ULI Receives $250,000 Grant From The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation To Support Institute’s Building Healthy Places Initiative

Grant Project Focuses on Transforming Auto-Dependent Commercial Strips into Vibrant Hubs of Activity    

For more information, contact: Trisha Riggs at 202-624-7086

WASHINGTON (October 17, 2014) – The Urban Land Institute (ULI), a global research and education institute dedicated to responsible land use and sustainable community building, has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support the Institute’s Building Healthy Places initiative. Through the initiative, ULI seeks to help shape projects and places in ways that improve the health of people and communities.

With the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant, ULI will leverage the substantial land use and urban development expertise of its nearly 33,000 members to provide guidance on transforming isolated, auto-dependent commercial arterials roads and soulless commercial strip centers into vibrant, safe, and healthy corridors. Through an integrated program of work, which will be conducted in 2015 and 2016, ULI will:

  • Work directly with three U.S. communities to identify problematic arterials and commercial strips and strategies for reinventing them as healthy places with strong connections to surrounding communities, many of whom are immigrant and low-income;
  • Develop and refine a typology for a holistically healthy corridor and provide models for healthy corridors nationwide;
  • Draw upon its district council network, as well as mayors and other public officials who have participated in the ULI Rose Center for Public Leadership Fellowship program, to disseminate knowledge and inform a broad community of practice around transforming high-traffic arterials and commercial strips into healthy corridors.

“Reviving commercial strip centers as healthy, multi-use corridors can help meet a variety of community needs, including expanding affordable housing, connecting workers to jobs, and offering underserved communities better retail options,” said ULI Global Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “The generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will greatly enhance the scale and scope of ULI’s work in this important area. We are thrilled to have been selected to receive the Foundation’s support as we share best practices of healthy corridor development and help urban and suburban communities thrive.”

“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is pleased to support ULI and its work with those at the forefront of innovative urban design where we live, work, and play,” said Sharon Roerty, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  “Our zip code may be more important than our genetic code in influencing our health, and this work is an opportunity to place health at the center of how we design, build and re-imagine our communities.”

ULI has a long history of exploring ways to revitalize aging commercial corridors throughout the United States with a particular emphasis on making them more pedestrian-friendly and appealing as neighborhood gathering places and on redeveloping and reusing the properties within commercial strips to meet community needs.  This work is part of the Institute’s ongoing pursuit of design development practices that are environmentally conscious, economically sound, and which provide community-wide benefits.

Program activities planned as a result of the grant include:

  • Selection through a competitive process of three “demonstration communities” representing a variety of corridor types and engaging with them via our district council network and technical assistance panels that will provide recommendations for healthy corridor design;
  • Establish a healthy corridors project working group composed of ULI members and Rose Center Fellowship alumni to serve in an advisory role and provide thought leadership on healthy corridors through ULI’s Spring and Fall Meetings;
  • A summary report that synthesizes the experiences and recommendations of the three demonstration communities, explores healthy corridors with a multi-faceted approach, and outlines a new typology for a healthy corridor.

About the Urban Land Institute                            
The Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org) is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 33,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.


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