I recently had the pleasure of attending a re-certification course for my Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) professional designation, given by the National Institute for Crime Prevention (NICP) and its presenter, Thomas Wyatt. It was a 2-day ‘special topics’ course focusing on the subject of “placemaking,” and it was a great refresher on a subject in which I have a special interest. For the unfamiliar, placemaking is (generally speaking) the process of capitalizing on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote the health, happiness, and well-being of the community’s residents and visitors. Said a little quicker, it’s creating spaces that people want to use, and feel comfortable in doing so.

The process of placemaking is always community-minded, and rarely car-centric. Focus is on the pedestrian, creating a social atmosphere that becomes an appealing destination. Incorporating a variety of attractants, including options for commercial interests, public art, leisure, civic gatherings, etc., ensures a broad user group and continual activity.

The CPTED benefit of placemaking is in bringing positive activity to otherwise under-utilized (sometimes blighted) areas, and correspondingly reducing or eliminating negative-activity generators. People generally avoid committing crime where members of their community are present to witness. An additional benefit of placemaking is its effect on the economic vitality of the surrounding area. Where people gather, commerce follows. So, if you’re looking for a way to add a “spark” to your proposed or existing commercial center, consider some creative common area improvements in order to make it a true destination. More likely than not, your commercial tenant mix and corresponding lease rates will both benefit. If you’d like to discuss placemaking options for your project in greater detail, give me a shout and let’s start a conversation.