ULI Challenge calls out racial inequities in real estateUrban Land Institute aims to spark change

Will 21 days of education and collaboration spark lasting change in the real estate realm? The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has crafted a commitment it hopes will nudge the answer toward ‘yes.’

ULI’s 21-day Equitable Development Challenge taking place in February and March shines a light on recognized disconnects in the development and planning sector.

The February 14 kickoff coincided with Black History Month. For three consecutive weeks, participants are receiving an email with curated content focusing on community building and issues of racial inequity. A weekly “candid conversation” brings participants together to discuss applicable Tampa-based initiatives and projects specific to Tampa Bay.

“We believe that we can do a lot to remedy mistakes and foster unity,” says Lucia Garsys, ULI Tampa Bay chairperson. “We believe that everyone, regardless of profession, can gain insights from the resources and conversations.”

That unity includes removing barriers for people of color. According to a 2019 study by Bella Research Group and the Knight Foundation, white professionals hold more than 75% of senior-level executive jobs within the commercial real estate industry. Black professionals hold only 2%. And then there are irregularities in regulation, financing roadblocks, and housing restrictions to consider.

“The 21-Day Challenge is a start -- a program that’s part of what will be a continuing initiative for ULI Tampa Bay,” Garsys says. “We hope this will lead to participants spending time reflecting on and identifying real actions we can take to address the inequities in the real estate industry and in our communities.”

From the “candid conversation” webinars featuring representatives from Tampa Housing Authority, Tampa Bay Times, American Cancer Society in Florida, and more, Garsys hopes participants will consider solutions to what she says are not easy questions. Change must start with a shared commitment, she says.

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) is a global nonprofit research and education organization. Its mission is to mold the future of the built environment to achieve transformative impact throughout communities.

Speakers at the ULI webinars are as follows:

Feb. 18: “Developing Differently” Candid Conversations: Robles Park History and Future Redevelopment.
  • Leroy Moore, Tampa Housing Authority
  • Tim Baker, Baker Barrios
  • Paul Guzzo, Tampa Bay Times
  • Fred Hearns, Fred Hearns Tours
  • Barry Karpay, ULI Tampa Bay Governance Chair
Feb. 25: “Developing Differently” Candid Conversations: Beck-Envision Partnership
  • Taylor Ralph, REAL Building Consultants
  • Leonard Burke, Beneficial Communities
  • Ryan Toth, Beck
  • Allen Greene, Envision
March 4: “StimULI Breakfast” Candid Conversations: City of St. Petersburg
  • Ernest Hooper, American Cancer Society
  • Leigh Fletcher, Fletcher, Fischer + Pollack
  • Gypsy Gallardo, Urban Market Analytics and Power Broker magazine
  • Joe Furst, Place Projects
  • Veatrice Farrell, Deuces Live 
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Read more articles by Amy Hammond.

Amy Hammond is a freelance writer and author of children’s books that encourage the next generation to attend college. When not indoctrinating youth about the necessity of higher education, she enjoys exploring the paradise that is her St. Petersburg home. She holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a Masters in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in such venues as the Tampa Bay Times. Children’s Book Titles by Amy Hammond include: When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Gator; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a ‘Nole; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Bull; When I Grow Up, I’m Bama Bound; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Tiger.