Polina Bakhteiarov (she/her/hers) is a racial justice-centered, transdisciplinary metropolitan development leader with more than a decade of experience leveraging the market potential of our cities’ assets through public-private partnerships. Originally a public servant with more recent experience in the non-profit and private sectors, Polina has worked in real estate, business development, and large-scale infrastructure preservation from both the government and implementation fronts. She began her career leading redevelopment and community asset building and organizing projects in Lawrence, MA and New Orleans, LA. Polina then went on to expand capacity and capital for small businesses in Washington, DC and Newark, NJ, investing over $15 million in 150 retail shops and scaling minority- and woman-owned business enterprises (M/WBEs). She oversaw a $1 billion real estate portfolio for the Mayor of Washington, DC and worked to revitalize severely distressed public housing in the nation’s capital and at the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), rehabbing and preserving 5,600 units with over 12,000 tenants in-place. Having managed and closed residential and mixed-use transactions in multiple Northeast markets, Polina’s total deal volume is quickly approaching $2 billion.
Currently, as Senior Acquisitions Director at The National Housing Partnership (NHP) Foundation – a leading national nonprofit affordable housing provider – Polina originates opportunities for affordable, mixed-income, and permanent supportive housing development with a focus on New York and New Jersey. She previously worked as Vice President of Development at Omni New York, a national top 50 affordable housing owner-developer, where she managed a 900-unit pipeline of new construction and acquisition-rehab projects in four Northeast states. Prior to joining Omni, Polina was Interim Senior Vice President of Business Development at Invest Newark, the economic development corporation for the largest city in New Jersey. While there, she spearheaded the organization's rebranding, amplified the rapid expansion of the municipal internet service provider (Newark Fiber), steered the cross-subsidization strategy for the nascent Newark Land Bank, launched the first cooperative business in the city (Newark Paper Coop), and strengthened programming for M/WBE growth and development. During her time as NYCHA’s inaugural Director of Preservation, Polina launched New York City's public housing recapitalization initiative known as “PACT” - Permanent Affordability Commitment Together. Within this role, she established and led the NYCHA Preservation Team in repositioning a 10-year pipeline of 62,000 dilapidated public housing apartments via subsidy conversion to Section 8 project-based funding to address $13 billion in unmet capital needs. Before relocating to New York in 2016, Polina served on the District of Columbia Mayor’s economic development team in multiple real estate and business development capacities. Among her myriad of roles, she was the Executive Director of DC’s retail revitalization initiative called Great Streets, an aptly named program focused on pairing small business support with catalytic anchor projects to drive private investment to thirteen commercial corridors. Polina joined the Government of the District of Columbia as a Capital City Fellow in 2011, working on a broad portfolio of mayoral initiatives from sustainability planning to emergency services resource management.
Polina is also Co-Founder & Managing Partner of a racial justice-centered community development consulting firm called ASAP Solutions. Through her consultancy, Polina provides technical assistance to government agencies, non-profit organizations, and triple-bottom-line businesses in the areas of economic development, community engagement, and capacity building. She is currently advising public housing authorities across the country on strategic planning, asset recapitalization, and portfolio repositioning. Polina’s civic involvement centers in leadership coaching, community mental health advocacy, and increasing racial and gender inclusion in STEM fields. She is a national speaker on affordable housing for organizations such as the Council of Development Finance Agencies, the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association, Enterprise Community Partners, and the American Planning Association. Polina earned bachelor of science degrees in planning and civil engineering, as well as a master in city planning, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
This course examines key ideas in the history and theory of planning. We start with some challenges of 21st-century urbanism to activate our conversations about the history and theory of planning. Does the historical and theoretical apparatus of planning equip us to deal with 21st-century urban formations and problems? Are the forms of contemporary urbanism categorically different from those of the past? Are the techniques and methods of planning bound to the American context, or are they also suitable for other social and political contexts?
The syllabus is organized in part as a great books course. We will read a series of classic books in the history and theory of planning by major thinkers whose ideas have had a significant impact on urban form, theory, and planning. They include: Daniel Burnham on the metropolitan idea; Le Corbusier on the modernist city; Jane Jacobs on pedestrian-centered urbanism; and Ian McHarg on environmental planning, among others.
Another set of readings and class sessions will focus on the techniques of planning on which planners have grounded their claims of professional expertise. Our goal is to understand the history, use and abuse of the planner’s toolkit. Our topics include: data surveys and the framing of planning as a social science; advocacy planning; building codes; and zoning.