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Real estate development: who is it good for?
Urban planners love to hate real estate developers. We tend to see them as the enemy, hell-bent on ruining our beautiful cities and towns. This trope is highly misguided. Real estate developers are just cogs in a complex, capitalist system that rewards wealth accumulation and a singular pursuit of profit.
My former student, Nicole Stephens (now working in the Real Estate Department at the Massachusetts Port Authority) and I wrote a textbook aimed to both educate planners about the business side of real estate development, but to also help developers understand the planner’s perspective and strategies they can adopt to making buildings more people-centered. The book: Buildings for People: Responsible Real Estate Development and Planning was just published by Wiley and offers a wide-ranging tour of the financial, theoretical, historical, and practical aspects of real estate development and planning.
Nicole and I argue that the art and science of developing and redeveloping cities and towns should be a collaborative process among many actors: from construction managers, to architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, and public policy professionals. Together, these teams can shape new buildings to serve people’s needs. They can create places that are just and sustainable and that endure. The book is a literal roadmap for responsible real estate development and planning. Happy reading!