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THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT: The Built Environment 2020 with Ann Taylor

Ann Taylor has focused on leadership and innovation in real estate development, planning, design, and land use in her 30-year career building brands, engaging audiences, and creating community. For a number of years, Ann was Executive Director for  the Urban Land Institute, Houston and San Antonio.  She managed ULI panels focused on the Astrodome, Galveston hurricane recovery, transit-oriented development, and reviving underperforming commercial corridors. Ann was Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications for Midway for several years. Her newest venture, Wide Ranging + Co., provides brand and creative services for organizations focused on the built environment.

Ralph Bivins: This pandemic is changing our lives; it is impacting so many people.  Where are we right now?

Ann Taylor: We have to be optimistic. Even today, looking back at the 1918 influenza pandemic, we see how grim it was. But people got through it and they went on. We are in this historical moment. Consider what we have been through. For some people who are working from home, they have been doing it long enough that they have adapted to it. The people who are fortunate enough to have kept their jobs, that did not get laid off, they have been working so hard and pushing so hard because they have to prove that they are productive. As a result, employers have gotten a lot of productivity.

Ralph Bivins: People are buying homes in the suburbs and smaller markets.This is all a part of decentralizing.  And it’s going to happen more in 2021. What do you think?

Ann Taylor: Full disclosure. I love cities. I am an urban person to my core. I hope, and again, I’m being optimistic. I hope cities will be resilient and will continue to thrive. It is understandable. Sending people sprawling ever outward, putting them in individual automobiles, in the long run, will have a detrimental impact. I have seen actual studies by Johns Hopkins University which show that, in fact, people who live in dense urban environments have not suffered higher levels of mortality. Actually, dense environments report less mortality. This is what the research is showing. The emphasis is on behavior; what we do individually. Dense metropolitan areas are places where people can get better healthcare and access to greater medical expertise. What we know about human behavior and what we know about science shows us that science and behavior are often not even remotely related to each other.

Ralph Bivins: Real estate analysts say a lot of people are shopping for homes in rural areas. And this may be an indicator – the Houston Association of Realtors says people are shopping online and looking for homes during the pandemic; the number is up 70 percent from last year. Maybe people have nothing else to do but browse around residential websites.

Ann Taylor: My husband has a leisure time activity of showing me houses in Portland, Maine, and in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We have been looking at them, but will we move out of our urban apartment? No. Will we move to Portland, Maine, anytime soon? No, we won’t. We look at all kinds of things online. Many of these things are nothing to do with anything we do as part of our everyday behavior.

Ralph Bivins: Companies will be moving from downtown areas to the suburbs; perhaps, moving from New York to places like Omaha.

Ann Taylor: Companies are looking at things like satellite office locations, which was a trend back in the 1970s. At the time, they looked at the places where the CEOs and the decision makers and heads of companies lived and decided that the decisions were not made in the places where employees live. So they started to build developments in West Houston. What I think will happen now is more of a hybrid kind of thing with some people working at home. A lot of companies are doing split shifts. What will be our “business as usual?”  People are turning out to be resourceful and resilient. I am talking to you right now from a corner of my home office in the tiny apartment where I live. We are finding ways to adjust and adapt to doing things differently. This is very much my personal perspective, but I love to work with a team. I love informal interaction. In one of my jobs, not only did I have an open door policy, I didn’t even have a door.  I loved having people dropping in. Sometimes, we’d just shoot the breeze, but we also bounced questions off each other.

To hear The Ralph Bivins Project session with Ann Taylor click here:


Sept. 24, 2020  Realty News Report Copyright 2020


File: THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT – with Ann Taylor Copyright 2020


File: ULI, Urban Land Institute, Wide Ranging + Co. Pandemic. 9-24-20 THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT – with Ann Taylor

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