Mixed-use, my foot!

I don’t know about the rest of my fellow planners out there in cyberspace, but a development that is almost entirely one type of use except for a lone small non-residential space hardly qualifies as a mixed use development in my mind. Several recent and proposed developments in the region consist of close to 100 percent residential uses by number of units and/or by square footage, but are still championing themselves as mixed-use because they have allotted one space to an office or commercial use.  Get real people! I don’t know if there is some magical mixed-use ratio out there, but it seems that the secondary use should achieve at least ten percent and preferably 20-25 percent to reach true mixed-use nirvana. Otherwise, it just seems like advertising and promotional lip service.

Am I wrong on this? Any other thoughts or opinions on this issue would be welcome.

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5 Responses to Mixed-use, my foot!

  1. James Lewis says:

    Rick, you are correct by all means. Mixed use varies City to City etc. but should be what the name entails, “mixed”. When I see a good mixed-use development, it typically has ground level comprising of mixed commercial, office, food/drink establishments etc. while the upper levels of the same building are used for offices and/or residential uses.
    A lot of developments start by saying they are going to be mixed-use or “new urbanist” style to get everyone (or most people) excited and then turn out to be your typical sprawl of loops and lollipops with little street connectivity and little or segregated commercial, office, and other uses besides single family homes or apartments.


  2. Just like “affordable housing” has numbers (aka metrics) associated with it, why not the same with “mixed-use”?

    I forget the exact numbers but for example “workforce affordable” housing is something like housing that costs 30% of income when earning 80-120% of AMI.

    Thus, for mixed use, you group all residential into one category, all office into one category, all retail into one category, etc. the mixed use classifications could have something like:
    95% or more of the development is in one category = mixed use for the uninformed only
    at most 75% of the development is in one category = entry level “real” mixed-use

    The unit of measurement would also need to be defined, such as sq ft or what ever metric is most accurate to all stakeholders, not just to one particular stakeholder.


  3. Arthur Brown says:

    Mixed uses could refer to a zone if your are in a rual area. For example residential homes are mixed with commecial uses that are compatible with the residential use. In this case they could be but are generally located within two different structures on the same parcel or differnet parcels. If you are speaking about urban then you are correct.


  4. Esther Fernandes says:

    It seem that as planners, we often do things that are obviously not good planning. The most convenient thing about living in a city like Mumbai (one of the worst planned or rather not planned cities) is the convenience retail at very street corner. There is not a single street that will not have some sort of shop or road side cart every few meters. These of course are mostly illegal little stalls. However I never imaged how dependent we all are on these stalls till I lived in Sydney and had to travel 1km to the nearest grocery store (unthinkable in Mumbai).

    I agree with Scott. We should have a quantitative product mix for mixed use within developments. The Mumbai development controls require quantitative land allocation towards AOS (amenity open space) & ROS Recreational Open Space but not for commercial to residential. The Green Homes Rating system by the Indian Green Building Council allocates credit points towards developments that are located within 1km of a certain least number of amenities. We need to have this as part of statutory policy to create more efficient living spaces.


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