Mixed-Use on the Rise in Urban Environments

Mixed-use developments – those properties that encompass a mix of uses in one location – continue to grow in popularity, in large part because of the ability to live, work and play in a concentrated area. Unlike the suburban sprawl that took place between WWII through the 1990s, where land parcels were dedicated to single uses such as residential neighborhoods, commercial retail, office buildings, and industrial that required a commute; many of today’s developments are focusing on solutions to multiple needs. Mixed-use properties provide a number of benefits, such as greater housing variety and density; stronger neighborhood character; and pedestrian and bicycle-friendly accessibility. While mixed-use developments have been popping up in suburban areas such as former shopping malls for the past couple of decades, the trend is increasingly moving into urban areas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the country’s population is more urbanized now than ever before, with the population in urbanized areas increasing by 13.3% between 2000 and 2010. Urban living has become desirable for many people, in part because of walkability to shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues; diversity of neighborhoods; centrally located within the market; and access to public transportation including buses and light rail. This type of new urbanism can also support civic goals such as improving affordability and housing types, stimulating economic development and creative use of spaces, and enhancing ecological sustainability; both in renovating existing structures as well as developing new properties from the ground up.

Unlike suburban mixed-use properties that tend to encompass blocks of horizontal development, urban mixed-use generally encompasses vertical development, allowing for multiple uses in one building. Such an example is the recently completed 16M in lower downtown Denver, developed by Integrated Properties, Inc. 16M is a ten-story building, encompassing 334,000 square feet, including ground level restaurants and retail, four floors of office space, and five floors of luxury residential lofts. The location of the property, facing the popular 16th Street pedestrian mall, is within walking distance to seemingly endless shopping, dining, and entertainment venues, as well as office buildings, hotels and public transportation. As with other quality urban mixed-use properties, 16M not only draws high-caliber office and residential customers, but also generates appeal to the general public with eateries including Panera Bread and Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill, as well as the highly-anticipated first U.S. location of STK Rebel; a trendy upscale steakhouse from the creators of STK in NYC and Las Vegas. This mix of uses has proven to be valuable for customers and visitors alike.

While the new urbanism movement is not new, the increase in city-based mixed-use developments are not only breathing new life to tired city neighborhoods, but are also creating walkable, sustainable micro-communities, allowing residents, tenants, and guests alike to enjoy all of the benefits that mixed-use developments provide.