Workshop Review: Newlab – A Public Affairs Case Study

Following a Brick & Wonder Site Tour of Newlab in the Brooklyn Navy Yards in February 2024, we decided to share a Public Affairs Case Study of the Newlab development project.

Public Affairs and Partnerships are often overlooked aspects of taking a real estate development project from concept to commissioned building.

While the designers toil away in schematics and early iterations for the program of a building unfold, the careful diplomacy of bringing the building through public review and or approvals is a critical, parallel process that can make or break a project – often well after the site acquisition, and once soft-cost work is well underway.

How do major and especially innovative real estate projects like Newlab take shape, and, in turn, shape our cities?

Brick & Wonder members can watch this recap to hear from project collaborators James Neu and Samara Daly.

About The Workshop Leaders: 

Samara Daly is a partner at Bolton St. Johns, where she brings her expertise in stakeholder partnerships and community engagement along with extensive work with affordable housing developers and non-profit capital projects. Samara is also co-founder of DalyGonzalez an M/WBE boutique government and community affairs firm where she has helps to navigate and nurture public-private partnerships for their diverse range of clients. Samara has extensive experience in city government and working with non-profits and developers ranging from cultural, education institutions to mix-use developers and high-tech companies.


Partner and Managing Director James Neu oversees the company’s K-12, Non-profit and Commercial project portfolios, and leads DBI’s business operations and staff advancement initiatives. James has dedicated much of himself to the advancement of DBI’s company culture through spearheading internal initiatives such as mentorship, DEI training, and ongoing professional development programs. This enthusiasm for helping others has seen James continue his dedication to fostering community-driven development, leading projects for exalt Youth and the Robin Hood Foundation, including more than forty of their non-profit grantees. Having led some of DBI’s foundational projects to success such as St. Ann’s Warehouse, and Newlab at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he is an expert on advising on real estate transactions, navigating complex Public Private Partnerships, negotiating agreements, and aligning project teams to clients’ goals. James is the former Vice Chair of the board of exalt Youth.

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