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Anybody know a good planning consultant?

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
A few months ago I tried to convince my board that we needed to have a good downtown development plan. The idea went nowhere. During a discussion last night, almost out of nowhere, some members of the board suddenly came to the conclusion that we needed a downtown plan. Hmmm... not a bad idea.

We won't be using our usual consultant. Their work is as good as anyone's, and the person generally working for our community is excellent, but the board is concerned that we may not have the buy-in we need with the same people as in the past. We need fresh faces - somebody coming here for the first time.

I will be contacting a handful of firms that I know (and won't be contacting others). Any recommendations from The Throbbing Brain™? They should be convenient to Southeastern Wisconsin.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
I can think of one relatively close to you. Lets do lunch. :)
 
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16
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1
Just a suggestion, but maybe you could get a local uni's planning department to do a plan for you? I would only try schools that specifically focus on design studios, though.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
nerudite said:
Yeah, Cardinal... didn't you know that Chet has moved to the dark side? ;)
Who is this Chet you speak of? Has he ever posted on Cyburbia? ;)
 
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CityGrrl said:
Just a suggestion, but maybe you could get a local uni's planning department to do a plan for you? I would only try schools that specifically focus on design studios, though.
Local universities with planning departments typically compete with local private firms for many contracts. This is unfair to those firms as the university can underbid the contracts because they have lower overhead costs. They don't have to pay staff salaries and such because they have student workers. Unfortunately, in many cases, the quality of the product is not up to par.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
Adding to Planderellas comment about University help with plans, there is a Wisconsin firm that is notorious for using student labor to lower their costs. While that is great for that firm and the Cities who use them, it sucks for other consultants that have to bid on projects.
 
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Universities can do some great work. I have had the pleasure of working with some great schools that costs more than consultants, so be cautious on when working with them. I just worked with a great firm out of New York state that did a great job on a mixed use plan for some vacant land.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,371
Points
29
One little "correction." When I directed student-staffed projects, the overhead rate we were required to charge was about twice my current overhead rate as a consultant. Very few consultants also have to support a football team or administrators who do not contribute to the bottom line, you know.

I would not turn an entire CBD project over to students (they are not generally prepared to handle the most important aspects: marketing, business organization, etc), but I have seen some excellent work done by students that was too detailed (like an hourly parking survey of every space in a CBD, requiring as I recall 14 students to cover the ground) for most communities to pay consultants for. And on which I don't think a consultant is apt to make any money, anyway.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
We have gone this route before. A 1988 downtown plan was done by students under the faculty at UW-Madison. As were many plans of the era, it was far too superficial. It went into great detail on the facades of individual buildings, and had some nicely drawn pictures of pedestrian plazas, but utterly failed to address the underlying issues. More recently, the Geography Department here took a stab at the downtown as a class project. Some of the analysis was good and some was not, and the same for the ideas. I think it did spark the idea of having a professionally-written plan, so some good has come of it.
 

prudence

Cyburbian
Messages
688
Points
20
Chet said:
I can think of one relatively close to you. Lets do lunch. :)
Cardinal-

Seeing as I now work with a private firm located in your backyard (closer to you than Chet), WE should do lunch.

Chet...he's more than 40 miles from you ;)
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
prudence said:
Cardinal-

Seeing as I now work with a private firm located in your backyard (closer to you than Chet), WE should do lunch.

Chet...he's more than 40 miles from you ;)
Yes, but I have dozens of support staff, and you are definitely in our service area. My firm has a very good reputation. No one knows Prudences firm - but those blue haired waitresses do know about his firmness.... ;)
 

Rem

Cyburbian
Messages
1,524
Points
23
Cardinal I think you should speak to both Chet and Prudence then invent some cruel and completely bogus assessment task for them to perform so that you can rank them (say for example, make them arm wrestle).
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Rem said:
Cardinal I think you should speak to both Chet and Prudence then invent some cruel and completely bogus assessment task for them to perform so that you can rank them (say for example, make them arm wrestle).
I'd lose. Pictionary might be a better match up. Or maybe the AICP exam!
 
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