Sustainable Mixed-Use Development: Designing Economically and Socially Healthy Communities

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With the World Health Organization’s projection that 70 percent of the world’s people will live in cities by 2050, it is time that developers rethink how urban spaces are designed. Urban areas were historically comprised of tight-knit neighborhoods, corner stores, and family owned businesses all within walking distance. Modern zoning laws have created an urban landscape that is far different. Plots of land are separated by their distinct use: residential, retail, office, industrial, etc. Once-vibrant interconnected neighborhoods have become isolated and choked off by interstates and urban flight. Mixed-use development seeks to create an atmosphere where people are again connected to each other and the communities around them.

This is an area we’re passionate and excited about. We’d love to be a part of your sustainable mixed-use development, but first let’s dive deeper into the benefits and details of this kind of development.

What Is Sustainable Mixed-Use Development?

Mixed-use development is an emerging model of urban planning that seeks to incorporate a multitude of uses in a single urban development. Rather than creating segregated spaces, a mixed-use space includes residential, office, and retail space in the same environment. In true mixed-use developments, these areas blend together harmoniously rather than simply placing a retail strip mall next to a housing development. In the 2011 report, Delivering Mixed Use Development at Neighborhood and Street Block Scales, scholars and policymakers identified three important definitions of mixed-use development that included descriptions of land use, varied economic activities, integration of physical connections and a high-density, multifunctional environment that is physically attractive.

Best of all, mixed-use development promotes sustainability. The best neighborhoods in New York City, for example, have long housed a healthy mix of restaurants, shops, offices and residences. Residents in New York routinely walk, bike, or use public transportation to reach their destinations within these connected neighborhoods, vastly reducing the need for automobile usage and ownership. The density and interconnectedness of mixed-use neighborhoods promotes the feasibility of public transportation in areas where it wasn’t practical before, thus reducing the environmental impact of an automobile-based commuter culture.

Mixed-Use Developments Create Vibrant Neighborhoods

With beautiful sunny days and warm evenings, the Southeast is the perfect region for new mixed-use developments. Rather than a city center that shuts down at 5 p.m., mixed-use developments create vibrant neighborhoods that have life even after the workday is done. For example, Emory Point, near Emory University in Georgia, mixes multi-family units with a vast retail space. In Tampa, the redevelopment of Channelside Bay Complex with new entertainment and restaurant options is expected to bring additional multi-family housing growth to the area, thus creating a thriving mixed-use area.

As occupancy rates throughout the Southeast rise, new developments are becoming more viable. The entry of millennials into the real estate market is driving the market for new development toward urban mixed-use spaces. This group’s clear preference is to live, work, and play in the urban areas where public transportation or biking to work is viable and shopping, food and entertainment are easily accessible. The benefits of mixed-use developments aren’t limited to simple economics for city-dwellers; these shared spaces bring about feelings of belonging and neighborhood culture which are preferred by urban residents compared to the relative isolation of suburban areas.

Interested in creating a mixed-use development in the Southeast? Contact us today to see how our professionals at Live Oak Contracting can bring your plans to fruition. At Live Oak Contracting, we specialize in making sustainable mixed-use developments a reality.  We proudly serve the South and recognize the unique needs in our communities.

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Live Oak Contracting believes in building long term partnerships based on integrity. From our Clients to our team of professionals, we incorporate a collaborative approach to every project, ensuring the highest quality product delivered on time and in budget.

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