James Goodell, the founding chairman of ULI Los Angeles and president of Public Private Ventures (PPV), a real estate and planning firm, died Sunday morning at his home in Pasadena, California, after a long battle with stomach cancer. In addition to his wife, Nancy, he is survived by his children Josh and Melissa, and five grandchildren.
An active member of ULI since 1995, Goodell was instrumental in developing ULI’s District Council program, serving on the District Council Chairs Advisory Group and the District Council Advisors committees. In a recent letter to Goodell, ULI CEO Patrick Phillips called him a “true trailblazer” and an “inspirational force” for the District Council program.
“Under your leadership, the District Council program became recognized as a powerful avenue for driving change at the local level,” Phillips wrote. “Today, our 51 District Councils across North America are a constant reminder of your local advocacy.”
Goodell was a ULI trustee from 1995 to 2001, served on six Advisory Services Panels, and was an active member of the Small Scale, Public/Private Partnership, and Development Regulations Product Councils. Goodell was also a contributor to the ULI Foundation Annual Fund for over ten years.
Goodell’s 40-year career began after he earned graduate degrees in architecture and city planning from the University of Pennsylvania. After graduate school, he moved to Washington D.C., where he was active in the civil rights movement as a community organizer in the Johnson administration. After settling in Los Angeles, Goodell became a consultant to state and local governments on public asset management, advising state leaders to transform a state mental hospital in Camarillo into California State University Channel Islands, according to Donald Brackenbush, Goodell’s former partner at PPV.
Goodell also played a significant role in the redevelopment of urban districts throughout southern California, including Old Pasadena, the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market and the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Under his leadership, PPV specialized in redeveloping properties on university campuses and recently acquired a dozen new campus properties to redevelop housing and research facilities at California community colleges.
Brackenbush, Goodell’s friend and colleague since their days at Penn, described Goodell as a fierce advocate for ideas he strongly believed in, including ULI’s District Council program.
“Jim had a very curious intellect and that stayed with him until the end,” Brackenbush said. “Our working relationship and our friendship always included spirited – sometimes very spirited – and frank discussions that we both valued. He was unique and I will miss him.”
A celebration of Goodell’s life will be held August 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Goodell family’s home in Pasadena.