How do cities capture value from infrastructure projects and what lessons can government leaders and their private counterparts learn from public private partnerships and attempts at privatization? The Public Building Commission of Chicago on Wednesday hosted the Urban Land Institute’s Public Development Infrastructure Council’s (PDIC) session as part of ULI’s annual conference in Chicago for a morning of idea sharing and discussion.
PDIC members from around the country heard from transit and planning experts from the Chicago Transit Authority, Illinois Tollway Authority, Metropolitan Planning Council and Chicago Metropolitan Planning Agency. Also speaking was City of Chicago Deputy Mayor Steven Koch.
They gathered for a morning of panel discussions aimed at providing insight into how decisions can and should be made when it comes to public infrastructure projects and partnerships. They were joined by private sector planning and real estate consultants.
The panelists agreed that the public’s experience should be foremost in the mind of planners and government officials when deciding if privatization works and that public perception of these deals can make or break them.
But panelists also noted that privatization and partnerships can be successful when executed properly and that when done with more than just a goal of filling a budget gap, public private partnerships can add great value and offer many benefits to government and taxpayers.
“This very frank and informed discussion offered all of us great insight as we continue to look for innovative ways to finance and execute public infrastructure projects,” said Erin Lavin Cabonargi, Executive Director of the Public Building Commission who also serves as the local Program Co-Chair for ULI’s PDIC. “We agreed that our cities possess many great assets that can be leveraged in different ways to maximize private investment while still maintaining the public trust.” Lavin Cabonargi expressed thanks to the panelists for their participation. “We were very fortunate to attract such an impressive group that was willing to share knowledge, ideas and experiences.” PDIC members were later given overviews of some of Chicago’s premiere projects including Navy Pier, Maggie Daley Park, 31st Street Harbor and the River Walk.
The Public Building Commission of Chicago manages construction and renovation projects for the City of Chicago and its sister agencies. Mayor Rahm Emanuel serves as the PBC’s chairman. Erin Lavin Cabonargi serves as the Executive Director of the PBC. Additional information about the PBC and its projects can be found at www.pbcchicago.com. You can also follow the Public Building Commission of Chicago on Twitter: @PBCChi and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PBCChi