Traditionally, people didn’t segregate their buildings based on their function.
Throughout history, it was natural to build homes next to markets, eateries, taverns, places of worship and various shops. Here in North America, the earliest cities and towns sprouted around a “Main Street” - a thoroughfare lined with ground-floor businesses and upper-floor dwellings. Only with the advent of zoning laws did we start to regulate where buildings of a specific function can be placed. Then, during the postwar inner-city decline, land use became more distinct and large swathes of residential homes and enormous retail plazas became the 20th-century zoning model.
A few decades ago, things changed. The younger generation embraced city living and everything it represented - diversity, authenticity, vibrant social life, walkability, and proximity to venues. On the heels of the urban revival, returned the millennia-old, mixed-use building model.
Mixed-use developments combine several profit-producing residential, commercial, institutional and/or industrial uses into one building. The uses vary but commonly include dwelling units, retail spaces, cultural, and entertainment venues, among others.
The “Main Street” model has survived the urban decline to return and energize urban communities in towns and cities alike across North America. However, in the modern version, mom-and-pop shops have been largely replaced with services, hospitality, and entertainment venues, while still containing dwelling units above or behind the storefronts. Have a peek at the Princeton Junction Transit Village in Princeton, NJ, for a contemporary example of the Main Street concept.
As electronic commerce took America by storm, many brick-and-mortar retail businesses simply could not compete and went out of business. Vacated shopping malls and large department stores found a new purpose as mixed-use centers, featuring residential units and businesses better-suited to compete with e-commerce stores. Such redevelopments have surfaced across the continent, breathing new life into defunct, yet precious real estate; just take a look at what’s become of the old Sears building in Santa Monica.
Falling into a broader category of mixed-use developments, a vertical mixed-use building may house any combination of businesses. Typically, however, public uses such as restaurants, coffee shops, government offices, and even transit facilities congregate on the lower floors, while private uses the likes of condo units or hotel rooms are located higher up. The Metropolis in Downtown LA is a prime example of this development model.
These combine various single-use buildings in a single, mixed-use lot. Such an arrangement allows for the combination of businesses and dwellings to evolve into a walkable community or even a neighborhood.
In urban areas, horizontal mixed-use developments often repurpose abandoned buildings. For instance, take Toronto’s Liberty Village - a 19th-century parcel of land enclosed by railway lines, initially used for institutional and industrial purposes. While its correctional facilities and factories shuttered during the 20th century, the ghost neighborhood got a new lease on life in the early 2000s. With a series of condo towers popping up, and a myriad of shops, restaurants, banks, and offices quickly filling up the old, empty factories, the area evolved into one of the most vibrant, desired neighborhoods in the city.
Today, mixed-use developments present an attractive investment opportunity. If you’re contemplating buying or building a mixed-use building, consider the benefits below.
Young professionals and seniors alike are drawn to mixed-use buildings. Both groups enjoy the comfort of having shops, restaurants, and various services at their doorstep. Environmentally conscious millennials revere the sustainability aspect of reduced vehicle reliance made possible by such buildings. Seniors prefer the more affordable rents, easier maintenance, and the proximity of amenities.
Commercial tenants rely on their community relationships to keep their businesses running, and favor locations where their consumers can have easy access to their products and services.
Many real estate investors are wary of doing business with residential tenants. If you feel this way, mixed-use developments may be a breath of fresh air. Commercial tenants are good tenants, who need to attract their customers and are thus incentivized to keep the leased space clean and in good repair.
Further, commercial leases are subject to looser consumer protection laws than their residential counterparts. This flexibility can be advantageous for the proprietor; that said the relationship with commercial tenants is likely to be less adversarial, more professional and courteous.
Common in commercial real estate, net lease agreements, - single, double, or triple - allow the landlord to hand down property taxes, building insurance, and maintenance fees to their tenant in exchange for lower rent prices. In recent years, these types of leases have become a popular investment vehicle for investors seeking low-risk, steady income.
Overall, commercial leases can bring in more income. Commercial properties typically offer an annual return of 6-12% off the purchase price.
While more and more consumers embrace the online marketplace, brick-and-mortar shops aren’t going anywhere. Yes, one can buy a wide range of products online, but certain services, such as hair and beauty salons, movie theaters, clinics, restaurants, and coffee shops will always need a consumer’s physical presence. As the Santa Monica Sears redevelopment mentioned earlier illustrates, the decline of retail has sometimes been an opportunity for mixed-use developers.
If you’re involved in, or planning a mixed-use development, our team of engineers can help with all aspects of civil, structural, and MEP design. We also offer architectural drafting, 3D modeling and rendering support, Title 24 and CalGreen calculations, and construction administration services. Contact us at (877) 892-0292 or email@example.com to discuss your project and receive a quote today.
Design Everest is OPEN! We work remotely and are fully committed to taking on and delivering projects.
Design Everest’s remote working model can safely take-up and deliver your projects within the current government guidelines on COVID-19 (a.k.a Coronavirus). This applies to many of our project scopes, including architecture, civil engineering, structural engineering, and construction administration across California.
Design Everest is set up to remotely leverage digital platforms (virtual meetings, calls, emails etc.) in client-facing and internal operations. Over the years, we have advanced this ability to the extent that we can continue supporting new and existing clients across many of our projects. Even projects that need an on-site visit can be fulfilled safely via video calls or in-person visits, where permitted.
Note that the present government guidelines permit the delivery of essential services, including those related to construction.
YES, Design Everest's remote working model enables us to work safely with all clients, suppliers, industry partners, and internal staff as per government guidelines.
Design Everest can still support many of our types of projects (new or ongoing) safely. For example, new custom homes, accessory dwelling units, civil plans etc. We are committed to delivering these remotely and safely as per the current government guidelines. In case of any external dependency that is unavoidable/unavailable, your assigned Custom Success Manager or Project Manager will keep you posted on it and try their best to keep your plans in-progress.
YES, our remote working model enables us to be fully committed to ongoing projects. In case of any external dependency that is unavoidable, unavailable or unsafe, your assigned Custom Success Manager or Project Manager will keep you updated and try their best to keep your plans in-progress. If an on-site visit is not feasible via a video call, we will try our best to fulfill the visit safely, where permitted.
Some of our clients are already going ahead with their projects with us via video calls or virtual meetings. Your assigned Customer Success Manager or Project Manager is happy to help you with this, where needed.
There are multiple reasons for this. It's typical to plan the construction step in the summer. So, clients get started on the pre-construction steps (architecture, engineering, and construction admin) in winter or spring to stick to planned timelines.
Projects such as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Additions/Remodels enable clients to rent/resale and generate revenue. Meanwhile, many clients are concerned about protecting their families and businesses against earthquakes by retrofitting their homes and buildings. These are just a few of the various reasons why it’s still reasonable for clients to stick to their construction plans.
Feel free to phone us at (888) 311-3015 Alternatively, you may contact your assigned Custom Success Manager or Project Manager directly via phone, email or virtual meetings.
To summarize, Design Everest is OPEN and able to serve new and existing clients, affiliates, suppliers, and industry partners.
Stay safe and rest assured that Design Everest can help you go ahead with your plans as per the recommended safety guidelines!