As is true with so many shopping center formats, there are a myriad of definitions for mixed use. The most rigid is that a mixed-use development must be limited only to buildings with a mix of uses. One study suggests that the definition includes sites with a mix of uses, whether these are in adjacent parts of a block of buildings or in separate parts of the site. Other definitions restrict it to those mixed use projects initiated by a single developer; still others say the uses must be segregated by roads or landscaping.
Indeed, even the developers—some of the most creative mixed-use thinkers in the country—interviewed for this special real estate supplement to Chain Store Age had mixed definitions for the concept. But all 15 did agree that, despite how you define it, mixed use is the format most prolifically developed today. And for good reason.
The consumer preference for the intuitive mix of site planning and variety that is at the core of mixed use can’t be ignored. People like the experiences provided by a place that offers up a variety of things to do.
Place-making isn’t just about building beauty. While it’s true that mixed-use projects—particularly those that incorporate Main Streets and town centers—are inherently attractive, it’s the addition of varied activities that truly draws consumers. In some mixed-use developments, you can shop and work. In others you can live and shop. And in almost all you can eat and see a movie. The mixed-use vision is broad—and it works.