Gregory Heller is executive director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), which leverages the city’s assets for redevelopment opportunities, provides financing, and focuses on bringing blighted and vacant land back into active use.
“My work largely deals with the nexus of real estate and social impact—how the places we build can affect our communities for the better,” Heller says. “We recently added ‘social impact’ as a scoring factor when selecting developers to build on publicly owned land. And we’re now looking at ways that the public sector can provide off-market financial products to unlock private capital for tough community development deals. Finally, we’re focusing on building cross-sector partnerships to foster collaborative investment approaches.”
Throughout his rapidly advancing career trajectory—which recently included writing the book Ed Bacon: Planning, Politics, and the Building of Modern Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania Press) and speaking at a TEDx conference—Heller has relied on ULI.
“The successful future of our urban places requires innovation and sharing of ideas,” he says. “Thanks to ULI, wherever I go, I can find people who are passionate about the future of our urban environment. It’s a pretty powerful thing when you think about it.”