There was a time where business offices were kept separate from other types of developments, such as residential and entertainment. The grouping of a particular type of office (e.g. law or medical) was done primarily for convenience. It was also done for status. Beautiful business parks were built, created to convey a type of class (of clientele). The parks themselves had their own designation, such as Class A or Class B. However, these parks are decreasing in number. This can be attributed to the shift in workplace design, in which many commercial developers are creating flex spaces, where businesses can lease a space for a short amount of time or customize their floor plan. It can also be attributed to the growing trend of creating sustainable neighborhoods, which are a blend of work and life. Essentially, complexes are built to house business offices, retail and residential. Although, mixed-use development has been around for some time, it in the past ten years it truly reshaped communities.
Many think mixed-use spaces only pertain to one floor or section of a building. That’s not the case. According to MRSC of Washington, mixed-use development consists of two or more floors of “residential, commercial, cultural, institutional and/or industrial.” There are many developments that contain single-family homes, condos or apartments, an office building and/or an institutional building (e.g. library). The idea is that people can live in a sustainable community, where they can work and play in the same area. There have been homes built around shopping centers to promote community engagement by decreasing the need for cars. People are walking more and meeting their neighbors, which promotes a healthy lifestyle.
According to Placemakers, there are three categories of mixed-use developments:
- Vertical – This layout can take up an entire block or larger. The lower floors are for public uses, such as retail and restaurants. The floors above them are for private uses, such as offices and apartments.
- Horizontal – This is called a “walkable neighborhood,” since there are single-use buildings designated for either business or public (e.g. retail). People can walk to the neighborhood center within 10 minutes. Also, the streets are “pedestrian-friendly.”
- Uptown District – A combination of vertical and horizontal, this development is quite large in scale and has a Main Street. This can be seen as a “mini-city,” as it has the necessities a community needs (e.g. grocery store, retail, office and residential).
Mixed-use developments are flourishing, which is good for the economy and the environment. There are less cars, which helps the environment by decreasing our carbon footprint. Also, people are getting out more and enjoying their neighborhood. These communities are unique and prove that work and play can be combined.