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Change Agent: Eric Goldstein of the King of Prussia District

January 30, 2018

Source, Philadelphia Business Journal, Natalie Kostelni

One might think that when compiling a list of those disrupting real estate and economic development, a roadblock if not a dead end might be right around the corner. Change doesn’t come with much frequency to those sectors but change is afoot in real estate and economic development. Here is one of the local leaders on the vanguard of that change.

Eric Goldstein, executive director, King of Prussia District

Goldstein arrived at King of Prussia District in 2011 as its founding executive director. With backing of the business community, Goldstein has attempted to pull King of Prussia out of its vehicle-dependent, concrete suburban past with a number of aggressive and forward thinking initiatives. For example: zoning of an old business and industrial park was changed to permit a mix of uses and denser development that is pedestrian-friendly; implementing a phased development of a linear park that will enliven a busy roadway; a series of events that embrace a sense of community. One of projects that the organization has been spearheading under Goldstein’s leadership that may be the biggest game-changer is extending the Norristown High Speed Line to King of Prussia.

What drives you?
I am educated in the fields of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning & Design. So, professionally, I am driven by opportunities to improve people’s lives through thoughtful community planning and design. Personally, I tend to be driven by the desire to continually outperform expectations. I am motivated by the challenge of constantly trying to raise the bar. I like the quote, ‘What you do anytime, is what you do every time.’ Even the most mundane tasks such as mowing the lawn or washing your dishes should be done with an eye toward quality and a high level of care.

Why do you feel the fundamental need to change things?
I am a Sagittarius. If you believe in astrology, the need for constant change is in my blood. But I don’t think that I necessarily pursue change for change sake. I like to think that I approach change as an opportunity to improve the things I truly believe need improving, whether professional or personal. I am not a person that tends to be content with the status quo.

How do you see the future of the region?
I see a future where political, financial and policy decisions are viewed through a regional lens that helps advance the entire metropolitan area as a whole. I see a future where political boundaries become blurred and transportation, public education, tax policy decisions and more become part of the push for advanced national and international competitiveness. I know that the Philadelphia region has improved in the past decade but so has nearly all of the competing metro regions nationally. We need to keep the pedal to the metal to stay ahead of the competition and we need to continually seek leadership from those with a regional perspective in order to truly advance the ball.

How receptive is the region to fundamental change?
Philadelphia is a very conservative region and I think, as a result, is slow to impart fundamental change. There are some fundamental changes, however, that, if made, would significantly advance the competitiveness of our region, all of them involving a regional conversation that transcends political boundaries. Improving public transportation and investing more in the design, construction and maintenance of public open space would be high among them. I would also like to see funding and policies put in place to reduce the number of citizens living in poverty and would like to see tax policies in the city AND suburbs that are less restrictive and lend themselves to stronger job growth and economic opportunity for all.

Is it easier or harder to invoke change here?
I do not know what it’s like to invoke change in other parts of the country relative to our region. In this region, however, I have worked in the city and in the suburbs. I have worked in New Jersey (Mercer County), Philadelphia and Montgomery County. No matter where you are, it is hard to invoke change, but not impossible. If you see the need for change (transportation, tax policy, zoning, care of public spaces, quality of public schools, etc.), and I do, I believe there are ways to make significant headway. It is a long process and it takes intense discipline and unwavering dedication, but it can be done. I am optimistic in this regard and will continue to invoke change where I believe it will help the region.