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Building Healthy Places

Around the world, communities face pressing health challenges related to the built environment. For many years, ULI and its members have been active players in discussions and projects that make the link between human health and development; we know that health is a core component of thriving communities.

The ULI Building Healthy Places Initiative will build on that work with a multifaceted program—including research and publications, convenings, and advisory activities—to leverage the power of the Institute’s global networks to shape projects and places in ways that improve the health of people and communities.

Building Healthy Places

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Jacksonville is a rapidly growing metropolitan city in Northeast Florida, with approximately 850,000 residents. While it is the largest city in area in the continental United States, its downtown area is its historic core.  The area features major corporations, residential neighborhoods, sports, entertainment and cultural venues. At its heart is the Northbank Riverfront District, centered on the St. Johns River between Margaret Street on the west and Liberty Street on the east.

As part of its Building Healthy Places initiative, ULI North Florida in partnership with AIA Jacksonville, conducted a community exercise focused on the Northbank Riverfront District. They assembled an expert panel composed of 16 public, private and civic leaders to explore opportunities to shape projects and places along the Northbank in ways that promote healthy living.

The panelists included Melody Bishop, Akel Logan Shafer; Lori Boyer, Jacksonville City Council Member; Dr. Dawn Emerick, Executive Director, The Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida; Nat Ford, CEO, Jacksonville Transportation Authority; Preston Haskell, Chairman, The Haskell Company; Dr. Richard Jackson, Chair, Environmental Health Sciences/Professor, Urban Planning Environmental Health Sciences, Institute of the Environment & Sustainability, UCLA; Terry Lorince, Executive Director, Downtown Vision Inc.; Eric Mann, President & CEO, The YMCA; Jerry Mallot, President, JAXUSA Partnership; Alan Mosely, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce; Jimmy Orth, Executive Director, St. Johns Riverkeeper; Bob Rhodes, Attorney at Law; Brian Teeple, CEO, Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council; Aundra Wallace, Downtown Investment Authority, City of Jacksonville; Ben Warner, President & CEO, JCCI; and Carol Westmoreland, Executive Director, Florida Redevelopment Association.

The Project
The Northbank Riverfront District is currently zoned for entertainment, commercial and residential uses.  For the purpose of this exercise, the district was geographically divided into five zones. Major stakeholders from each zone, including private corporations, non-profit organizations and governmental entities, were invited to participate in the exercise.

The 20 stakeholders from the businesses along the Northbank Riverfront District who participated were asked to review ULI’s Ten Principles for Building Healthy Places; specifically:

1. Put people first.
2. Recognize the economic value.
3. Empower champions for healthy community.
4. Energize shared spaces.
5. Make healthy choices easy.
6. Ensure equitable access.
7. Mix it up.
8. Embrace unique character.
9. Promote access to healthy food.
10. Make it active.

Each stakeholder was then asked to make a presentation to the expert panel. The presentations outlined the history of their projects, if and how the organizations currently integrate any of the 10 principles into their projects, and what principles they might be able to apply to future projects. Additionally, the participants provided ideas for improvements they view as integral in creating a healthy, vibrant riverfront community.

The Results
As the expert panel discussed the presentations and their visions for needed improvements, several common themes emerged that fell into three categories: policy, programming and physical infrastructure. From these conversations, very specific recommendations emerged in each of the five zones. These recommendations will be released at the ULI Florida Summit in Orlando on June 12, 2014.

A special thank you to the
ULI Innovation Grant Fund, Florida Blue and AIA
for their support of this initiative
.