AFIRE Podcast #68: Shock Paddles for Cities

(Featuring Frances Mennone, Advisor, Consultant Cross Street Partners, and Bruce Katz, Co-Founder, The New Localism)

When the pandemic first spread across the globe in early 2020, real estate and urban experts collectively began to ask: What will this crisis mean for cities?

And now, as the world now deals with the latter stages of the pandemic, with many cities now cautiously entering a recovery phase, what have we learned, and how should CRE investors think about the future of urbanism?

In April 2020, AFIRE’s CEO (and host of the AFIRE Podcast) Gunnar Branson joined Frances Mennone of Cross Street Partners and Bruce Katz of New Localism to ask—early in the COVID crisis—what it will take for cities to reopen and reactivate their economies. (See: “Re-Opening the Economy and the Complexities of Downtowns” at

Today, more than a year since their initial conversation, Mennone and Katz join the AFIRE Podcast to explore what cities have learned, and what they still need to do, in order to build back better—even as the pandemic enters its more muddled “delta phase.”

According to Mennone, “Cities are humming organisms, and when you stop them, you will need shock paddles to get them started again.”

Listen now on your favorite podcast service (Apple, Google, Spotify) for the full episode.


Frances Mennone serves as an advisor and consultant to Cross Street Partners development team.

Prior to Frances moving to her advisory role at CSP, she was the Director of Strategic Partnerships. A seasoned leader with rich experience managing organizational stakeholders, Frances is recognized for strategically building ideas and developments of significance. She has a reputation for solving problems for large-scale projects that are challenging and complex and that involve numerous, often competing interests. She works tirelessly at building relationships and connecting project partners with the right entities to ensure success. Her passion runs deep and defines the way she approaches every project.

Prior to joining Cross Street Partners, Frances was a consultant with Cross Street Partners through FKM, the consultancy firm she founded. Notably she was also a member of the team that tackled the early stages of the redevelopment of Champion Paper in Hamilton, Ohio. This adaptive reuse project will be the site of the largest indoor sports complex in the United States. FKM’s projects included layering specialized finance into developments already underway, sourcing new market tax credits, compiling public private financing for recreational trail networks and riverfront development.

Frances earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Xavier University in Cincinnati. She is a frequent speaker on the topics of finance and complex projects.

Bruce Katz is the Co-Founder (with Jeremy Nowak) of New Localism Advisors. The mission of the firm is to help cities design, finance and deliver transformative initiatives that promote inclusive and sustainable growth.

Katz regularly advises global, national, state, regional and municipal leaders on public reforms and private innovations that advance the well-being of metropolitan areas and their countries.

Katz is the co-author of The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism (Brookings Institution Press, 2018) and The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy (Brookings Institution Press, 2013).  Both books focus on the rise of cities and city networks as the world’s leading problem solvers.

Katz was the inaugural Centennial Scholar at the Brookings Institution from January 2016 to March 2018, where he focused on the challenges and opportunities of global urbanization.  Prior to assuming this role, Bruce J. Katz was a vice president at the Brookings Institution and founding Director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

Before joining Brookings, Katz served as chief of staff to U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros and was the senior counsel and then staff director for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs. After the 2008 presidential election, Bruce co-led the housing and urban transition team for the Obama administration and served as a senior advisor to new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary Shaun Donovan, for the first 100 days of the Administration.

Katz is a visiting Professor at the London School of Economics. He gives dozens of lectures and presentations annually before public, corporate, civic and university audiences across the world.  In 2006, he received the prestigious Heinz Award in Public Policy for his contributions to understanding the “function and values of cities and metropolitan areas and profoundly influencing their economic vitality, livability and sustainability.” Katz is a graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School.




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