Changing the development process from the industry side: Small Steps – Bold Steps
Formalizing the ad hoc success stories that do exist may require new personnel and skill sets. By engaging consultants who understand community dynamics through direct experience and participation, who posses facilitation and outreach skills and who are not seen as potential adversaries (as developers’ lawyers all too often are) developers might initiate a consultation and outreach processes that would more successfully engage local communities, stakeholders and local decision-makers.
Utilizing the toolkit perhaps more frequently used by municipalities or NGOs might serve not only to build bridges, but also strengthen public understanding of the benefits of intensification done well. Developers might also stand to reap some gains from non-traditional research inputs—from “listening” to the positive desires of communities—inputs that might positively inform decisions relating to built form, marketing approaches, etc.
Methods such as facilitated advance opportunities to discuss and review projects (or potential projects), modified focus group style workshops, modified survey techniques, and local events, are more likely to be produce desired outcomes than traditional community meetings or one-on-one meetings with non-vetted community “leaders.”
As well, by sponsoring, or engaging consultants to organize, non-standard forms of ongoing outreach (marketing), such as walking tours (of previous projects with architect), speaking sessions (at market-appropriate venues), workshops (on approaches to successful intensification), social events (with buyers, prospective buyers, stakeholders), developers could contribute to building an enhanced knowledge base and a positive perception among stakeholders, opinion leaders, as well as exiting and potential buyers, benefiting their firm in particular and the industry as a whole. The development firm that takes this approach and wins with it may well be seen as an industry leader.