November 20, 2018
Pocket Park, San Diego
People today are living more and more integrated lives. As we think about the change in people’s behaviour and as people look to synergize aspects of how they live, work and play, there is a shift in importance from single-purpose to hybrid-use spaces. The spaces in between, where people co-mingle and socialize or look to unplug, are extremely fertile environments for fulfilling this human need for community.
Building owners, developers, and operators who think beyond the singular dimension of these spaces can capitalize on the inherent value in their real estate through a number of ways. Attracting and spurring human activity on the ground-level starts by making enhancements at the point of greatest impact — where the people are — and going beyond the built form to reflect the location’s character and soul. This has obvious benefits in terms of drawing people in but can also be a catalyst for attracting retail and independent operators. By focusing on people-centred places that house a combination of uses — access to transit, food, retail, culture, parks, and places of refuge — developers can thrive as their real estate transforms into a ‘destination’.
Further, the incorporation of amenities, pop-ups, and experiences creates a competitive advantage and increased value for tenants. This extends to the programming of these spaces — inside and out — which needs to be part of the entire arrangement, not just a one off. Thought about holistically, a constant animation effect can draw people in, create a sense of community, and increase the “cool factor” value of the building or site. Shared frontages, community events, and flexible spaces for programming and impromptu gatherings allow for an orchestrated serendipity to occur.
There are also external benefits that can be of tremendous value. As part of the brand vision for either new developments or the redevelopment of existing buildings, incorporating story-making with the creation of experiences amplifies the uniqueness of a place and helps to align the leasing and marketing process. This can allow a developer to move through this process much more quickly than would otherwise be possible, attract or retain tenants, and get ahead of the competition. Identified early, a good placemaking story can make the difference between an ordinary building and an extraordinary public experience. Even before a project is complete, we can create buzz through pilots, temporary programming, and community engagement.
Leveraging the ‘in between experience’, pedestrian curation at the ground level is a win-win for developers and the public. The City will expedite the approvals to see these spaces work and, in certain cases, will permit additional height and density on sites that can demonstrate this potential.
Places that stimulate emotions and senses and that are intuitive and responsive attract more attention than unwelcoming adjacent spaces. With large stocks of obsolete buildings and vacant sites in established neighborhoods, the potential to transform the spaces in between into valuable revenue generators is limitless.