PURPOSE: To temporarily activate a (re)develop- ment site.
LEADERS: Municipalities, Developers, Citizen Activists, Business Improvement Districts
SCALE: Block || Lot || Building
FACT: Red Barn, the developer behind the temporary Hercules Market Hall, sees the project as market research on “what people look for, what they want to eat, the goods they want, and how long they will stay” for a more permanent project they call Market Town.
Site Pre-vitalization is the temporary re-activation of a previously inactive, underutilized parcel of land. This tactic brings a variety of art, food, and retail uses to a single location. Typically, this is done to generate needed revenue for the land owner/developer, raise the community’s awareness about the site’s long-term potential, and to build community while supporting local entrepreneurs.
Site pre-vitalization uses often include public markets, art exhibitions and studios, community festivals, beer gardens, micro-retail opportunities, flea markets, and other temporary programs capable of “pre-vitalizing” a site before more permanent building is possible. By activating a site during the planning, approvals, and financing stages, a vacant site can therefore provide low-cost community building and economic opportunities while a more formal transition occurs, from inactive parcel of land to a fully redeveloped and programmed addition to the town or city.
Site Pre-vitalization is a relatively new tactic and one that that is largely a private sector response to the restrictive commercial lending standards now imposed by banks. Thus, the tradeoff between the temporary uses—markets, beer gardens, ping-pong tables, art shows, vegetable growing etc.—and the realization of the final long-term private development has not yet been addressed. We’ll be watching this tactic closely as Proxy, Dekalb Market and others like it move from temporary installations to permanent development.