Latest News from Seifel Consulting Inc.

Dec 31, 2020

Creative Placemaking

Creative Placemaking 

We create better places for ourselves when we create better places for everyone.  

     Juanita Hardy


The Urban Land Institute (ULI) explores the benefits of creative placemaking, along with best practices and successful case studies in cities throughout the United States, in its report, Creative Placemaking: Sparking Development with Arts and Culture. The report was co-authored by ULI women Kathleen McCormick, Juanita Hardy and Marilee Utter. 


As quoted in the ULI press release for the publication, “Creative Placemaking in real estate development is important now, more than ever, in this time of COVID-19 and racial unrest,” said former ULI Senior Visiting Fellow, Juanita Hardy, an author of the report and managing principal, Tiger Management Consulting Group LLC. “Creating places inspired by art and culture provide common ground for connection, inspiration, and healing.”


On July 16, 2020, Juanita Hardy shared many of the publication’s findings in a virtual program sponsored by the Women’s Development Collaborative.  As she discussed in this WDC Room of Our Own program, the synthesis of art and culture in tandem with great urban design has the power to bring communities together. Inspired projects have stitched together neighborhoods in beautiful ways, such as the        Crosstown Concourse, which transformed a defunct Sears Distribution Center into a mixed use “urban village” in Memphis, Tennessee. Juanita noted 4.2% of the US GDP comes from the arts, demonstrating that creative placemaking adds tangible value.


She also presented three inspiring creative placemaking efforts in the Washington DC area:

  • Monroe Street Market in the Everton neighborhood, a thriving development where the ground floor spaces are work studios for artists and an “artists walk” creates an interior public street and a unique cultural vibe permeates the entire block.
  • 11th Street Bridge Park over the Anacostia River of Washington, DC, which will literally “bridge” the Anacostia neighborhood to Capitol Hill with an elevated park for healthy recreation, environmental education, and the arts.
  • The $1 billion transformation of the Walter Reed Army Medical featuring adaptive reuse of existing historic buildings and new mixed use development with 300,000 square feet of office, a hotel and conference center, 2,200 residential units (20 percent affordable), 125,000 square feet of retail, more than 200,000 square feet of space dedicated to education and the arts while preserving more than 20 acres of open space.

“We create better places for ourselves when we create better places for everyone,” says Juanita. Throughout her writing and this program, Juanita continually stresses the importance of having the artists, architects, and landscape designers involved from the beginning of a development. By combining elements of the built environment in compelling ways that attract people, we not only create a unique sense of place, but we foster healthy, culturally rich, and economically thriving places.


The Women's Development Collaborative (WDC) is a network of women leaders who inspire, promote and support women who lead transformative real estate developments. ULI member Libby Seifel founded WDC with other women leaders to advance our collective capacity to champion and catalyze women-led developments, building on the work of the ULI Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) to increase the visibility and promote the advancement of women leaders in the real estate industry.

Since 2017, members of our local San Francisco District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI SF) have been working hard to foster innovative solutions to the Bay Area housing crisis through ULI SF's Housing the Bay initiative.


Housing the Bay has brought together partner organizations, industry and public sector leaders, and global experts to share bold ideas and strategies to catalyze healthy, sustainable, and affordable housing options for everyone who lives and works in the Bay Area. Our members and partners have co-created three well-attended Summits and numerous lead-up events, tours, and workshops focused on breaking down barriers and finding lasting housing solutions for the Bay Area.

The third Housing the Bay Summit was held virtually on September 15, 2020 with musical interludes from jazz musicians associated with the SF Jazz Center. The 2020 Summit opened with an insightful discussion regarding transformative solutions to bring about systemic change moderated by Tomiquia Moss, Founder of All Homes in conversation with Melissa Jones (BARHII), Jeff Tumlin (SFMTA) and Kate Gordon (California OPR).  Deanna Van Buren, Co-founder of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces, spoke about her work to harness the power of the built environment to counter societal inequities. Three Bay Area start-ups pitched their technologies and business plans to increase housing production and increase housing options. The 2020 Summit also featured two thought provoking panels about current and future  housing initiatives with statewide leaders such as California Assemblymember David Chiu, Assemblymember Buffy Wick and Governor Newsom’s Senior Counselor on Homelessness, Jason Elliot, as well as Bay Area leaders of the “3Ps Housing Plan,” Fred Blackwell (SF Foundation), Denise Pinkston (TMG) and Linda Mandolini (Eden Housing). San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed did an inspiring closing keynote.


