/ Land Development / Urban Land Institute Launches Curtis Infrastructure Initiative

Urban Land Institute Launches Curtis Infrastructure Initiative

Parul Dubey on November 9, 2020 - in Land Development, News

WASHINGTON D.C. (November 9, 2020) – The Urban Land Institute (ULI) announced today the launch of the Curtis Infrastructure Initiative, a multi-year initiative to identify and promote infrastructure solutions to create equitable, resilient cities and enhance long-term community value. ULI is a global, multidisciplinary real estate organization whose work is driven by more than 45,000 members dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving communities.

The Curtis Infrastructure Initiative aims to provide research and practical tools to help ULI members advance infrastructure investment and new solutions to local infrastructure issues, along with directly supporting member engagement at the local level through engagement with ULI’s 52 District Councils. In the first year alone, between $15,000 to $25,000 will be provided to between six District Councils to launch a series of technical assistance and capacity building projects that will provide recommendations and take local action to address complex infrastructure challenges. Additional grants will be awards to District Councils in future years.

To secure the funding, each District Council has been asked to submit proposals, which focus on creating impact through the implementation of a plan of action that will result in outcomes such as shifts in policy and practice, change in community/industry prioritization, change in design/planning, and/or new infrastructure projects. The Curtis Infrastructure Initiative will take lessons learned from these projects to develop a toolkit for infrastructure implementation to provide replicable solutions. The term “infrastructure” includes transportation, critical utilities (energy, water, waste, and telecommunications), and the key spaces that build community (anchor institutions, housing, and parks and open space).

Overseeing the strategic direction and providing program guidance will be the Curtis Infrastructure Initiative’s Global Advisory Board, comprising leading figures in the real estate and land use industry who will serve terms of up to three years on a voluntary basis. The board consists of:

  • Craig Lewis, principal, Stantec, who will chair the board;
  • Patrick Callahan, Americas Executive Committee Member, founder and chief executive officer, Urban Renaissance Group;
  • Debra Campbell, city manager of Asheville, North Carolina;
  • Stephen Engblom, executive vice president, AECOM;
  • Todd Mansfield, former ULI Global Chairman, chairman and chief executive officer, Crescent Communities;
  • Kelly Nagel, senior vice president, Stoltz Real Estate Partners;
  • Mike Parker, Americas infrastructure leader, EY;
  • Tyrone Rachal, president, Urban Key Capital Partners; and
  • Leslie Woo, Americas Executive Committee Member and chief executive officer, CivicAction and CivicAction Leadership Foundation.


“We are very excited to be launching this initiative to build a movement to address our complex infrastructure challenges,” said Craig Lewis, chair of the Curtis Infrastructure Initiative Advisory Board. “We are in a moment of time that is facing multiple crises of which infrastructure is the tie that binds us altogether. Building globally competitive infrastructure is more than just addressing crumbling roads and bridges it is also about setting up systems that help us recover from COVID-19, eliminate racial injustice, and are resilient to our changing climate. I am humbled to be chairing such an exemplary board to meet these challenges.”

“ULI is at the forefront of finding solutions to real estate challenges,” said Gwyneth Jones Cote, president of ULI Americas. “The Curtis Infrastructure Initiative is an example of how the Institute continues to lead the way in bringing together the brightest minds in the industry and it has really energised thousands of our members at a local level to take a proactive role in addressing infrastructure issues. Our District Councils are determined to facilitate local action through public/private partnerships and we look forward to the outcomes of the first grants awarded during ULI’s Virtual Fall Meeting, which took place last month.”

The Initiative has initially funded programs in six District Councils, which will work on different aspects of infrastructure:


  • ULI Cincinnati: The District Council will conduct six workshops to accelerate the proposed 34-mile urban trail loop called “CROWN” to improve equity and development of affordable housing in underserved areas. The District Council and partner TriState Trails sees the completion of this trail and its access as an opportunity toward global competitiveness and economic mobility.
  • ULI Dallas-Fort Worth: The District Council will conduct a technical assistance panel to recommend infrastructure priorities within Fort Worth’s historically Black Stop Six neighborhood as part of the city’s match for a significant HUD grant. The project will involve civic leaders and community voices in determining the best way to allocate the local funds for infrastructure to support equitable investment. 
  • ULI Louisiana: The District Council will conduct a technical assistance panel within Baton Rouge’s Plank Road corridor to identify opportunities for free internet access through 5G. This would build on efforts by the city to implement the recommended plans within the Imagine Plank Road small area plan.
  • ULI Minnesota: The District Council will work with ReConnect Rondo and MnDOT to hold a series of workshops in the city of St. Paul on developing the Rondo Community Land Bridge covering I-94 through Public, Private, Philanthropic and People (P4) Model. This work builds on an advisory services panel that was completed as part of ULI’s involvement with the 10 Minute Walk partnership.
  • ULI San Antonio: The District Council will convene a task force to explore innovative and equitable mobility services to maximize transportation tax revenue, reduce vehicle miles traveled and expand first and last mile solutions within the VIA Metropolitan Transit system. This includes the goal to provide better access to education across the city and region.
  • ULI Toronto: The District Council will conduct four workshops to develop the concept of Transit Oriented Communities, which is broader than the Transit Oriented Development concept. This includes identifying steps and strategies for equitable, dense development that aligns with provincial goals to urbanize some of Greater Toronto’s suburban development pattern.

The Curtis Infrastructure Initiative is named after the late James (Jim) J. Curtis III, who was a former ULI Foundation Chairman as well as managing partner at Bristol Group, a San Francisco–based real estate investment and development firm, who passed away in 2019 at the age of 65. He was well known for being intensely passionate about his interests–including ULI, which he had been a member of for nearly 40 years–and believed that “we shape our infrastructure, and thereafter our infrastructure shapes us.”

Curtis was keenly interested in the role of infrastructure as a key component of thriving communities. The ULI/Curtis Regional Infrastructure Initiative, active between 2008 through 2011, involved the Institute’s content team collaborating with four district councils to design and implement ambitious programs addressing regional infrastructure challenges. Through the initiative, ULI sought to improve infrastructure decision-making by linking land use with regional transportation and sustainable development considerations in Florida, Chicago, Minnesota, and Seattle.

“Jim lived and breathed the values of ULI, and he shared his time and wisdom with members and the next generation of industry leaders unconditionally,” said ULI Global Chief Executive Officer W. Edward Walter. “Through his generous donation, he has established a legacy for us to put infrastructure at the heart of creating and sustaining thriving communities.

For more information, visit americas.uli.org/infrastructure-initiative

About the Urban Land Institute

The Urban Land Institute is a non-profit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has over 45,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land us and development disciplines. For more information on ULI, please visit uli.org  or follow us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram

About the Curtis Infrastructure Initiative

Through research and publications, technical assistance, and convenings, the Curtis Infrastructure Initiative leverages ULI’s global member network to provide leadership on infrastructure challenges at the local, national, and global level. To learn more, email infrastructure@uli.org or call 202-624-7000


The Urban Land Institute 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 46,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines

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