North STARs are awarded to outstanding leaders.
Steve Poor, director
Development Services, Community Planning and Economic Development
Senior City Planner John Smoley nominated Poor for his outstanding leadership of CPED’s Development Services Division:
“Poor first began serving as CPED’s interim director of Development Services during the department’s January 2013 reorganization, and he immediately faced tough issues. Right then, CPED effectively doubled in size with the addition of Construction Code Services, Minneapolis Development Review and Business Licensing staff, not all of whom were thrilled to be separated from Regulatory Services. These changes occurred during a major internal reorganization: the separation of Planning into two new divisions, which was also not universally popular.
“As interim director of the brand new Development Services Division during the early stages of this transition, Poor was instrumental in establishing the division’s presence and ensuring a smooth transition for CPED’s customers and staff. Although Development Services represented only one of the department’s four divisions, it equaled the remaining three in sheer numbers of personnel. It included not only the vast majority of incoming Regulatory Services personnel but also the majority of planners assigned to the former Planning Division and the majority of CPED’s Public Service Center customer service staff, all of whom experienced substantial change during the reorganization.
“With more than 27 years of experience working for the City, Poor knows how to mobilize resources, make things happen and get results. Case in point has been his recent work in relation to the Minneapolis Armory. Neglected for decades, this building has undergone a dramatic turnaround under the ownership of a powerful developer with a reputation for challenging City regulations. Poor has maintained a close watch over development onsite. His decisions about when to encourage investment, when to issue citations and when to bring the Heritage Preservation Commission’s authority to bear have successfully facilitated the restoration of this city treasure in a historically appropriate manner with no public financing in this once mostly vacant section of downtown Minneapolis.
“Poor was appointed to serve as Development Services director permanently in 2015. The extremely smooth transition that followed was no surprise. Poor has devoted his career to public service for the City. Working his way up from intern to zoning inspector to zoning administrator to director of the City’s Development Services staff has given him an indepth knowledge of the people, procedures and policies driving Minneapolis’ strong economic and population growth. He maintains great rapport with applicants, elected officials and staff alike. Even the toughest customers seek him out for his fair but firm determinations. As the zoning administrator, Poor is the final arbiter (barring appeals) of zoning code interpretations, and he has proven to be quite comfortable handling this challenging role in a political environment, during both economic booms and recessions.
“Positively engaging more than 100 personnel located in separate buildings and frequently in the field is a challenging task, but Poor seems to welcome it. He knows everyone in his division and interacts with them all on a regular basis as projects demand, during his office hours or upon employees’ requests. He is extremely approachable and always willing to listen. He has made time to serve on CPED’s Labor Management Committee since its inception over a decade ago. Charged with resolving workplace issues not covered by union contracts, the committee has played a major role in addressing employee concerns. It has also led CPED’s response to the employee engagement survey, and Poor has personally suggested and implemented improvements in response to the survey results.
“For the past two years, Poor has led the staff responsible for ensuring over $1 billion of permitted construction is not only vibrantly designed but also safely built, in line with city and department goals. Before that, he served as zoning administrator, chief official in charge of ensuring the good urban design principles of the zoning code were translated into reality on a projectby-project basis. Most recently, Poor has overseen Development Services Division efforts to protect historic districts and landmarks emblematic of Minneapolis’ racial and religious diversity, helping to eliminate disparities in our heritage preservation program and better engage all segments of Minneapolis’ populace. That’s no surprise coming from a lifelong resident of the city who has a story about almost any Minneapolis building that you can name. “
Published Feb 22, 2017