By Kim Briesemeister
Earlier this year, I was asked to serve on the International Downtown Association’s Public-Private Partnership Council. This is a tremendous honor for our firm, and I was excited to collaborate with an array of industry leaders to produce in-depth research briefs about top urban issues. The report I participated in, “Partnerships for Urban Place Management” is now available on the IDA’s website, www.downtown.org. I highly recommend this report to city leaders who are looking to attract private-sector investment.
Downtown champions require effective tools to help them create successful cities, and this guide is intended to provide practitioners with many methods, tactics, and issues that public-private partnerships (P3s) can address, including improvements within public safety, economic development, planning, mobility, infrastructure, outreach, engagement, planning, finance, public space management and activation, marketing and events.
There are many nuances to public-private partnerships, and it can be very difficult to do it right. A clear vision and strong leadership are key to establishing the environment that will attract the private sector.
Having negotiated 11 public-private real estate transactions that resulted in hundreds of millions in investment dollars in city centers and urban cores, I focused on several real life examples in the report.
One of the projects highlighted is the reinvention of West Palm Beach’s downtown through the creation of one the largest public-private real estate deals in the country. I was the CRA Director of West Palm Beach following the opening of City Place and worked with legal counsel on multiple amendments to the development agreement.
Initially, this bold plan called for acquisition of more than 72 acres of land, and redevelopment of the area as a large-scale, mixed-use project. The development of the site also spanned three mayoral terms. West Palm Beach’s downtown transformed from what seemed to be permanent blight and hopelessness into a premiere destination featuring top businesses, retailers, restaurants and an acclaimed convention center.
Real life stories are invaluable for city leaders, and while no two projects are like, there are many lessons to be learned. Some of the most interesting feedback we have received from our book, “Reinventing Your City, 8 Steps to Turn Your City Around,” has been about the case studies. Insights gained from others’ experiences, both the positive interactions and the missteps, help develop a blueprint for success.
Creating positive change is the goal of all city leaders. Those who achieve it, spend time studying and learning from the lessons of others. That is why reading the reports created by the IDA are one of the best first steps in creating the community your city deserves.