Tom Neary is Vice President of Business Development for Skanska, a diversified global contractor whose civil group is building the Expo Line Phase 2 from Culver City to Santa Monica.
Neary has spent the majority of his career working in real estate planning, design, and construction in both the public and private sectors, and has been primarily involved in institutional and residential development, including focusing on in-fill housing design standards and the adaptive reuse of older urban industrial and commercial structures for residential and mixed-use development.
He is affiliated with a variety of business and community organizations, including the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, the Urban Land Institute’s Los Angeles District Council, the California Preservation Foundation, the Santa Monica Conservancy, Santa Monica Community College Associates, Santa Monica YMCA, and LAMP Community of Los Angeles.
Skanska has decided to support the 2014 State of the City event as a major sponsor. What is the value of this event?
The event has always had a nice cross-section of those individuals, groups, and businesses interested in the city’s wellbeing. The State of the City event is an excellent place for Skanska to engage with the key leaders of Santa Monica, learning about the perspectives and needs of many of the stakeholders that our work affects.
You previously worked for Morley Builders, a company that helped shape our community, and now you are with Skanksa, which is currently changing the landscape of the City with the coming Expo Line. What are the important things as a city that need to be done to help move Santa Monica into the 21st century?
Yes, Morley Builders, Skanska, the Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the many other professional and citizen groups involved with helping the city to meet its 21st century challenges, are focused on helping the city modernize its traffic management through projects like the Expo line, additional and more efficient parking, creating live-work and other opportunities for people to work and recreate closer to where they live.
Other ongoing challenges include housing affordability, crime, keeping schools updated and competitive, and retaining our historic and cultural resources – all of which have excellent organizations working on these and other needs in the city.
You have been actively engaged in the community for many years and were chairman of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce from 2010-2011. What do you think the Chamber needs to do moving forward to help support the business community and shape the city’s future?
I have always felt that organizations like the Santa Monica Chamber owe it to their constituents to be fully engaged in serving the needs and interests of their respective members while at the same time making every effort to balance those interest with the broader community’s interests.
This is often easier said than done, of course, especially when many desire to live and work in places like Santa Monica with a high level of social awareness, an appreciation for quality of life, and some of the best lifestyle amenities offered anywhere. The diverse needs of varying interests – civic, citizens, community groups, and business – all have the obligation to engage, and the chamber has become one organization that provides a forum for engagement.
The leadership of the Chamber’s board and its many ambassadors, business alliance members, environmental affairs committee, and other groups, all provide community leadership in their respective areas in support of the hopeful best interests of all.
The bottom line is that the chamber needs to continue to identify and engage with visionary leaders that appreciate the holistic needs of a diverse city to assure that this forum for engagement continues.
Are you able to provide any sort of update on the progress of the construction of the Expo Line to Santa Monica?
The Expo Phase 2 project has progressed well and is on schedule for completion in 2015. The buildexpo.org website has a great deal of project information including options to sign up for email updates, alerts, and images of work underway and renderings of what the seven new stations between Culver City and Santa Monica are intended to look like when finished.