Real Estate, Finance and Urban Development (6): The Role of Real Estate Developers in Urban Development

Type: Virtual Paper
Sponsor Groups: Economic Geography Specialty Group, China Specialty Group, Urban Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM (PST)
Room: Virtual 38
Organizers: Anthony Boanada-Fuchs
Chairs: Anthony Boanada-Fuchs

Call for Submissions

The panel organizers are particularly interested in thick case study analysis that highlight one or several roles real estate developers play within urban development. The roles include but are not limited to (i) the involvement in the discourse, vision and idea making of cities and important urban projects, (ii) formal and informal influences in policymaking, (iii) strategic roles in the elaboration of urban plans and strategy, (iv) the building of cities and urban space. A second interest is on the analysis of the financial mechanisms of real estate projects as well as strategies and decision-making processes within real estate firms and their broader connections to international finance.


As the world is predominantly - and increasingly - urban, cities will be essential to advance global prosperity and answering the great development challenges of our times. Urban development is driven by decision-making processes that transgress sectoral and geographic confinement and involve a wide range of stakeholders. While politicians or planners may often at best set out the broad spatial and functional visions of a city, other actors are in charge of putting these into reality: cities are foremost a private enterprise (Molotch and Logan 1987).

Still in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, triggered by international real estate practices, the time may be ripe to revisit urban theories and assess their capacity to capture the implications of the global financialisation of real estate markets, the increasing dependence of value-capture and private finance in local urban planning systems, the privatization of urban space and the proliferation of spatial injustice. Real estate developers provide an important entry point as they are intimately linked to these processes.

Real estate developers are central agents of change and influence urban development throughout the world. Despite the centrality of these stakeholders in steering urbanization processes and their spatial manifestation, the existing body of literature remains thin (Adams & Tiesdell, 2010; Coiacetto, 2009). One of the first edited books on development and developers was written by Guy and Henneberry (2002) and already revealed a broad range of approaches to improve our institutional understanding of real estate markets (see also Fainstein 1994). Currently, the theoretical and practical insights on developers remain fragmented with little dialogue among their many parts.

The panel aims at uniting scholars interested in the geography of profits and politics that underlies the creation of our built environment. We invite contributions that highlight the role of developers in urban development in the Global North as well as South.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Matthew Anderson*, Eastern Washington University, Developer Cartels and the Pursuit of Class Monopoly Rent: The Case of Portland’s Pearl District 15 4:40 PM
Presenter Kevin Keenan*, Rowan University, Mahbubur Meenar, Rowan University, Theorizing while a Neighborhood is on Fire: The Planner’s Role in Un-Development Abstract 15 4:55 PM
Presenter Youngjun Kim*, University of Illinois - Chicago, Unfolding expeditious and massive scale of urban transformation in post-global financial crisis (GFC) of 2007-08 era through the lens of portfolio urbanism: the case of West Loop, Chicago 15 5:10 PM
Presenter Zachary Hyde*, , The Forms of Capital in Real Estate Development: A Bourdieusian Agenda 15 5:25 PM
Presenter Joel Jennings*, Saint Louis University, Francis Reyes, United Nations Development Program , "They Know More About You Than You Do": Theorizing the Role of Site Selectors in the Context of Local Geographies of Economic Development 15 5:40 PM

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