As the executive
director of Urban
Land Institute Atlanta, Jeff DuFresne
is extremely well versed in the real estate and development issues confronting the
metro area. In today’s Four on Friday, we chat with him about the city’s
growing embrace of walkable communities, the challenges of his job and the John
Fogerty-penned tune that he likes to sing in the shower. Many thanks to Jeff
for his time.
DuFresne: The Urban Land
Institute (ULI), founded in 1936, is a global nonprofit with 30,000 members
representing the entire spectrum of the real estate development industry. ULI Atlanta
serves as the regional steward of the Institute and is charged with providing
leadership in the responsible use of land and creating and sustaining thriving
communities in the Southeast. We fulfill this mission by providing educational
programs, technical assistance and the Center for Leadership, as well as
networking opportunities for our members.
your vantage point, what are the biggest challenges facing metro Atlanta in
terms of land use and development?
DuFresne: Much has changed
since the boom years as our city embarks on a very different path of
development. It’s no longer the “poster child for sprawl,” as our civic leaders
and the real estate community have discovered that walkable urban places are
the kind of communities that we wish to create. Not only do such places attract
the vaunted highly educated young technology worker by offering a higher
quality lifestyle, but these places are inherently more affordable for people, because
they extract many of the costs of the automobile from the household budget (as
well as time spent in traffic). For this reason, the biggest challenge (and
opportunity) facing metro Atlanta is to embrace this type of development, which
is closely akin to transit-oriented development.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
DuFresne: Staying focused.
ULI is a holistic organization that covers all aspects real estate
development. We are constantly invited to participate in regional land-use
challenges and opportunities. Ultimately, my job requires me to stay focused on
engaging ULI members in
select opportunities where they will have an impact on making metro Atlanta a
better place to live, work and play.
HS: If you
could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
DuFresne: “Down on the
Corner” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, because I can sing it in the shower
with my dogs howling background vocals.