Apr 13, 2020

What to Know About Mixed-Use Space

By Don Catalano


What to Know About Mixed-Use Space
More and more buildings are being billed as having a mixed-use component. This means that instead of only having a single application -- like office or retail -- they combine different applications. You can be in a mixed-use building, or have a mixed-use space. At the same thing, you can find mixed-use spaces in many different types of neighborhoods.

Understanding Mixed-Use Space

Did you visit Lower Manhattan or Downtown Los Angeles around the year 2000?  While these neighborhoods were vibrant during the day, around 5:30 PM at night, they emptied out as people went to their homes or to entertainment districts. They're the typical model of a single-use district. 


Have you ever worked in a suburban low-rise office building? Odds are that you had to get in your car to get lunch or to work out.


These buildings illustrate the inherent challenge in single-use space. You can do one thing, but to do anything else, you have to leave and find another building.


Mixed-use space means that a single building serves different applications. If you think of neighborhood buildings in cities, where you have a store on the ground level, a doctor's office on the second level, and three floors of flats or apartments, you're picturing a classic example of a mixed-use property. Today, mixed-use spaces come in many flavors. You can find buildings that combine retail with offices, a hotel and, on the highest levels, condominiums. Flex properties put call centers next to regional offices next to warehouse or light assembly operations.


The benefit of a mixed-use space is that you can do more things in a single building. Your employees have places to shop and eat. Because more cities are requiring mixed-use development near transit centers, you might also find that they have better access to public transit than traditional single-use office buildings. With the non-traditional working hours that are common in many companies, the 18- or 24-hour nature of many mixed-use properties also makes them more desirable as a place to work from a convenience, leisure and safety perspective.


Mixed-Use Considerations

While mixed-use properties are definitely desirable, they also involve some trade-offs. One of the biggest ones is that many mixed-use buildings do not have the same appearance as a Class A office tower. They may be mid-rise, and they may not have an expansive multi-story marble-clad lobby.  As such, they do not always project the same image as traditional office towers.


Realize that you'll be sharing your building with many different types of tenants. Putting your office right above a coffee shop is convenient. As long as the odors from the roasting and brewing machines under you are properly vented away from your space. You may also have additional types of traffic through the building as people live and play in your building instead of just working there.


Finally, many mixed-use properties have different access to parking. A transit adjacent property might be built with fewer spaces -- which may or may not impact you depending on how your workers get to work.  Your employees could also be competing for parking with retail tenants and residential or hotel guests. As you consider one of these properties, it's important to understand how the parking breaks down.


While mixed-use properties have some real trade-offs, they also have real benefits. They're a cornerstone of healthy community development. Workers love their amenities. And they provide easy transportation options. If they fit your company's needs for space, location, and image, they're well worth considering for your next space.


Here are a few more articles we think you'll like:

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4 Ways to Get a More Flexible Office Lease

How IoT Can Help Transform Office Space


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Don Catalano

Don Catalano