Commercial urban development in municipalities is often follows the same linear logic that tends to dominate urban development regimes. While linearity might improve management efficiency, agility might suffer. Assessing the success of completed projects could improve municipal planning and development organizations to adapt for future changes. However, knowing the criteria for success and indicator’s for its measurement is a precondition for creditable project assessment. But how do municipal officials define the success or failure of urban commercial development projects?

To answer this question we use data from interviews with 20 municipal officials involved in commercial urban development in Finland. Interviewees were selected among the 32 biggest municipalities in Finland (=municipalities having at least 35 000 habitants) with geographical variation. The interviews were semi-structured and consisted of project specific questions (e.g. what, when, how, was the project a success) as well as general questions (e.g. "how is success defined in commercial urban development projects"). The interview length varies from one to two hours.

The interviews seem to indicate that municipalities lack understanding on when an urban commercial development project can be seen successful, especially when it comes to the usage phase. Often the only success requirement was stated to be the actualization of the building phase of the commercial properties. If other factors existed, they were mostly related to the planning phase (e.g. the fluency of the process, monetary gains from land sales). However, most interviewees noted that better assessment of the usage phase could be useful.

Based on the interviews it could be argued that currently the system does not sufficiently support and allow actions that improve learning and adaptability in urban commercial development in municipalities. Instead, it seems to encourage municipal officials to concentrate only planning and not on the usage phase.