Whether it’s a single, multi-story building or a complex, mixed-use developments are repurposing and revitalizing communities, and transforming both urban and suburban areas alike into living and active work-life communities. Offering everything from dining and retail to office spaces and residential properties, experts say these mixed-use developments are not only fostering a sense of community, they are lessening commuter traffic, growing efficiency and improving work-life balance.
What are Mixed-Use Spaces?
“Mixed-use spaces have a strong residential presence, as well as a broad range of businesses,” said Mark Page, senior director of creative design and development, Mohawk Group. “The more diverse the space is, the more attractive and active it will likely be. Businesses that provide related services or have like-minded goals are strengthened by the support of a captive base community.”
With U.S. construction spending reaching an all-time high in 2017, mixed-use developments are a cost-effective way to strategically use land in places that are often costly, like metro areas and coastal regions.
“Mixed-use is valuable use of expensive per square foot space, said Jenne Ross, director of marketing, Karndean. “In many urban areas, it’s the only way to develop since there isn’t enough land to do them separately.”
Mike Sanderson, vice president of marketing, Engineered Floors, added, “Also, municipalities are encouraging mixed-use to improve an area’s livability by alleviating traffic and congestion, so in that regard it’s really an environmentally-friendly approach to urban development and quality of life.”
Providing a high level of convenience for both the residents of the property as well as surrounding areas, Michael Mulligan, director of Tarkett’s strategic accounts, says these properties afford residents with more dining and shopping choices within walking distance or just a short ride from their home, office, or both.
As a result, these developments are not only creating and revitalizing communities and offering something for everyone, they are also alleviating environmental impacts.
“Mixed-use developments have appeal to aging baby boomers, empty nesters and millennials alike by providing convenient services within walking distance and reducing or even eliminating the need for driving or owning a car,” said Gary Keeble, director of marketing, Metroflor Corporation.
“When creating new residential developments, you are adding more housing supply for more people, and mixed-use developments help to bring necessary infrastructure to areas that lack certain things,” said Nicolas Paredes of Warburg Realty.
Maximizing on the rising popularity of these developments, and how they are making life a little—or a lot—easier for the residents that live in or near them, Paredes, a New York City-based real estate agent, markets the benefits of them when listing a property that is located in or near such developments.
“If the city was filled with a bunch of purely residential towers, and you had to commute 20 minutes to get your groceries or a glass of Chardonnay, life wouldn’t be so easy,” he said. “And time is money—especially in urban cities. In creating mixed-use spaces, developers can largely benefit the neighborhood with both infrastructure and culture, and improve their return on investment by marketing accessibility and ease of their buildings.”
On the commercial side, simply put, Main Street commercial applications in these mixed-use developments are providing much welcomed convenience by placing businesses right at our doorsteps.
“We want to be able to go downstairs and drop off our dry cleaning, and pick it up on the way home tomorrow,” said Jay Jacobs, national sales manager, Congoleum Corp. “We want a restaurant we can walk to. We want all those conveniences.”
As far as what we consider convenient, Jacobs says times have changed. No longer is the coffee shop located a half-mile from home most convenient. Today, when we think convince, we think walkable, and having the local bakery, dentist or yoga studio just feet away from our front door is what many are in the market for.
On the Floors
“Flooring areas have become interior canvases through which the interior designer, facilities manager or entrepreneur can frame or draw focus to different areas of interest,” said Page.
As an integral part of these unique spaces from both a performance and aesthetic perspective, Page says flooring in mixed-use developments is designed to transition and interlink defined areas of use. “Flooring creates focal points, defines resting and social gathering places and denotes pathways for wayfinding purposes. Flooring also draws in color to enhance activity areas of use or neutral palettes for peaceful and resting environments.”
Using a mix of residentially and commercially-rated solutions, in addition to products that look and feel good on the floor, specifying the appropriate flooring types that will withstand the high foot traffic of commercial spaces and tenants’ wear and tear in multifamily applications is important.
“Mixed-use spaces include a wide variety of living, working, active, dining and other areas, [and] because of this, materials will range across all types of both hard and soft flooring,” Page added. “Carpet provides comfort and rugs are used for accents, while ceramic, LVT, sheet vinyl and wood are specified for wet/dry and more active environments.”
According to Liz Marcello, director residential products, Tarkett, residences today are incorporating the use of resilient sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl plank and carpet in the bedrooms. Carpet in the bedrooms still creates that warm comfort under foot, but with the popularity of hard surfaces, more multifamily projects are using hard surfaces throughout the entire unit.
Hard surface continues to be the go-to in Main Street commercial applications, and is allowing the floors in these bustling spaces to maintain a consistent look.
“For high traffic spaces like grocery stores, tile is consistently used,” said Paredes. “I am also seeing the popularity of tile-based wood, which resembles wood grain but is made from ceramic. I have seen this more in restaurants that are trying to capture cozy vibes in a more industrial setting. While modern days have shocked and drastically changed the design landscape, some old practices are coming back, like terrazzo flooring, which is known for its inherently durable and timeless quality. I’ve been excited to see this in new developments like office buildings and residential buildings.”
As more mixed-use developments emerge, we’ll see more personalization of the flooring materials used in high-profile areas and also interest in more unique and decorative design experiences, says Page. “We’re going to also see more flooring systems that interlock between different material types. We’ll also see more specification of intelligent or ‘smart’ flooring built into the holistic internal environment that tracks usage and actions, informing integrated building systems.”