With a mission to provide leadership in the responsible use of land, the Urban Land Institute offers a variety of unique programs and initiatives to create and sustain thriving communities worldwide, including the UrbanPlan program. Sponsored locally in Jacksonville by Regency Centers and offered at more than 30 high schools nationwide, the program allows university and high school students to learn real-world fundamentals of real estate development through interactive projects and assignments integrated into one of their courses.
Students at Nease High School present project ideas to a panel, including Regency Centers' Nancy O'Steen (seated second from left)
We’re very fortunate that Regency has supported UrbanPlan since our former CFO Bruce Johnson helped to bring the initiative to the ULI Northeast Florida district 13 years ago,” said Kathryn McKie, Director, Investor Relations and Corporate Analysis at Regency Centers, and Co-Chair, UrbanPlan Northeast Florida. “We now have around 20 Regency Jacksonville employees that regularly volunteer their time with UrbanPlan, and Regency also financially supports the program by serving as the presenting sponsor.
The program is currently available to students at four nationally-ranked Jacksonville high schools: Bishop Kenny, The Bolles School,Allen D. Nease High School and Episcopal School of Jacksonville. Through a variety of events, projects and assignments, Northeast Florida volunteers — including Nancy O'Steen, Capital Markets Analyst, and Jeff Grover, Financial Services Manager, from Regency Centers — work to expose these students to various real estate development opportunities in architecture, law, banking, accounting, engineering and beyond.
Regency Centers' Jeff Grover (with green folder) and Kathryn McKie volunteering at The Bolles School
Most recently, Regency’s Patrick McKinley, Vice President and Market Officer, and Leasing Agent Eric Apple helped facilitate a bus tour that took students to visit several local urban developments. The trip included a stop at Regency’s Brooklyn Station on Riverside (below, pictured), which provided an up-close look at an urban revitalization projects in Jacksonville. The tour included education on the development’s history with background information on the merchant selection process, and other details.
Most high schoolers know their favorite restaurant, the place where they get their hair cut or where their parents go grocery shopping, but they don’t think about what happened to make the development possible or why those retailers choose that location,” said Patrick McKinley, Vice President, Market Officer. “This program gives students the opportunity to get behind the curtain on the development and decision-making process. The recent tour of real world developments gives great context to the students as they prepare for the upcoming semester, when they’ll work in groups to plan developments, put different uses together, and ultimately present the final product to a mock city council group that provides feedback. The local schools that participate have received good feedback and the local ULI member support is strong that makes this program impactful to the local youth.