2006-11-15, 11:04

Why mixed use? Because it's profitable

By: Jonathan Groner
On Nov. 13, 2006, The Washington Post featured an interesting article, "Remade City Centers Find Mass Appeal," by business reporter Kim Hart. Hart's article begins, "The old town, it seems, is the new thing."

Hart says that the number of mixed-use projects of 15 acres or more has been increasing by about 28 percent per year since 1996. Why? Because they make money. Hart says the Urban Land Institute has concluded that shoppers spend $84 an hour in an urban village, compared with $57.50 an hour in a traditional shopping mall.

"People stay longer, come back more often and spend more money in places that attract their attention," says Ed McMahon of the Urban Land Institute in Hart's article. "No one wants to go to a strip mall to hang out."

As sprawl and congestion mounted in the last half of the 20th century, Hart writes, traditional suburban malls were dismissed by many as soulless. The new urbanism tried to recreate walkable, mixed-use communities.

My comment is that mixed-use development is almost always more difficult to complete than traditional development. There are more stakeholders and more interests that must be satisfied. But that large difference in consumer spending per hour means that mixed use is good for business as well as good for the community.

The full article can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/11/AR2006111100692.html

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