Brian Hooper is an attorney at Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon practicing contract and commercial litigation, government and administrative law and trial law.
He is also chairing the Urban Redevelopment Advisory Committee (URAC) established by Mayor Ashton Hayward to help guide the growth and development of downtown.
“Over the past three years, I’ve had several conversations with people about how the development of downtown Pensacola was being planned or was not being planned, as the case might be,” Hooper said. “My interest was made known to Mayor Hayward and he asked me to chair this committee.”
The committee was established in February to assist the Mayor in implementing the redevelopment of the CRA District, including downtown, the waterfront, and the surrounding neighborhoods.
“I was honored that he asked me and I believe that Mayor Hayward is making good decisions about the future development of downtown,” Hooper said.
As Hooper leads the URAC he will call upon the members—Dr. Ken Ford, Teresa Dos Santos, Christian Wagley, John Myslak, Stephanie Powell and Shana Neuhaus—for their own good decisions and truly collaborate.
“As far as changes go, I am approaching this task with an open mind,” Hooper said. “There are other members of the committee with a wealth of experience in this arena, so I see myself as the chief organizer and information gatherer for the committee.”
The future of Pensacola is still a bit fuzzy to Hooper, “The jury’s still out,” he said. But he does believe public-private partnerships will be helpful in providing the city’s future.
“Certain mechanisms such as public-private partnerships seem to work very well elsewhere,” he said. “I do think that if our elected leaders and business leaders can execute a smart plan, Pensacola’s future is limitless.”
Hooper also believes outside investment will improve Pensacola.
“Pensacola’s future success, especially downtown, lies in bringing outside investment to the community and encouraging local capital to invest in Pensacola,” he said.
Hooper notes the Studers, Pen Air Federal Credit Union, First Navy Bank and UWF as assets.
“We have some bright spots, like the Studers, Pen Air, First Navy, UWF and others who are investing in downtown Pensacola, but the committee’s job is to figure out the specific policy changes and particular project recommendations, that will get the ball rolling to attract new capital.”
Even as an import to Pensacola, Hooper knows that Pensacola has a long list of game changers and wants URAC to add to that list.
“Pensacola has a rich history of strong community leaders going back nearly a century,” he said. “I think that our committee’s efforts honor and build on all of the hard work and thoughtful planning that has come before.”
Because Hooper plucked Pensacola as to the city to settle in, he takes extra pride in it.
“I am not a Pensacola native, but my wife and I specifically chose to settle here and raise our family because Pensacola is one of the South’s most enjoyable coastal cities.”