US Mayor Article

Charleston (SC) Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Is First Recipient of ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionary Urban Development

July 17, 2000


Charleston (SC) Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. has been selected to receive the first annual Urban Land Institute J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionary Urban Development.

ULI Chairman J. Ronald Terwilliger announced that Mayor Riley will receive the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize in recognition of his contribution to Charleston's renaissance over the past 25 years and his national leadership on urban design and community revitalization issues.

Mayor Riley is a past-president of The U.S.Conference of Mayors. In Seattle during The Conference's Annual Meeting June 9 to 13, Mayor Riley received the first-ever President's Award from outgoing Conference President and Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb.

The ULI J.C. Nichols Prize recognizes a person representing an institution whose career demonstrates a commitment to the highest standards of responsible development. The $100,000 prize honors the legacy of legendary Kansas City, Missouri, developer J.C. Nichols, a founding ULI member credited with creating one of the most notable shopping center and country club communities begun in the 1920s. The ULI J.C. Nichols prize will be awarded to Mayor Riley in Kansas City this October, during a celebration marking the city's 150th anniversary.

Mayor Riley was selected by a jury of five renowned urban experts: jury chairman Robert C. Larson, managing director of Lazard Freres in New York and chairman of the ULI Foundation; Robert Campbell, FAIA, architectural critic for the Boston Globe, Cambridge, Mass.; Harvey Gantt, FAIA, partner, Gantt Huberman Architects, Charlotte, N.C.; Alex Krieger, professor in practice of urban design, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, Mass.; and Jaquelin Robertson, partner, Cooper Robertson and Partners, New York.

"Mayor Riley's selection for the ULI J.C. Nichols prize reflects his extraordinary contribution to Charleston's economic and social well-being," Larson said. "Through his leadership, Charleston has achieved an urban revival that sets the standard for many cities throughout the United States and demonstrates how the public sector and the private sector can work together to advance the common good. And, through his involvement with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Mayors Institute for Urban Design, he has been a tireless and persuasive advocate of enlightened urban development policies and practices," Larson said.

Since Mayor Riley was first elected as Charleston's mayor in 1975, the city has achieved a substantial decrease in crime, revitalized its historic downtown district, created a highly successful waterfront park, increased its affordable housing stock, and experienced dramatic growth in its Spoleto Festival U.S.A., a world class arts festival held each spring.

Mayor Riley is regarded as an expert on urban design and livability issues. He was a founder of the Mayor's Institute for City Design and has provided visionary advice and counsel on urban design issues to mayors across the United States.

"I am very honored to have been selected to receive the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with the citizens of Charleston to comprehensively enhance our city's design and livability," Mayor Riley said. "I am also very proud of the work of the Mayors Institute on City Design and the positive impact it has had on cities throughout America. Our nation, now, more than any time in its history, needs well-designed and beautiful cities. The Mayors Institute is a powerful tool toward that end."

Through the use of innovative public-private partnerships, Mayor Riley led the dramatic revitalization of downtown Charleston's King Street, including the development of Charleston Place, a major hotel and retail complex and an award-winning visitors center. "Mayor Riley has put in place all the ingredients to make Charleston a great place to live, work and visit," Larson said.

The ULI J.C. Nichols Prize was established to be the most prestigious and respected award in the land use planning and development community, explained ULI President Richard Rosan. "This award is designed to encourage developers, redevelopment planners and community leaders to think profoundly about how urban development affects the quality of life in our neighborhoods. We want to motivate them to use their developments to re-ignite strong community values, spirit and cohesiveness," Rosan said.

The Prize seeks to spotlight "cutting edge" individuals or organizations employing innovative processes, techniques and insights to obtain the highest quality development practices and policies. "Through the ULI J.C. Nichols Prize, we are seeking to reward the rarified individuals who provide unique leadership by inspiring urban development that enhances our quality of life," Rosan said.

While the Prize encourages creativity, it also recognizes the core principles of quality espoused by J.C. Nichols, Rosan noted. Nichols, a city planner and developer, is widely regarded as one of America's most influential entrepreneurs in land use during the first half of the twentieth century.

Nichols pioneered development of sustainable residential neighborhoods and the automobile-oriented shopping center, which became the post-war shopping mall. In the 1920s, he initiated mass-market quality suburban neighborhoods, built for permanence. Attesting to his enduring legacy in Kansas City are the Country Club district, a model community of beautiful homes; the Country Club Plaza, a 77-year-old shopping center and multi-use development; and numerous well-preserved suburban communities south of downtown Kansas City.

The ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionary Urban Development is funded by an endowment donated by the family of J.C. Nichols. The program is directed by a management committee including ULI representatives and members of the Nichols family. "Our goal is for this award to be a highly visible symbol focusing public attention on the importance of true visionary community development, reinforcing quality of life and smart growth issues for the century ahead," Rosan said.

The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported and directed by its members. Its mission is to provide responsible leadership in the use of land in order to enhance the total environment. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 16,000 members and associates representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

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