Activating Spaces, Developing Places


  • How to implement a plan by bringing together the existing community and the development community to work together to activate an overlooked space
  • Proven steps towards leveraging community programming in targeted spaces in an effort to draw in outside investment
  • A new model for Community Development Corporations and developers working together in emerging urban markets


Too often, community members and commercial developers seem like they’re playing for opposing teams. What is more, the level of subsidy being sought for urban projects, despite a proven market, is unsustainable for cities. A fundamentally different development model is emerging that proves demand to justify supply rather than subsidizing supply for the hope of attracting demand. A new neighborhood playbook is needed that enables communities and developers to come together to activate a space (demonstrate demand) on the way to developing a place (building supply).

This session will share lessons from neighborhood regeneration efforts where strategic and targeted neighborhood reactivation efforts have yielded extraordinary results. Cincinnati’s Walnut Hills is flipping old models on their heads and regenerating use of a time-honored, two-stage process of demand creation and supply development. Here, the ‘demand building’ phase began in an overlooked convergence of rear lanes, leading to the creation of Five Points Alley. This has sparked several development projects. In another example, Covington, Kentucky's Madlot helped spawn a whole new wave of investment. “Build it and they will come” is yielding to “come and let’s build something together.” This session takes a principled approach to how these lessons may be tailored to neighborhood development efforts nationwide.