Urban Land Institute of Alabama: 3 young professionals, 4 questions, one bright future for Birmingham

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Urban Land Institute of Alabama met on December 4, 2018 at Sloss Furnaces. Photo by Wanda Gilmore

For newcomers attending recent Urban Land Institute of Alabama events and workshops, the first thing you notice is the youthful audience. Regularly, the room is filled with young professionals from all walks of life.

What makes ULI Alabama attractive to Birmingham’s next generation of urban design and real estate leaders is ULI Alabama’s mission to create sustainable and healthy cities. ULI also provides young professionals the opportunity to build lifelong business relationships, along with a chance to learn the latest trends in urban design and community building from state, regional, and national experts.

Recently, we asked three up and coming real estate professionals four questions about how they got involved in ULI, the benefits they receive from the organization, their favorite local projects, and their outlook for Birmingham.

Ashley Walker

Ashley Walker, Associate for Sloss Real Estate Company, Inc. and member of the ULI Alabama Management Committee. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

First, we talked to Ashley Walker, an Associate for Sloss Real Estate Company, Inc. and member of the ULI Alabama Management Committee.

How did you get interested in the Urban Land Institute?

I learned about ULI through a former colleague of mine. After attending my first event, I saw the benefits of responsible land use in California and wanted to contribute to ULI’s mission in Birmingham.

As a young professional how have you benefited attending ULI meetings and events?

ULI events are a great opportunity to network and collaborate with passionate real estate professionals from the Magic City and beyond. They provide industry insight into market trends, economic development initiatives, and so much more.

What is your favorite project old or new in Birmingham?

Birmingham
The Market at Pepper Place, photo by Pat Byington

Pepper Place! It’s a prime example of how abandoned warehouse space can be transformed and given a new sustainable life through a well-designed redevelopment project. From the well-loved Market at Pepper Place, to the design and fitness studios, and some of Birmingham’s finest restaurants, the creative energy is felt throughout the district.

What are your thoughts about the future of Birmingham and Alabama?

I think we still have some catching up to do, but overall there is a promising future for both Birmingham and the state of Alabama. Organizations like ULI, various economic development groups and business incubation programs are fostering growth and bringing new industries to our state. I’ve heard Birmingham is trending to become the “Southern Silicon Valley”. I hope that’s true!

Chappell Stewart

Chappell Stewart works in commercial real estate investments at The Stewart/Perry Co. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Next, we talked to Chappell Stewart who works in commercial real estate investments at The Stewart/Perry Co.

How did you get interested in the Urban Land Institute?

I was introduced to the Urban Land Institute by my father, Merrill Stewart of The Stewart/Perry Co., who has worked to help start the ULI Alabama chapter. At the time I was starting my career in commercial real estate, so ULI Alabama was a great way to learn more about the CRE industry in the state.

As a young professional how have you benefited attending ULI meetings and events?

The ULI meetings and events cover a wide range of topics, including but not limited to, city planning, financing, and market trends. Overall, the events provide different perspectives to aspects of the industry that I am already familiar with as well as help me better understand aspects of commercial real estate that I don’t necessarily deal with every day.

What is your favorite project old or new in Birmingham?

Photos courtesy of Birmingham Landmarks.

I would have to say The Lyric Theatre. Stewart/Perry was thrilled we had the opportunity to restore this theatre back to its true glory so that everyone would have a chance to enjoy it. Stewart/Perry has some very exciting projects in the pipeline for downtown Birmingham, so my answer may change in the months to come.

What are your thoughts about the future of Birmingham and Alabama?

I am thrilled with the momentum that the state of Alabama has in creating jobs. I hope that Birmingham will continue to have major employment announcements, similar to Shipt and Amazon. There are great initiatives within our public school system and transportation system, so I am optimistic that those will help Birmingham continue to thrive and attract people from all over the country.

Katelyn Page

Katelyn Page from Brasfield & Gorrie, supports the company’s commercial and corporate services divisions in Birmingham. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Meet Katelyn Page from Brasfield & Gorrie, where she supports the company’s commercial and corporate services divisions in Birmingham.

How did you get interested in the Urban Land Institute?

I first became interested in ULI for its community and educational events. ULI offers insights on issues impacting Birmingham and an outlet to share lessons learned in surrounding markets.

As a young professional how have you benefited attending ULI meetings and events?

Attending ULI’s meetings and events has been a great way to connect with others in the industry.

What is your favorite project old or new in Birmingham?

Railroad Park

Railroad Park has always been one of my favorite projects in Birmingham. It has been exciting to see it act as an anchor for mixed-use development in the area while serving so many residents and varying uses.

I have also enjoyed following the progress of The Heart of Homewood Master Plan. Few things are more important than citizen participation in the planning process, and I think residents have real, measurable impacts on their communities through such input.

What are your thoughts about the future of Birmingham and Alabama?

Living and working environments have certainly shifted in our urban centers. Our immediate future is in accommodating these preference changes while maintaining competitive, appealing places.

ULI Alabama and Birmingham’s bright future

Birmingham Alabama
View of Railroad Park from on top of the Elyton Hotel by Pat Byington for Bham Now.

Want to be part of Birmingham’s bright future?Join the next generation of young urban design professionals at ULI Alabama today. There is no better way to learn about the latest trends, make connections with decision makers, and help transform Birmingham and Alabama into the best community it can be.

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Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.