Yorkers are in for a treat on Feb. 10 when Chris Leinberger is the keynote speaker at the city’s Building York summit. Chris is a real estate developer and professor, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, and an author who has dissected how national real estate market models conspire to make it tough on small, older cities and more recently popularized the term “walkable urbanity.”
Chris’ articles in the 1990s helped me understand the investment dynamics of the city of York and why it was so hard to attract financing for high-quality, enduring development. Chris moved well beyond the obvious old tropes of crime, schools and taxes to show how real estate development and finance had become a commoditized, national business, and how small markets like York would never attract the top rank of developers who would actually build something worth having in our downtown (and if you want evidence of what the national, commoditized real estate investment model did bring to York, pay a visit to any of the disposable strip shopping centers that ring our city).
More recently, Chris’ model for an alternative form of investment and his identification of an emerging new consumer market for our city was the basis of the formation of the Codo Development Group. Chris has put his finger on how the preferences of the emerging “Generation Y” (which, by the way, is now numerically bigger than the much-touted baby-boom generation) will influence housing development in America for the next 20 years, and most importantly what a great opportunity that provides for cities.
I, for one, am tired of hearing the crime, schools and taxes formulation used as an excuse by both the public and private sector for not focusing on the real market opportunity we have to develop what the new consumer wants. We already have a darn good – on some days great – walkable urban environment in York. We need to take make it unequivocally great, and then give the people what they want in residential choices.
Come hear Chris on Feb. 10 and you won’t be disappointed. To learn more about Chris before his visit, go to http://www.cleinberger.com/.
IF YOU GO
What: Building York summit
When: 6-8 p.m. Feb. 9, 8 a.m. to noon Feb. 10
Where: Feb. 9, Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center; Feb. 10, Yorktowne Hotel
What it's about: Building York will call to action an assembly of elected officials, stakeholders, policy makers, investors, developers and residents to identify the economic and community development opportunities and challenges facing the Metro-York area and to encourage new theories of investment that spur redevelopment in our urban core.
Program: Day 1 will feature a screening of and a panel discussion about the documentary "My Tale of Two Cities." Filmmaker Carl Kurlander examines his hometown of Pittsburgh as the former industrial giant tries to reinvent itself in the 21st century. Day 2 will feature breakout sessions, panel discussions and Chris Leinberger's keynote remarks.
How much: $10 for Day 1; $30 for morning sessions and keynote lunch; $20 for keynote lunch only.
For details: To purchase tickets for the film or register for Day 2, go to http://yorkcityevents.squarespace.com/registration/. For questions, contact Inside Out Creative at 717-848-9339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric Menzer is president of the York Revolution professional baseball team and manages the Codo Development Group, a real estate development company working in downtown York. Eric is active in community affairs and civic leadership at both the local and state level. He chairs the York County Community Foundation and serves on the boards of Downtown Inc, Better York, YorkCounts and the Crispus Attucks Association. He just concluded several years as Chairman of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, a statewide policy-research and advocacy organization that promotes smart growth and urban revitalization, and he remains active on that board. Eric was previously the senior vice president of Wagman Construction in York. Prior to that, he served for eight years as York’s director of economic development and previously as the executive director of the York County Transportation Authority. He is a passionate baseball fan and lives in York with his wife and daughter.