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Urban Land Institute presents fifth annual Smart Growth Awards

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By the year 2030, the San Diego region will have grown by approximately 1 million people, 290,000 new homes and roughly half a million jobs. With more people calling San Diego home, how the region accommodates the growth will be a deciding factor in the future viability and livability of America's Finest City and beyond. One key in handling the growth is developing and implementing smart growth strategies.

The Urban Land Institute San Diego/Tijuana District Council has been conducting a smart growth celebration since 2004. ULI San Diego/Tijuana continues its mission to promote smart growth strategies through facilitating local discussion of public policy issues and best practices related to real estate development, city building and land use. Locally, ULI has nearly 750 members and more than 40,000 members internationally.

On May 14, ULI will host its fifth annual Smart Growth Awards program. The Smart Growth Awards recognize outstanding and innovative projects, plans and people from the San Diego/Tijuana region that advance the application of smart growth and sustainability principles in land use, and promote significant new ideas and perspectives into the region and the general real estate industry.

ULI defines smart growth and sustainability as the "design, construction and management of the built environment to be ecologically sound, economically viable, socially beneficial and culturally appropriate."

"Through smart growth, we can realize ULI's mission of helping shape the future of our region into communities that enhance our quality of life," said Mary Lydon, executive director of the Urban Land Institute San Diego/Tijuana District Council. "It is up to all of us to promote smart growth and support community livability in our region, and the smart growth awards are a great way to recognize community leaders and projects that do just that."

The keynote speaker for this year's Smart Growth Awards is Dr. Richard Farson, a psychologist, author and educator, and president of the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute. His new book, "The Power of Design: A Force for Transforming Everything," calls for an expanded role for design professionals to address our global society's most pressing needs.

This year ULI has partnered with the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) and the U.S. Green Building Council. As part of the partnership, the SDAF will present the Community Vision Award, co-sponsored with the County of San Diego. The award recognizes and promotes the implementation of smart growth, collaborative, sustainable and green building practices in revitalizing urban areas of San Diego County. The award recipient receives a minimum $25,000 beautification grant to the community in which the recognized project is located.

The intent of the award is to encourage the construction of projects that will serve as examples for future urbanization throughout the region.

Also new this year is a green expo hosted by the USGBC, which will showcase the best and brightest in sustainable products and services.

Past winners of Smart Growth Awards include Market Creek Plaza, a mixed-use, transit-oriented project that transformed 60 underutilized acres into a thriving area with 800 new proposed homes, 350,000 square feet of commercial and industrial development and 800 new jobs; the city of San Diego general plan update, which incorporates the City of Villages strategy focused on balanced, walkable neighborhoods with open space that respects the topography of our region; and ICON, a contemporary residential/mixed-use project and a model for high-density urban infill.

The Smart Growth Awards program will be held at Wonderhaus, located at 171 14th street in downtown San Diego. Wonderhaus is an adaptive reuse project for multitenant retail and office use. Built in 1924, Wonderhaus is located on the site of the iconic Wonder Bread factory buildings. Tickets to the Smart Growth Awards are $45 and can be purchased at ulisd.org.


Kovach is a senior account manager with TW2 Marketing Inc.

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