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Skylight CEO Stephanie Blake on Creating Wonderful Places

Episode Eleven of the Thesis Driven Leader Series

Real estate is nothing without people. Even the most beautiful, historic spaces occasionally need a boost, and Stephanie Blake is the magician making that happen. As CEO of Skylight, she’s responsible for activating spaces ranging from New York’s Moynihan Station and St. John’s Terminal to San Francisco’s Ferry Building and Detroit’s Michigan Central Station.

Blake has built a reputation working with governments, brands, and real estate developers to build a sense of place and activity in incredible and often unconventional spaces. This week, she speaks with me about how she uses placemaking activations to bring vibrancy, purpose, and community to real estate of all types.

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Placemaking strategies have gained popularity for a variety of reasons; they help developers drive interim revenue, market a space that might be challenging for the public to understand and encourage businesses to come to an area that might otherwise be lacking. Skylight’s brand of activation is a powerful toolkit for developers and governments alike, particularly as cities reconsider the role of offices, gathering places and central business districts in a post-pandemic world.

Through her work, Blake puts her background in history to work. Each Skylight project begins with studying the context of space including both the history and the neighborhood. And it culminates working with brands to create extraordinary experiences in those spaces like NY Fashion Week, food festivals and concerts—to name just a few.

In this episode, we discuss how developers can position spaces to be welcoming places from day one, including the power of a blank canvas and lessons for operators repurposing challenging places.

As always, you can listen in here on Substack or on the following platforms:


—Brad Hargreaves

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Thesis Driven
Thesis Driven Leader Series
At Thesis Driven, we research and write about trends in the built world. Join Thesis Driven founder Brad Hargreaves as he interviews the leading voices at the intersection of real estate, cities, innovation and technology. Guests include innovators like Zillow founder Spencer Rascoff, the renowned East Coast developer MaryAnne Gilmartin, AOL founder and real estate visionary Steve Case and many more top change makers in real estate.