2018 National Planning Conference

Downtowns (Re)invented for Suburban Cities

Monday, April 23, 2018 from 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. CDT

Location: 230

CM | 1.25

Cost: Included in Registration

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC188071


  • How to identify community and economic drivers that justify public and private investment in downtowns/city centers today
  • Effective policy and design strategies for repositioning existing downtowns, and establishing new ones
  • Effective strategies for public, private, and institutional stakeholder collaboration around defining and accomplishing common goals for downtown areas


Sandy Springs, Georgia, was incorporated amidst Atlanta’s suburbs in 2005 and soon sought a signature place to embody its community and identity. Its 2012 City Center Master Plan provided a strategy to transform greyfields into a brand-new downtown of community destinations and housing choices. In a few short years, 1,800 bedrooms, blocks of retail, and an arts center have already established this community center. How did Sandy Springs spark this change? How is it evolving around its new center? Elsewhere, the bayside downtown area of Corpus Christi, Texas, has struggled against strong forces drawing jobs, tourists, and residents elsewhere. Its newfound appeal as a neighborhood, with hundreds of new housing units, is starting to build needed synergy with arts, dining,and recreational, employment, and tourist activity. How is Corpus Christi reinventing downtown as a sustainable center of community and economic development?This session highlights distinct strategic-planning approaches – addressing real-estate markets, politics, design, infrastructure, and management – required in these contexts to secure and target public investment to attract private investment; shape private real-estate development to create and leverage great urban places; spark constructive, ongoing public/private/institutional cooperation in managing downtown; and demonstrate meaningful near-term change, while building momentum for more.

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Session Speakers

Ben Carlson
Goody Clancy
Boston, MA

James E. Tolbert, FAICP
City of Sandy Springs
Sandy Springs, GA

Keren-Or Costanzo, AICP
City of Corpus Christi Planning & ESI Dept.
Corpus Christi, TX

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