Brilliant sunshine greeted nearly 4,000 urban redevelopment professionals including planners, designers, developers, environmental professionals, contractors and financial professionals, from across the country at the ULI Spring Meeting, held in downtown Detroit in early May. A large portion of the attendees were in town for the first time in many years, if at all, and were impressed by the forward momentum. “As Detroit goes, so goes the nation,” it has been said. Certainly, our visitors were intensely interested in sharing creative ideas and lessons learned in the course of Detroit’s recent transformation, to the benefit of post-industrial cities and struggling neighborhoods everywhere.
The conference was a wonderful opportunity for us at NTH to help showcase the Detroit metro area, to hear from the best and brightest minds in urban redevelopment and to network with other city builders and urban infrastructure professionals far and wide. Ashley Lesser, P.E., an engineer in NTH’s Environmental Group who has been involved with ULI Michigan for several years, and Bhushan Modi, P.E., Vice President of Environmental Services were in attendance. The general sessions focused on industry trends and transformative developments in Detroit and Las Vegas, with a keynote by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. Various panels highlighted special topics such as parks, public-private partnerships, neighborhood revitalization, historic preservation and adaptive reuse, and the impact of innovations in manufacturing and mobility on real estate.
The transformative development projects highlighted during the conference underscored the idea that the built environment is a key driver of Detroit’s rebirth. Forward-thinking developers have transformed the streetscape of Detroit not only by pursuing ambitious projects, but by filling them with people—the lifeblood of a city. Toward this end, there’s been a focus on rehabilitating iconic structures and creating inspiring new public spaces. Given the unique challenges presented by Detroit’s long industrial history and dynamic waterfront, these visions could not be realized without engineering expertise; and NTH has helped to fulfill many of these visions over the years.
“NTH has been a part of the transformation of Detroit for more than two decades and we’ve had a hand in many of the projects that were on display,” said Modi. “It was great to see attendees and presenters point to projects on which we’ve collaborated, such as Little Caesar’s Arena and other the other Downtown sports stadiums, and to hear the excitement about the West Riverfront Park project on which we will begin work this summer. We are proud to be an integral part of restoration and rejuvenation of the entire Detroit area.”