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Charleston Business

Creating Spaces for Connection: The Importance of Third Places

Aug 23, 2023 11:34AM ● By Racquel Collier

At the heart of a developer’s role lies the profound responsibility to foster vibrant communities. By deliberately incorporating third places into our urban landscapes and developments, we unlock immense value for the community and bolster the local economy. These spaces prioritize human connection, self-care, and overall well-being, making them essential components of our post-Covid world.

The concept of the “third place,” as coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg, refers to a social environment that exists between the home (first place) and the workplace (second place). In Greenville, commendable efforts have been made to bring this concept to life. The city’s downtown area has evolved into a thriving hub of community gatherings, cultural events, and social interactions. Additionally, Unity Park provides residents with natural settings to escape the urban hustle and engage in recreational activities.

However, to fully harness the potential of the third place, we must move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach and ensure that a diverse range of spaces is available to accommodate various communities.

The third place acts as a social nucleus, bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds to cultivate a strong sense of community. Whether it’s Unlocked Coffee, The Commons, Jones Oyster Co., or the local community center, these spaces serve as catalysts for social connections. In these informal settings, people engage in conversations, share experiences, and forge lasting relationships. They act as melting pots, encouraging individuals to learn from one another, challenge their perspectives, and cultivate a deeper sense of belonging within their communities.

Moreover, the third place is not merely a venue for socializing; it also cultivates creativity and collaboration. These environments inspire individuals to express themselves, explore new ideas, and engage in intellectual discourse. They provide a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurs, artists, and innovators to develop their ideas, collaborate with like-minded individuals, and transform their visions into reality. By fostering creativity and collaboration, the third place contributes to the overall well-being of the community and enriches its cultural fabric.

In the multifamily housing industry, technology can play a significant role in enhancing the community experience. By leveraging technology-driven insights, developers can tailor amenities to meet the diverse needs of the community, providing an experience that goes beyond the basics.

Within this context, these amenities act as “third places,” offering residents an escape from the pressures of daily life. They provide a refuge where people can unwind, relax, and recharge, conveniently located within the community. These thoughtfully designed amenities create spaces that cultivate a sense of community and foster social interactions among residents. Whether it’s a shared lounge area, a fitness center, or a communal garden, these third places within housing developments contribute to a vibrant and interconnected community, promoting well-being and a profound sense of belonging.

Developers bear the (fun) responsibility of creating places and spaces that cater to the needs of communities. The most successful developers accomplish this by intentionally integrating third places into their developments. By providing these spaces, developers play a critical role in creating healthy and thriving communities, particularly in today’s fast-paced world, where people are increasingly disconnected from one another. Moreover, these third places offer people a chance to come together, forge connections, and foster a profound sense of belonging and community.

Racquel Collier is the president of Caliber Real Estate, which specializes in developing multifamily communities and land. They take a comprehensive approach to real estate development, combining their interests in art, food, media, music, and people to produce impactful projects. Learn more at