How an Urban Magnet Functions

The principle behind Urban Magnets is that successful places are defined by the “people” and not the physical form of the place.  The goal is to create a place where real people will be living out loud doing what they love with others who also love it, building relationships and loyalty to the place and a true sense of community.


Most of us are constantly looking for urban places that capture our attention and imagination.  We are looking for places we want to be in – that will make us feel something – that will make us feel truly at home.  Urban magnets are focused on actively creating these kinds of places for the diversity of people in our cities.

The land use plan and design approach outlined for an urban magnet is solely in serviced to getting the right constellation of people to be present.

The retail is targeted at the needs of the core subculture group offering them  specialty goods for their activity  that they cannot get elsewhere – and these niche stores do very well due to high level of special demand – and the rest of us can also shop there and “buy a piece of the magic and vitality” of the place.

The retail and production land uses offer a diversity of real jobs here for a variety of people that creates activity every day of the year and bring people to the site for work every day.

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The education uses bring white collar instruction jobs but more importantly, they bring the unique energy and economy of students.  Their learning and experimenting energy brings a priceless authenticity and endless intrigue and “new” things to experience.

Institutional or office uses bring steady well-paying jobs, increase the demand for the specialty retail, create permanent relationships amongst many in the magnet and attract all manner of people and business activity to the magnet.

The events bring people less associated with this activity to experience new things and be part of a place that is buzzing with energy.

The urban form is designed to have a character both meet their activity needs and reflect back to the core activity user group elemental aspects of their values and identity – which makes them feel at home and desire to come and stay.  As a result, many people who come share a lot of common ground with others – which builds a strong community that is loyal to a place. The rest of us come to watch them live out loud… and maybe join them

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Once it is established, the “magnet” then is woven into the larger urban experience and fabric of the city in the minds of everyone – and becomes a landmark in their mental map of the city’s important places.

Many businesses associated with that activity will then line up to be located here – and many other businesses will want to be there because of the dynamic magnetism and strong brand the place develops.  The City then becomes very proud of this special high-energy area (or areas) and works to support it and incorporate it into its identity.

The demand for the space may go up, driving prices up.  In order to keep the authenticity of production and education, it is important to manage a magnet to ensure those uses are still present and visible as the real estate values rise and companies evolve.  This sometimes involves a cross-subsidy between highly successful retail land uses and the less financially valuable ones of production and education.