In addition to his private development work, Ariston President Josh Fuhrer has extensive experience in development-related public sector work as an elected official, redevelopment commissioner, and a board member of several nonprofit organizations. Sitting at the intersection of the private and public sectors gives him a unique perspective on the development process and insight into how each sector can work more effectively with the other to achieve their goals.
Gresham City Council
Josh is the only member of the City Council in Gresham, Oregon, with professional experience in land use, planning, or development. Within just a few months of taking office, he was elected Vice Chair of the Gresham Redevelopment Commission, the urban renewal agency for the City.
As a city councilor, Josh is hands on when it comes to land use issues, helping to craft the city’s multifamily design standards, downtown parking strategy, big box retail ordinance, and Rockwood neighborhood design standards, and he is currently working on a comprehensive citywide housing strategy.
He also worked closely with staff to create a small business incentives program that included waivers of systems development charges, traffic impact fees, & business license fees, and the creation of a new storefront improvement program. Within the first four months of the program, 17 new businesses opened their doors in the most challenging economy in 80 years, and 37 businesses took advantage of the business license fee waiver.
In an effort to reduce the number of vacant, foreclosed homes in the city, Josh also worked with his fellow council members and city staff to develop a new homebuyer program. Dubbed “Come Home to Gresham,” the program used federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to help 20 families purchase vacant, foreclosed homes within four months. The program offered a $25,000 no-payment, no-interest loan for down payment assistance on foreclosed homes in the city.
Josh is helping to create a new image for Gresham, and he also serves as the council liaison to the City’s Planning Commission, Design Commission, and Historic Resources Subcommittee, and serves on the city’s Audit, Budget, and Investment Committees.
Gresham Redevelopment Commission
The Gresham Redevelopment Commission oversees all urban renewal efforts in the Rockwood urban renewal area, and Josh serves as the Vice Chair and liaison to the GRDC Advisory Committee.
As the most hands-on of the redevelopment commissioners, Josh provided leadership on issues and projects as varied as the new Plaza Del Sol children’s learning plaza, the Rockwood and Civic Neighborhood MAX station designs and associated public art, and streetscape design for a new street in the town center. He supported the development of a new $20 million Multnomah County courthouse in the Rockwood town center.
Josh is also working to help the city master-plan a 6.5 acre site in the center of the Rockwood town center, allowing a phased development of mixed-use buildings with housing, shops, offices, restaurants, and a public plaza along a light rail line. Josh’s experience as a developer in urban renewal areas informs his recommendations for urban renewal strategy to the city, and he has worked closely with local jurisdictional partners and community stakeholders to ensure that the community’s goals are carried forth in a thoughtful and responsible manner.
Gresham Center for the Arts Foundation
Prior to serving on the Gresham City Council, Josh served for three years on the board of directors of the Gresham Center for the Arts Foundation, during which time he served as the Foundation’s Vice President and project liaison to the city on the construction of a $2 million public arts plaza. The Plaza, completed in summer 2009, hosts community events including the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival, Party on the Plaza, Harvest Faire, Spirit of Christmas, the Columbia Symphony Orchestra’s Symphonic Safari, & various concerts and special events.
Josh served on the board of directors of Proud Ground (formerly the Portland Community Land Trust) for two years. PG is a community land trust dedicated to the creation and preservation of permanently affordable homeownership options to families of modest means in the Portland region. Proud Ground has helped over 100 families attain the goal of homeownership.