By: Shawni Lo, Toronto Community Housing
Over the course of my career, I have consistently turned to ULI Toronto as a resource for professional development and knowledge sharing. Through the ULI Fall Meeting in Los Angeles, I was amazed by the global reach and international scale of the institute. Thanks to generous support from the Rose Center, I was able to attend my first Fall Meeting where I met industry leaders from across North and Central America and gained first-hand experience on master-planned communities and affordable housing in an American context.
My week at the Fall Meeting began with a tour of Playa Vista (pictured below), a tremendous mixed-use development and technology hub. I was inspired to learn about the aviation history of the site, the lengthy entitlement process, and the vision that is being realized. I am curious to see how phase two of the development will continue to transform Playa Vista into a truly walkable neighbourhood. As I listened to the passionate talks by the developers and designers involved in the project, I felt like it was a level to aspire to for the public housing revitalization that I am working on in Toronto.
On my journey back to downtown Los Angeles, I began to notice the evident homelessness in the city. The makeshift tent encampments at street corners seemed to suggest a homelessness crisis in the city. I soon learned about the housing and economic challenges facing the growing metropolitan area.
At the Fall Meeting, I heard from government officials, non-profit agencies, and private developers about various innovative tools and solutions to address housing affordability. It was refreshing to hear from the president of the Housing Authority of Los Angeles about the agency’s plan to redevelop the existing public housing development of Jordan Downs. While I listened, I reflected upon my own revitalization experiences in Toronto. Stories of successes and challenges prove the importance of a public-private collaboration in addressing housing affordability.
One of the highlights from the week was my participation in the Urban Revitalization Product Council. I was grateful for the opportunity to be engaged in the tour of the Arts District and the ability to share this experience with my long-time mentors from Toronto. Discussions ranged from adaptive reuse to urban regeneration. I was intrigued by the diverse perspectives shared by the panelists and members. My experience at the Product Council and the Fall Meeting was inspirational. I am excited for the expanding network that I established and the professional relationships that I continue to build through ULI.