Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ULI may branch out

Local Michigan members of the Urban Land Institute’s Detroit District Council were planning to meet Wednesday night to lay the groundwork for establishing a branch in West Michigan.

The Detroit ULI and the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning brought their annual real estate forum to the Amway Grand Plaza today and Thursday.

“The idea to start what our national office refers to as a satellite district council in Grand Rapids came up about a year ago,” said Shannon Sclafani, administrator of ULI’s 400-member Detroit District Council, which was founded in 1999. 

ULI provides networking, education and sharing of best practices at 26 programs per year for its members, Scalfani said. Members include commercial real estate professionals, developers, real estate lawyers, public officials, city planners and others involved in the industry, she said.

Sclafani said the Detroit council has 16 members from West Michigan. The national ULI organization prefers satellite councils to have 50 to 75 members, so some local recruiting can be expected after tonight’s meeting, she added.

“One major advantage is that when ULI Detroit started out, there was no staff or support with this getting off the ground. Although I’m three hours away, they still have access to me for handling administrative duties,” Slafani said.

The U-M architecture school started the conference about 22 years ago, she added. It’s the first time it’s been held outside of Southeast Michigan and drew 250 participants.

—Elizabeth Slowik

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