Last year's 2019 Summit featured inspiring presentations by Dr. Michael McAfee, CEO of Policy Link, Calvin Gladney, CEO of Smart Growth America, Tyrone Poole, Founder and President of One App and Lisa Bender, President of the Minneapolis City Council.   A diverse group of innovators and entrepreneurs did lightening round presentations of their innovative solutions to address our housing challenges. The Summit's closing panel  featured a dynamic panel of four California mayors who are working hard to address housing solutions in their cities.  


To date, ULI San Francisco has held three Housing the Bay Summits, and our members and partners have co-created nearly two dozen lead-up events, tours, and workshops to break down barriers and take steps toward finding lasting housing solutions for the Bay Area.


The ULI SF Housing the Bay Steering Committee is co-chaired by ULI members Eric Tao of L37 Partners/AGI and Libby Seifel of Seifel Consulting.

Construction is well underway for the Ameswell luxury hotel and office development, located adjacent to Highway 101 at 750 Moffett Boulevard on route to downtown Mountain View. The new office and hotel complex will include a well-appointed 255-room hotel and 225,000 square feet of office space that will achieve the highest sustainability designation (LEED Platinum).  (Click here to take a virtual tour of the project!)

This development is the result of a successful public private partnership between the City of Mountain View and the developer—Broadreach Capital Partners. Seifel provided real estate and property development advisory services to the City in support of the development of this 7+acre City-owned property, evaluating the financial feasibility of alternative development scenarios, recommending the consideration of office, hotel and retail uses at the site, and then advising on the developer solicitation, selection and negotiation process that led to the public private partnership. (Please refer to this prior news posting for more information on the project and our collaboration partners.)


The past year was tumultuous, marked by the passing of many iconic figures that have shaped our times. As 2017 begins, we want to take a moment to remember six inspirational lives and share some of their most poignant messages for our future. 
Change is in the air, and we must all choose how we will respond to these disruptive times. As Gwen Ifill demonstrated so eloquently, our democracy depends on how well we engage and learn from one another. Despite the constant rhetoric that surrounds us, we must be even more committed to listen, learn and engage in caring conversations with people from all walks of life and perspectives, as only together can we move forward in a positive way. 

Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation. Gwen Ifill


David Bowie really did seem to be a “man who fell to earth” rather than being born here. His extra-terrestrial inspiration, pioneering music and eccentric persona propelled our thinking in new directions. He revealed the power that comes from embracing both our masculine and feminine sides, and his outsize personality demonstrated why being different is a gift not a burden. May we all have the freedom to be our eccentric selves like David Bowie!


I find only freedom in the realms of eccentricity. David Bowie


Elie Wiesel vowed never to forget the first night at Auschwitz that turned his life in the labor camp into one long night of horrors. He dedicated his life to fighting injustice and promoting world peace through his writing, teaching and Foundation for Humanity. As the Nobel citation honoring him stated: “His message is one of peace, atonement and human dignity. His belief that the forces fighting evil in the world can be victorious is a hard-won belief.” His message that we have the power to transform darkness into light is a spiritual call to us all. 


Even in darkness it is possible to create light. Elie Wiesel


Growing up in the segregated south, Cassius Clay Jr. (Muhammad Ali) wasn’t afraid to fight. He used his talents not only in the boxing ring to become a world champion but to fight for social change, exemplified by his refusal to be drafted in to the Vietnam War. He devoted his life to helping those in need, traveling around the world as a UN messenger of peace, and to promoting special causes near to his heart, like the Special Olympics. His wife Lonnie says that Ali wants us to remember him as a person who never became embittered enough to quit or to engage in violence despite the many injustices he experienced. Let’s all remember him by keeping the good fight going and always making our days count. 


