The HRI Vision
by Pres Kabacoff, Eddie Boettner, and Tom Leonhard; with James P. Farwell
Revitalizing Cities tells the story of one of America’s most innovative real estate companies. Emerging in New Orleans during the 1980s, HRI Properties’ early work in neighborhoods and communities in that city forged its mission, making way for it to become a leader in revitalizing historic neighborhoods that have been abandoned and left vacant.
HRI’s mission and its philosophy of creating diverse, vibrant, sustainable communities infuse new life into old cities. Attracting an imaginative team, the company’s bold leadership has put HRI on the cutting edge of the New Urbanism, a movement that favors walkable urban neighborhoods with a high density of mixed-income residences and a blending of uses for work places, shops, hotels, and restaurants. HRI’s walkable urban approach capitalizes on the heritage of cities like New Orleans.
But this is more than the story of an innovative company. It is the story of its two pioneers, Pres Kabacoff and Edward B. Boettner, and how they saw in the historic Warehouse District of New Orleans a unique opportunity to inject new life into an old neighborhood. They applied talent and energy, and imaginatively used public-private partnerships in launching a company that today ranks under the leadership of Kabacoff—who now serves as Executive Chairman—CEO Tom Leonhard, and Chief Administrative Officer Eddie Boettner in the top tier of United States real estate companies. No less important have been the individual stories of the executive team that have made this company of nineteen hundred employees among the nation’s stand-out business stories.
HRI Properties got its start before the 1984 Louisiana World’s Fair, when Boettner and Kabacoff teamed up to adaptively re-use and restore first the Federal Fibre Mills building and then other properties in New Orleans’s historic Warehouse District. Once a thriving commercial neighborhood, shifts in the shipping business had left the area dilapidated. Where others saw blight, Boettner and Kabacoff envisioned opportunity.
In building HRI, they embarked upon an adventure that presented obstacles and risks that would have daunted most people. Driven by a vision for diverse, vibrant, sustainable neighborhoods and communities, they helped forge imaginative public-private partnerships, attracted investors who recognized the energy and talent of the company’s management team and supporting staff, and built a nationally renowned enterprise that now employs almost two thousand people respected for their passion, cohesion, and esprit.
Revitalizing Cities gives readers an inside view of HRI Properties as it explores its history and philosophies, the people behind them, and the architecture and cityscapes that resulted from their vision, while also profiling the people who have benefited from living in the revitalized neighborhoods and the positive affect HRI’s efforts have had on these communities.
Hardcover, 208 pp., ©2016