Saint Model Outcome: counter opposition to urban renewal, find your own support

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By Jay Vincent,
Regional Vice President- Midwest, The Saint Consulting Group

In the second in a series of case studies, this Saint Model Outcome looks at urban redevelopment.

urban-renewelFor five years our client tried to secure approval to redevelop an entire city block of retail and commercial office space. Community leaders had initially favored the redevelopment and expansion, but then withdrew their support. Several enhanced project designs had been proposed over the years, each meeting with increased community resistance – particularly from a historical society seeking to preserve the dated, existing 1950s structure. By the end of the fifth year, local opposition was firmly entrenched.

We developed a two-part approach focused on assisting the client and combating community resistance.

To aid the client we conducted research on the ground and discovered that the client’s attorney had misinterpreted the zoning regulations. The client could have built ‘by right’ from the beginning wasting five years in costly and unnecessary applications. We subsequently discovered the attorney was not liked by the community. He was replaced.

From a political perspective, we assembled our own group of support within the community by collecting more than 2,000 petition signatures. We then conducted a community survey on redeveloping the block of stores, located in a busy urban setting. Data gathered from the polling suggested we characterize the opposition as unreasonable and militant. Then we worked closely with the mayor and city hall to inform the public of the project’s benefits.

In a major tactical move designed to deflate the opposition’s hold on the community, we formed our own historical society to challenge the findings in question. Additionally, a media campaign was mounted in which residents wrote letters to the editor and developed an informational website.

The results were clear. Within one year from our involvement, the store expansion was approved.

Jay Vincent is regional vice president, Midwest, for The Saint Consulting Group,, phone 312 212 8889

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