Friday, July 14, 2023
Mixed-use development combines residential, commercial, and office uses into projects that emphasize diversity and community, accessibility to work and shopping, and public space. It is part of a strategy for sustainable development and good urban form, with the objectives of attaining economic vitality, social equity, and environmental quality. A wide variety of zoning alternatives are available, but there is little appreciation of their advantages and disadvantages, how they function, and how zoning should differ with different types of development. Zoning for mixed-use development also is market related, and decisions must be made on the extent to which zoning
should control market development.
Mixed-use development can be planned or unplanned, which is development resulting from the separate, unrelated actions of several different developers. It can also be vertical or horizontal. This article considers horizontal mixed-use development.
Walkability, a multilayered public realm, inclusive living choices, and authenticity are important for planned mixed-use development. Retail space is a major challenge. Decisions must be made on land use mix, design detail, how markets work, and zoning that will support active retail uses. A compact, walkable urban village is recommended, good design and configuration are essential, and vacancies must be controlled. Office space can be integrated with retail space, built separately as individual structures, or included in an office campus. Social objectives include internal trip capture, which is the measure of the number of trips that begin and end in a development, housing cost issues, and racial and income diversity issues.
The structure of zoning is an obstacle because it is designed to prevent the mixing of uses. Authorizing mixed-use development usually requires a zoning change, which may include
discretionary review and approval. A variety of zoning alternatives are available. They include planned unit development, design guidelines, and form-based zoning. Unplanned mixed-use development requires the adoption of zoning districts in which mixed use is permitted, requires attention to scale, and may require a variety of mixed-use districts. Planned mixed-use development requires more zoning detail that can define critical project elements and that may include extensive design controls. Mixed-use zoning can also be used for special development objectives that can include transit-oriented development, mall redevelopment, and live/work units.