new approaches in response.”

Continue the conversation with us in our comments section or on social media.  We value your input. 



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