Mixed-use developments bring together different types of spaces to create walkable areas where people can live, work, and play. For example, a mixed-use building might have a ground floor dedicated to retail and upper floors where people live in apartments.
Over the last couple of decades, many cities have experienced a greater push for more mixed-use developments. What fuels this change? Looking into emerging trends offers some insight into why more people want mixed-use developments in their communities.
People Walk to Enjoy More Walkable Areas
Sitting in traffic too often can contribute to several health problems. The exhaust from vehicles can cause asthma and other breathing problems. Even the negative feelings of anxiety and anger that people experience in traffic can damage their physical health.
Mixed-use developments offer some relief from car-centric living. If everything you need in daily life is within walking distance of your home, why would you put yourself through the stress of driving?
Walking has the opposite effect of driving. When people walk more, they benefit from:
- Reduced stress
- Stronger immune systems
- More energy
- Improved mood
- Clearer thinking
- Stronger bones
- Healthier weight
- Improved cardiovascular health
Younger people have decided that they want to maximize the benefits of living in small communities without giving up the convenience of big cities. Mixed-used developments fill that need, so it makes sense for real estate professionals to explore retail properties that share space with apartments, offices, parks, and restaurants.
Growth in Vertical and Horizontal Mixed-Use Developments
You might tend to think of mixed-use real estate as multi-level buildings with residential and commercial spaces. While vertical mixed-use buildings are still popular, many developers now create horizontal mixed-use properties.
With a horizontal mixed-use development, you will find shorter buildings — often just one or two stories — that have spaces for housing as well as restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses. For example, a home might share a wall with a clothing store on one side and a deli on the other side.
Why would developers choose horizontal projects? There are several potential reasons that it could make sense for someone to build wider instead of taller. In an area with inexpensive real estate, the developer could save money by avoiding the costs of constructing taller buildings. Also, some communities have building ordinances that do not allow projects taller than a few stories. Going tall simply isn’t an option in those places.
A horizontal development can also match the pre-existing aesthetics of an area. When all the other buildings on a street are fairly short, it makes sense to blend in with established designs. Otherwise, you could upset locals by creating a building that they consider an “eyesore.” That doesn’t mean the building is unappealing. It often means that people just don’t like how the building looks compared to other structures in the area.
Urban and Suburban Communities Are Choosing Mixed-Use Developments
You might think of mixed-use developments as an urban concept. It does make a lot of sense for cities to construct mixed-use developments. When you put everything people need within walking distance, you can save a lot of money on public infrastructure and utilities. Plus, the higher cost of land encourages developers to build vertically instead of horizontally.
Suburbs are also choosing mixed-used developments, though. And the change is starting to blur the lines between what it means to live in a suburban or urban location.
Many suburban families like where they live. They don’t want to leave their communities to go to work, see live music, watch movies, and buy the products they enjoy. Mixed-use developments bring the convenience and culture of cities to neighborhoods where residents feel safe and comfortable.
These development projects have more opportunities to spread out instead of build upward. Still, they offer many of the same features that you get from vertical buildings: a sense of community, easy access to a broader range of spaces, and opportunities to live healthier lives.
Recent Projects Embrace Smart Technologies
Smart technologies are transforming the ways people live and work. Some areas have invested so much in smart technology they’re now called “smart cities.”
It makes a lot of sense for developers to include smart technologies in mixed-use buildings. Something as simple as installing smart thermostats in every unit can help lower the cost of energy. If tenants pay for their own utilities, lower bills will make spaces more attractive to them. If property owners pay the bills, they save money by controlling the amount of energy their buildings use.
Smart tech can go far beyond what thermostats offer. You can use devices to:
- Improve security by installing wireless cameras and sensors throughout the property
- Give tenants access to cameras so they can manage their businesses and homes more easily
- Reduce energy waste with smart water heaters
The increased security that smart technologies add to your property might mean you can qualify for lower insurance premiums. Reach out to your insurance company to learn more about its programs.
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