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Minimal viable town squares built like franchises in settlements that lack communal areas

Image credit: Desigher Outlet Cotsowlds by Robert Hitchins Ltd

Darko Savic
Darko Savic May 29, 2022
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Develop a concept of a "minimal viable town square" and then build them as a franchise in settlements that lack communal areas.
  • It is common in my part of the world for even large settlements to lack communal areas. All the land is privately owned and people build only for themselves, without considering the community. What could have been a town becomes just a series of houses along a road. Other than their backyards, people have nowhere to socialize.
  • Make settlements/villages more lively and increase the frequency of social interactions.
  • Add some urban elements to rural areas so that people can have the best of both worlds.
How it works
A startup examines what it takes to establish a lively town square. It finds a large settlement that lacks communal areas, buys suitable land, and obtains all the required permits.
The goal is to build the smallest viable town square and have people use it for the intended purposes.
Use the first town square as the learning ground to iterate the concept and obtain loans/investors to build the next one. Copy/paste and grow. Eventually, start selling the concept as a franchise.
Minimal viable town square
Initially, the goal is to minimize the use of space and perfect the concept. Figure out how much space a town square need to be unmistakably identifiable as a town square and serve its intended purposes? The place should be vibrant and able to attract different types of people for different activities througout the day. The smaller you can make it, the cheaper you can spread the concept around.
Based on experience and investments, you can go for bigger town squares in the future.
What are some features and businesses that are universally appealing and should be included in a minimal town square?
  • benches and hard surfaces suitable for sitting
  • a caffee / restaurant
  • a bakery
  • seasonal sweets (ice cream and smoothies in the summer, something else in the winter)
  • an area for kids to play
  • parking lots
  • a marketplace where locals can sell their produce
  • what else?
Access from the main road and parking spaces
In order to attract visitors, the place needs to be visible from the main road. However, the traffic from the road shouldn't negatively affect the wellbeing of people in the square.
You can create a separation between the town square and the main road with two rows of short-term paid parking spaces. Additional long term parking spaces can be placed behind the square.
It would also make sense to place such town squares adjecent to local supermakrets. That way it could benefit from the established supermerket's customers and parking lot.
Business models
  • The town squares could be run like shopping centers where the shops are leased out to 3rd parties.
  • They could also be run like resorts, where all the people are employed by a single company.

In a way, this is a continuation of this idea with a pinch of this one.
Creative contributions

Corporatization of the smaller towns

Miloš Stanković
Miloš Stanković May 29, 2022
I can see hopes for this type of investment in eras just like this current one when multiple giant companies are leaving an enormous market, like McDonald's is doing in Russia. They'll need to replace their income elsewhere, and other giant unfulfilled markets are also siding with the country they just left, so it's hard to imagine they'll go further into India or China.
This perhaps leaves smaller towns in the western world as a sort of a consolation prize.
But there has to be an equation of profitability based on the community size. Or the transit frequency nearby. Also income averages of the communities.
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General comments

jnikola2 years ago
I am not sure that squares are places where people nowadays socialize. There are many squares in my city, but people socialize in shopping centres, bars and restaurants. Squares become the central points only during music, food, drink, art or traditional products festivals.
In other words, opening bakeries, bars and restaurants, fixing and building new pavements, adding benches along with the city or building kids' playgrounds seem like more viable ways of creating places for socialization. Also, shopping centres bring a lot more money since more space can be rented, plus, people can hang out even when the weather is not good.
What do you think?
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Michaela D
Michaela D2 years ago
  • Organize events like small festivals or markets that would bring people together.
  • Observe what people like to gather/go out for in an area or country and give them a few options for that. For example. in some countries people socialize more by going to coffee shops or bars, so make plans to have at least a couple of them, in others it is restaurants, so have at least a couple of restaurants with the most popular cuisine of the area. People tend to gather where they have more options of suitable establishments.
  • Street food or snacks.
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