Beyond the Build

Community Service

Why The ULI Matters

Several years ago, I made the decision to build a home out from town, and moved to a beautiful spot in the country with views of a mountain range, lakes, woods and wildlife. It has been nice. I raised 3 good children here, but they are now grown and have moved on. Now my place feels too much like an island, a little too isolated.

The fact is, most humans need some form of socialization to be happy, and people are starting to recognize that more. In a way, I feel the need for connectivity is helping to drive Millennials and Baby Boomers to densify and to move back to our city cores. Two of my children live in the heart of their respective downtowns, biking or walking to work and to most of the places they want to go. I feel myself being pulled closer in as well.

Perhaps this is why I’ve gotten more involved in an organization called the Urban Land Institute. ULI creates a dialogue or forum to discuss and share the best land use practices and real estate development in both the public and private sectors. This mission creates the exchange of ideas, information and experience among industry leaders and policy makers. In turn, this helps create quality communities, neighborhoods and places.

Last fall, I attended the Fall Meeting in San Francisco with many from around the country. From developers to investors and government officials, I met a ton of quality people and left reeling from all the information that was shared.

Maybe ULI can be another tool in the tool box for you to help a bit for future generations? If you are not involved in a local chapter, maybe you should consider or just be a member at large to gain knowledge of what the “can be’s” might look like.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.