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Community Engagement Strategies Done Right

These developers and planners are making it look easy by rallying positive and constructive feedback from neighbors without breaking a sweat.

1. JBG Smith — Central District at Crystal City

Arlington, VA

Central District at Crystal City

Washington DC’s largest real estate developer is embarking on plans to make the office-heavy neighborhood of Crystal City a more vibrant place to work, live, and play. As part of the approvals process for a new mixed-use development, they reached out to the public online—asking people what would make them likely to spend time in a new courtyard and retail area. After posting more than 140 comments online and by text message in just three weeks, several residents came to the next public meeting to express enthusiastic support for the game-changing plan.

2. Community Arts Resources — Glendale Public Art Master Plan

Glendale, CA

Glendale Public Art Master Plan

Community Arts Resources was tasked with creating the first public art master plan for the large LA suburb of Glendale—in three languages across 30 square miles. They used an interactive online map to pinpoint existing art and solicit public input on where and how to incorporate new art. Over the course of last fall, the map site saw more than 2,500 visits and 400 community comments. Hundreds of people have contributed to the plan at events, on the website, and by text message from signs in three languages posted at key intersections. Among the ideas: celebrate and remember Glendale’s immigrant history, make statements against violence and discrimination, and provide canvases for local youth. Thanks to great planning and inclusive tech, the master plan is set to be unveiled in a couple of weeks.

3. Lake Union Partners — The Midtown Block

Seattle, WA

The Midtown Block

Lake Union Partners is poised to create one of Seattle’s first inclusive, mixed-use developments in the city’s Central District. The developer reached a unique agreement to co-develop the site with a nonprofit representing Seattle’s historically African-American neighborhood. As part of their public outreach, they’re using an interactive website to ask neighbors how a new public square could best serve the area and celebrate local culture. In less than a month, the site has garnered over 300 community comments—and Lake Union Partners has gathered hyper-local data to inform decisions about future retail elements.

coUrbanize is community outreach technology for real estate development and municipal planning projects. See what we’ve been up to at or drop us a line at

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