" 'You want to stitch them up, make it work,' Gilligan says.
"The Albuquerque developer has been stitching holes in the inner-city fabric for seven years, bringing cohesiveness and value to its overlooked pockets. "
He adds small, contemporary townhouse and condo projects - 6 units here, 12 units there -- but observers say the projects work. They do well in the marketplace, and they add important neighborhood vitality by pulling a neighborhood together.
Gilligan's mission is infill - developing empty parcels in the city core. He says the way to revitalize Downtown is to start at square one, with residential units, building a little extra density into the area.
"That's the piece that needs to happen," he says. "Then you'll have a market, and business will follow."
The important things here aren't only adding residents and thus critical mass, but turning dead space into lively space. Because it doesn't take much dead space to deaden a surrounding neighborhood.
I don't mean you should build on every inch of open space; of course you want parks and other greenery in your downtowns. I'm talking about "open space" like litter-strewn weeds by a railroad track, or an ugly asphalt strip-mall parking lot that kills off the pedestrian ambiance of a commercial district.