What a place to be thinking about place. I am sitting on a huge, raised and rotatable sun lounger in a beach bar overlooking a beautiful bay in Southern Spain. My three kids are running back and forth to the playful surf, having the time of their lives. Mrs E is taking it all in and hoping it will never end. The only blot on an otherwise perfect day is the Spanish X-Factor wannabe doing her best to destroy Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ through a combination of interesting pronunciation, a backing track that is more temperamental than Keith Moon in his prime, oh and a limited ability to sing! If said singer really did want nothing but the best for me, she would make this her last number.
I digress. Being a geographer by background, the notion of what makes a competitive or successful place has always fascinated (indeed it led me to a PhD thesis). However, when I first joined the property research community I did question whether my fascination was passé. This was the early 00s – a period in which a fierce debate was raging about the death of the office; the rise of remote working enabled by technology; and, by extension, the demise of commercial centres across the land. Had I made the most awful of career decisions?
Thankfully the fear was as misplaced as the debate itself. Over the ensuing decade interest in ‘winning cities’ has intensified markedly from investors and occupiers alike. The importance of location or place shows no signs of abating and was the central tenet of CoreNet Global’s latest CRE 2020 Webinar. You can link to the programme here:
A range of issues were covered, but I was left with one over-arching impression. Despite a world of high-speed and virtual networks, the physical networks that allow like-minded connection, information and knowledge exchange, creativity and collaboration and, lest we forget, fun are taking on an even greater significance. Successful places are distinguished by the depth of their formal and informal networks. They create a sense of commercial and social community – a sense of belonging that drives creativity and productivity to new levels.
It may be that these communities will need to show additional attributes, notably strong sustainability credentials, if they are to compete going forward, but the power is in the people and the way in which the surrounding place connects them. So I am quite happy to sustain my position here – particularly now that the singer has ceased – and create a new place in the sun for property researchers. Any takers?