How to Create an Urban Magnet

Select activity group – Pick your core activity subculture(s) around which to build the magnet(s) – either based on existing activity groups you have strong or ones you want to attract for economic development reasons.  Creating two or three magnets in the same place are often stronger than having a single one – especially if all of them will be attractive to similar user groups / subcultures. (eg: music, food, fashion;  automobiles, sports, boating; etc..).

Because these are built around real people, it is best to research the people and the place and make the activities authentic to the place, and then build on strengths or reputation that currently exists in the unique aspects of the community or place.

There are many opportunities for urban magnets – as many as there are activity groups.  Not all activities lend themselves well to creating magnets, but many do. A few possibilities are listed below:

§ Outdoor recreation magnet

  • Sports magnet
  • Rod and gun magnet
  • Automobile magnet
  • Motorsports magnet
  • Fashion magnet
  • Music magnet
  • Movie magnet
  • Dogs/pet magnet
  • Food magnet
  • Arts magnet
  • (Skate)Boarding magnet
  • Boating magnet
  • Combat (military) magnet
  • Furniture magnet
  • Bicycle magnet
  • Gardens magnet
  • And many others.

Partnership and energy building – Gather the stakeholders in the activity group for a brainstorm for concept and relationship building workshop – led by skilled facilitators in this concept.

Concept development – Develop a concept and strategy for the development over time of all 5 aspects of a successful magnet.

  • Retail
  • Production
  • Institutional / educational / office
  • Events
  • Urban design and character

Locations – Identify key locations if not already selected due to development plan – consider starting where existing stores or activity centers are located for the activity group.

Tenant recruiting – Start discussions, building relationships and cast the tenants.

Management – Manage it carefully to keep all the uses strong.  Expect some subsidy may be required for production and educational spaces – to keep the priceless authenticity.  And allow for some failures and experiments to keep the place current and adapting.