May 12, 2017 at 5:34pm | Denise Bodman
By Jacob Lundquist

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:
  • Easy transportation. In mixed-use areas, it tends to be much easier to get around from work to home. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2015 Community Preference Survey, Millennials prefer walking to biking by a solid 12% margin! Similarly, millennials are far more likely than any other generation to use mass transit options in the city. Mixed-use encourages quick and easy transportation options in favor of urban development.

  • Business interaction. When businesses and workplaces are quite literally underneath your apartment unit, it becomes easier and more preferable to engage with local businesses. For up-and-coming sectors, this can be a very appealing factor. Similarly, this makes customer interaction easier, as necessary functions can be combined into one area.

  • Location, location, location. Since mixed-use development tends to occur over the span of an entire neighborhood, their dense and integrated community structure is very attractive to new renters. These neighborhoods therefore also include popular amenities in an accessible proximity. Since new renters and homebuyers prefer central locations with easy commute, the popularity of mixed-use cannot be overstated.

  • Diversified investment portfolio. This one applies to property owners and managers who, in their overseeing of a property, want to see it flourish. When investors get income from both residential and commercial projects, they’re more likely to re-invest in affordable and community-friendly development projects like mixed-use areas.

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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