“Placemaking has exploded over the past ten years, and the use of innovative principles that encourage people to linger and interact more intimately with real estate creates long-term value,” explained David Wilk, Managing Director with Colliers International. The executive recently served as the moderator for a seminar that examined adaptive re-use, re-purposing and innovation at a conference sponsored by Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr at the Baltimore Convention Center.
“Research shows that our economy is operating at full employment but companies still struggle to find qualified workers,” added Wilk, who is also an Assistant Professor at the Fox School of Business at Temple University. “They need to look for this talent in urban areas, where many have no personal pathway for success, by creating programs with social impact. Many feel left out of society and the system and the most important issue is to demonstrate that people care about them.”
The optimization of public and private real estate assets can leverage this human capital, Wilk explained, by transforming urban areas into new employment neighborhoods. This effort can be successful with the re-imagining of under-utilized sections in a city’s downtown but “innovation must create social interaction and economic inclusion.”
Current efforts that illustrate this concept in Baltimore City were highlighted by Bishop Donte’ Hickman of the Southern Baptist Church. Among the amenities being developed at The Southern Streams Health and Wellness Center are senior housing and a health and wellness center near Broadway East that is the centerpiece of a larger revitalization effort on the East side of the city. The development will also include a childhood development element and retail space on the ground floor, with a lease in place with Johns Hopkins Medical Systems to help execute the programming. A portion of the project is being rebuilt after it was lost while under construction during the uprising in 2015.
“The most effective way to restore people’s confidence and provide hope for the future is to rebuild and improve the real estate in the community that directly impacts their lives,” Hickman stated.