Mixed-use Development: A Rising Urban Model

By Jacob Lundquist

Pictured above: Safeway mixed development in Seattle, Washington. Image courtesy of Joe Wolf.

Mixed-use development is on the rise, and for good reason. Since it combines apartment complexes with commercial and cultural functions, pedestrians are quick to see the efficiency of these new developments. Mixed-use development often is composed of a large apartment building with a business physically integrated into the bottom floor. When done over the course of a city block or entire neighborhood, this encourages skyscraper-like buildings and compact development.

The benefits of mixed-use developments are fairly easy to see. For instance, compact land use will significantly lessen the distance between housing and businesses, which often includes the workplace or community gathering areas. The density of these districts give them a unique character, which is becoming an increasingly valuable look.

Other reasons for the growing favorable opinion of mixed-use development include:

This can also provide a safety net, as business downturns will not mean the property goes under, as residential profits will continue (or vice versa!) Therefore, mixed-use areas tend to be a safer, diversified form of investment.

What does this mean for property managers?

Put simply, property management must become specialized and overtly technical to accurately account for the pressures of mixed-use developments. Due to their vertically integrated model, these properties will begin requiring social engineering skills, with a focus on comprehensive data management.

According to Richard Fennell, JLL’s Head of Property & Asset Management in Australia, “Property managers of the future will need social engineering skills as much as traditional engineering experience, and will be more responsive to digital and social media, as occupiers will use those channels to interact with the building and each other.” The increased presence of managers on social media is going to be an incredibly valuable skill for these areas.

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