Today more than ever, creativity and efficiency are needed to relaunch commercial activity in cities. A city without shops inevitably leads to a withdrawal into oneself, whereas the reverse leads to a more inclusive urban life, one that is more resilient and turned towards the future.
The Belgian consultancy company UPcity was created in 2015. Its primary mission is to support the public and para-public sectors in territorial decisions to guarantee a balance between urban functions, with three angles: trade, tourism, and citizen participation.
UPcity listed some proposals to help with commercial redeployment in cities in a recent article on its site. Trade has always had a central role in connecting urban communities and boosting social ties.
Upgrading what’s already there
To help this increase in amplitude, the team of specialised geographers proposes the following lines of thought:
- do not duplicate or oppose the offer present in town and its outskirts
- maintain a mix of functions and audiences (avoiding mono-functional neighbourhoods)
- promote consultation and collective energy (by involving all the parties concerned, the French city of Arras reduced its commercial vacancy from 22% in 2016 to 9% in 2020)
- encourage sustainable mobility in the heart of the city by facilitating the circulation of pedestrians and bicycles
- take well-being and conviviality into account
Camille Lhote from UPcity also underlines the crucial role of construction in this honourable effort: “Currently, we are more inclined to densify existing buildings in the city, to avoid urban sprawl. Recycling buildings, offering a mix of uses and versatility of places are ways to strengthen the commercial offer in the city centre, and revitalise city life and meet the needs of tomorrow. “