Don't count the days, make the days count. Muhammad Ali


Cannot remember Leonard Cohen without thinking about how Judy Collins resonated his poems to life. As the song goes, Leonard Cohen truly was a bird on the wire, who tried in his way to be free. By the freedom and power of his words, he will continue to sing on in our hearts and minds, reminding us that we can always transform and evolve by acting out who we want to become. 


Act the way you’d like to be, and soon you’ll be the way you act. Leonard Cohen


In her recent interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, Carrie Fisher reminisced on filming Star Wars and told Terry that she had melded with Princess Leia over time. “I like how she handles things. I like how she treats people….[S]he tells the truth…and gets what she wants done.” As we move into this new era of change, may we be inspired to explore our internal and external worlds, get things done by treating people well, and always find our calm within the storm. 
Writing is a very calming thing for me. Carrie Fisher

As we move forward into 2017, let’s commit ourselves to:

  • Embrace change
  • Engage in thoughtful conversations
  • Celebrate our differences
  • Create light out of darkness
  • Make the days count
  • Act the way we want to be
  • Get great things done by treating people well
  • Commit to doing what feeds our souls and calms our minds

Thanks to all of you for collaborating with us over the years, and look forward to working with you to catalyze positive change in 2017.

In the words of the Dalai Lama

When we feel responsible, concerned and committed, we begin to feel deep emotion and great courage. 


Let us all redouble our commitment to making the world a better place for everyone’s children. 


During 2016, we at Seifel increased our professional and personal contributions to organizations that feed the hungry, provide affordable housing, support women around the globe, deliver in-depth news coverage, feature inspirational stories and music, and promote good government, visionary planning and sustainable development.


Change is in the air. 


The future is in our hands. 


Be sure to download a copy of our 2017 Seifel Calendar (click here).


We are excited to announce that UC Berkeley Extension has launched a new sustainable design program and selected “Designing Effective California Public-Private Partnerships” for this program. This course has been expanded to a two-day course and will be eligible for academic credit and continuing education credit for planners and attorneys (AICP and MCLE).

Thursday and Friday, May 13-14, 2010, 9am - 5pm


San Francisco UCB Extension, Room 206, Art and Design Center, 95 Third Street, San Francisco

Information and Registration:

Guest Lecturers: John (Jack) Nagle of Goldfarb & Lipman and Ethan Walsh of McDonough, Holland & Allen

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) provide a unique way for the government and private developers to work together to create sustainable and profitable urban infill developments. This two-day course offers practical techniques for designing, evaluating and negotiating effective PPPs. It describes how to effectively utilize California's unique legal and financial tools to accomplish a broad range of projects, from the redevelopment of surplus public properties and brownfields sites to the creation of mixed use developments that incorporate green design and mixed-income housing next to public transit.

Case studies and lectures by experts in the field offer practical techniques to understand and structure effective PPPs. Students will learn about the unique objectives and contributions of the public and private sectors in a PPP, the laws governing redevelopment-sponsored PPPs, and best legal practices in negotiating and documenting PPPs. They will also learn how to solicit, evaluate and select the right development team. The most successful PPPs effectively balance the financial objectives and needs of the public and private sector, so the course will present key fiscal and real estate concepts critical to understanding how the deal will be evaluated from both the public and private perspective. Participants will also learn how to encourage PPPs by using the unique tax increment financing tools of redevelopment, as well as other public financing techniques.

ELIZABETH (LIBBY) SEIFEL, M.C.P., AICP, is president of Seifel Consulting, an economic consulting firm. She helps private and public sector clients resolve complex urban growth issues, maximize real estate assets, and achieve fiscal goals. She has advised on more than 100 redevelopment project areas in California with projected new development values from $100 million to more than $4 billion.