Developers Communicate with Community through CoUrbanize
Some development projects fall through because of a vocal minority’s opposition. Likewise, other development projects move forward against popular opinion, because only a small segment of the community is represented in community meetings and town halls. CoUrbanize brings developers and members of the community together through an online tool that makes decision making more accessible and discourse as easy as a comment thread.
Seattle’s Central District had success using CoUrbanize to reach a compromise on a proposed redevelopment plan instead of hosting in-person discussions. When developers rely on in-person meetings, they are excluding a valuable segment of the community that is unable to attend due to work or family obligations. Typically, only older retirees or property owners are able to weigh in on development projects. Through CoUrbanize, residents of all demographics have the opportunity to comment online on community topics, and the entire thread is reported on the public record, like any in-person meeting.
With CoUrbanize, the developer poses questions to the community and is able to alter their plans based on feedback. In 2017, a plan to add hundreds of apartments and a high-end grocer in Seattle’s Central District fell through, because of concerns that the gentrification would displace the neighborhood’s current residents. Earlier this year, a new developer got approval for a different plan in the same space, that included affordable housing, a public square, and retail space dedicated to local businesses, by soliciting community feedback and reaching a common goal.
Redevelopment and gentrification can bring both positive change and negative consequence. Existing residents and business owners may worry about getting priced out of their neighborhoods, but without new developments, the existing population may need to relocate for housing and job opportunities anyway. When developers connect with the community and find out what their needs are, they can implement a plan that helps current residents and encourages growth.
Sources: Fast Company