The Urban Land Institute (ULI), a global research and education institute dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving, sustainable communities, has been awarded a $250,000 grant from The Kresge Foundation to support creative placemaking efforts in communities across the country. Through this program, the Institute will promote the use of creative placemaking to revive underserved urban areas, including commercial corridors. This work seeks to transform underutilized space into thriving, vibrant destinations with amenities and services that support local residents.
ULI has long promoted placemaking as a key component of prosperous, thriving communities. The grant from The Kresge Foundation will support the deepening and expansion of the Institute’s focus on creative placemaking, which is the deliberate integration of arts and culture into a comprehensive community development approach to stabilizing disinvested neighborhoods. Among ULI’s best practices of creative placemaking are those that leverage the value of local assets, lift up arts and cultural talents, and celebrate a community’s unique characteristics and authenticity.
With the Kresge grant, ULI will hire a visiting fellow to assess and integrate creative placemaking across ULI’s work. The Institute will broadly share information about effective approaches and lessons learned, and will engage ULI’s district councils to create and implement projects that leverage arts and culture to improve commercial corridors and create places that boost civic pride.
In 2014, ULI launched an effort to define the characteristics of a healthy corridor and develop models and approaches for health-focused redevelopment that can be replicated in other cities. The Healthy Corridors project involves demonstration corridors in four cities — Denver, Boise, Los Angeles, and Nashville — that are illustrative of similar commercial strips in urban areas across America, with few sidewalks and bike paths, a predominance of fast-food and convenience stores, high speed limits, and high-volume car traffic. Through the Healthy Corridors project, ULI is identifying best practices for equitable revitalization through placemaking that restores a sense of community and inclusiveness as well as a focus on the health of those who live, work, and travel along the corridors.
The grant from The Kresge Foundation will demonstrate how to apply creative placemaking approaches and transform isolated, polluted auto-dependent commercial arterial roads into vibrant, safe, environmentally friendly and healthy places that better serve all residents of adjacent communities.
ULI will also convene members to advise district councils who are seeking to implement creative placemaking approaches in their communities. “The generous support from The Kresge Foundation is greatly enhancing the scale and scope of ULI’s work in creative placemaking,” said ULI Global Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “We’re very excited about the opportunity to delve deeper into a challenge faced by cities around the world — how to turn blighted areas into highly livable places that attract investment and development. This is ULI at its best, sharing practical and tactical knowledge to improve the quality of life for all residents in urban areas.”
The latest grant from the Kresge Foundation is in addition to previous Kresge grants totaling $1.6 million that were awarded to ULI to advance the Institute’s work on improving the resilience of urban areas and communities, and highlighting the role of the built environment in combating the impacts of climate change. “We are honored to continue working with The Kresge Foundation to make a positive difference in people’s lives through better communities,” Phillips said.