If there’s one thing that separates ‘cool town’ developer vs a conventional one, it’s the ability to see an exciting destination where others see an eyesore. How does one acquire this ability? Here are a couple of tips…
1. Look at buildings constructed before 1930, the last era of pedestrian-oriented development before the auto-oriented suburbia was invented. Anything built after that was increasingly affected by the mass production/industrial age’s facscination with machines, and the buildings reflected that at the expense of humanistic character.
This warehouse (pictured to the left) was built in 1894, and today is known as the Watertown Lofts (above).
2. Partner with people who do have this vision, typically practitioners that subscribe to the new urbanism, smart growth, historic preservation, and/or creative class movements.
3. Ask the creatives. No one has the vision better than them. Even better, let them participate with entrepreneurs and other creatives as a beta community to help co-design and co-invest in something that leaves no creative stone unturned.