formulated thought or opinion | Merriam websters dictionary

Sharing ideas.  Gained through four decades asking ‘why?’  To help audiences think differently or create a community call-to-action.  Get my ideas three ways:

Speak.  Keynote or in-house training? Inspired stories and real solutions.  Spark a conversation about how to  ‘develop different’.

Teach. Interactive studio/ class lectures for real estate or design courses. Ask about the small case study in managing risk.

Write. Provocative articles, white papers and now Building Small. In-depth ideas and the research behind them.  Available below.  

“It’s no surprise that a book on small-scale development has come from one of real estate’s big thinkers.

—Ed McMahon | Senior Fellow for Sustainable Development

Upcoming Events



3 | An Introduction to Building Small  | ULI Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

5 | Building Small + Real Estate Development| NC State, Raleigh NC

7 | Building Small vs Big  | ULI Triangle District Council, Raleigh NC

13/14  | St. Helena Technical Advisory Panel |  ULI San Francisco

14  | Unlocking the Potential of MMH

SPUR San Francisco

30/31 | MRED Lectures and Case Studies | U of Miami, MRED+U, Miami, FL


11-14 | Building Small | Downtown Colorado Inc Annual Conference | Loveland, CA

23 | Emerging Developer Program  | Richmond, CA

27 | Housing Innovation Conference| Denver, CO


4-6 | SSDF#19 | Philadelphia, PA (Sign up to receive early notice)


6-8 | SSDF#20 | Savannah, GA  (Sign up to receive early notice)

Notable Prior Events 

TEDx Sonoma County 

Keynote | ULI San Antonio Leadership Luncheon

Small Scale Developer Forum #18 |  Nashville, TN

Emerging Developers Keynote | Richmond, CA

University Lectures + Case Study Studios

MIT Center for Real Estate

NC State University

SMU Cox School of Business

Presidio School of Management

Tulane University

UC Berkeley – MRED+D

Univerity of Miami – MRED+U

Order the RiverHouse Case Study for classroom instruction


I Found My Tribe

July 2022 | My conversation with  crowdfunding innovator Eve Picker as we riff about all things Small | LISTEN

The Impact of Small 

January 2022 | My fast paced interview with coworking thought leader Jamie Russo  | VIEW

August 2022 |My conversation with Nick Redding about the intersection of Small and preservation | LISTEN


TEDx Sonoma talk on making Small Big!

March 2022 | Jim reminds us of what is truly important and the joy we get from the small things in life | VIEW

INDUSTRY Keynote ULI San Antonio

July 2022 | Following publication of Building Small, the what and why of Small and how to get started as a Small Developer | VIEW

ULI Minnesota Housing Conference

July 2021 | Jim shares lessons from Building Small and the connection with Missing Middle Housing. | VIEW


economics of BUILDING SMALL 

March 2020 | Key lessons and value of small incremental development as an economic development tool. | VIEW


September 2020 |  A community primer on what makes us the term ‘housing’ and its costs | VIEW


August 2015 | Findings to the question ‘does Resilience vary depending on community size and location? | VIEW



My  presentations combine a conversational and accessible style with a clear framework and specific examples. Using either the UrbanGreen platform for sustainable and resilient real estate education, or CRAFT Development for small scale incremental development tools and techniques. I strive to ensure my audience leaves informed and excited about making positive change in the built environment.


My  real world experience as a developer, combined with years of consulting makes for provocative and inspired studio course lectures, crits and case study exercises.  Using my HBS style Case Study, graduate students ʻliveʻ the life of a small developer and have to address the challenges of managing risks associated with Small.

“…one of my top book recommendations for anyone who has approached me with interest in development. I’m beyond thrilled for the success of this book.

—Sam Day | Samuel Day Architects


Articles, white papers and now Building Small, provide the written form for sharing or exploring ideas in more depth.

Building Small

2021 | The seminal book that defines the what, why and how of small scale, incremental development. | MORE ABOUT BUILDING SMALL

Seeing Small

2018 | Contribution to Main Street America’s annual report, sharing lessons learned from over 14 cities. | READ


2015 | White paper for ULI exploring how resilience changes by community size and location | READ

Evolution of the Planned Community

2011 | Thought paper that looks at how Planned Communities are likely to change in the next decade. | READ

Reinventing Real Estate

2010 | A look at the opportunity for more responsible real estate investing coming out of the 2008 downturn | READ

Developing Sustainable Planned Communities

2007 | Contributions to book that served as an early roadmap for incorporating sustainability into the community development process | PURCHASE

Greenfield Development Without Sprawl

2004 | White paper that tackled the question ‘can planned communities be built without adding to sprawl? | READ


1995| A look at creating more affordable housing in expensive resort communities as a way to ensure long term viability of the local economy | READ

“My Strengths Finder™ profile says I am fascinated by ideas and enjoy digging through complexity to connect seemingly disparate things in elegantly simple ways. This is reflected in my writings and presentations as I try to show different approaches to solving thorny issues in an enlightening and educational manner.”

ULI Advisory Services Panel Chair 2011
Moscow, Russia