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Traditional mixed-use development: residential and retail, pedestrian-friendly street in Bitola, North Macedonia

Mixed-use development or often simply Live-work space is a type of urban development strategy for living spaces (housing) that blends residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, or entertainment uses, where those functions are physically and functionally integrated, and that provides pedestrian connections.[1][2] Mixed-use development can take the form of a single building, a city block, or entire neighbourhoods. The term may also be used more specifically to refer to a mixed-use real estate development project—a building, complex of buildings, or district of a town or city that is developed for mixed-use by a private developer, (quasi-) governmental agency, or a combination thereof.

Traditionally, human settlements have developed in mixed-use patterns. However, with industrialisation as well as the invention of the skyscraper, governmental zoning regulations were introduced to separate different functions, such as manufacturing, from residential areas. In the United States, the heyday of separate-use zoning was after World War II, but since the 1990s, mixed-use zoning has once again become desirable as the benefits are recognized.[3]

In most of Europe, government policy has encouraged the continuation of the city center's role as a main location for business, retail, restaurant, and entertainment activity, unlike in the United States where zoning actively discouraged such mixed use for many decades. As a result, much of Europe's central cities are mixed use "by default" and the term "mixed-use" is much more relevant regarding new areas of the city, when an effort is made to mix residential and commercial activities – such as in Amsterdam's Eastern Docklands – rather than separate them.[4][5]


Planning for mixed useEdit



One of the earliest cities to adopt a policy on Mixed-use development is Toronto, Ontario .The local government first played a role in 1986 with a zoning bylaw that allowed for commercial and residential units to be mixed. At the time, Toronto was in the beginning stages planning a focus on developing mixed-use development due to a growing popularity of more social housing . The law has since been updated as recently as 2013, refining much of its focus outside the downtown area which has been amalgamated into the main city since 1998. With the regulations in place, the city has oversaw the development of high-rise condominiums throughout the city with the supply of amenities and transit stops nearby. Toronto case of developing Mixed-uses has expand to encompass other North American cities in Canada and The United States to bring in similar changes.[6]

United StatesEdit

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collaborates with local governments by providing researchers developing new data that estimates how a city can be impacted by Mixed-use development. With the EPA putting models in the spreadsheet, it makes it much easier for municipalities, and developers to estimate the traffic, with Mixed-use spaces. The linking models also used as a resource tool measures the geography, demographics, and land use characteristics in a city. The Environmental Protection Agency has conducted an analysis on six major metropolitan areas using land usage, household surveys, and GIS databases. States such as California, Washington, New Mexico, and Virginia has adopted this standard as statewide policy when assessing how urban developments can impact traffic. Preconditions for the success of Mixed-use developments is employment, population, and consumer spending. The three preconditions ensures that a development can attract quality tenants and financial success. Other factors determining the success of the Mixed-use development is the proximity of production time, and the costs from the surrounding market.[7]

Skyline of Toronto, Ontario featuring Condominiums


Mixed-use spaces developed in Portland, Oregon

Mixed-use zones has been implemented in Portland, Oregon since the early 1990's as the local government was trying to figure out how to lower auto oriented development which was prominent in the city at the time. In the state of Oregon alone, that housing must provide a clear objective towards design review. The city of Portland bureau of Planning and Sustainability has released a report in 2014 discussing the development trends in the city. The report eventuates the development of mixed-use spaces mainly by focusing on the city center and its corridors. Portland's light rail system, MAX provides the encouragement of mixing up residential, commercial, and work spaces into one zone. With this one zoning planning system, the use of land at increased densities provides a return in public investments throughout the city. Main street corridors provide flexible building heights and high density uses to provide opportunities for gathering places.[8]

The Features of Mixed-usesEdit

Outdoor SpaceEdit

Mixed-use development allows the creation of plazas and outdoor corridors between buildings and sidewalks. Street facing facades have a maximum setback to how much space is allocated for pedestrians to gather in. Landscaping another feature in outdoor spaces allow trees and plants to grow on buildings vertically rather than being faced out in a front row.[8]

Public Infrastructure

Mixed-use in centers that have increased in population density has allowed people to access places through public transit and has helped encourage walking, biking, and cycling to places of work and errands. Transportation has played a role in mitigating climate change by reducing congestion on roads and building up freight movement for goods and services. With street-level design in place in cities like Boston, Seattle, and Denver Mixed-uses allowed the designs of pedestrian walkways, plazas, and eye distances to shops and workplaces. This in turn has reduced parking lots in alleyways and garages.[8]

Historic Preservation

Older cities such as Chicago and San Francisco landmark preservation policies to allow more flexibility on older buildings being reused as third spaces.[9]


Benefits of mixed-use development include:[3][10]

  • greater housing variety and density, more affordable housing (smaller units), life-cycle housing (starter homes to larger homes to senior housing)
    * Mixed-use Towers in Chicago
  • walkable neighborhoods
  • reduced distances between housing, workplaces, retail businesses, and other amenities and destinations
  • better access to fresh, healthy foods (as food retail and farmers markets can be accessed on foot/bike or by transit)
  • more compact development, land-use synergy (e.g. residents provide customers for retail which provide amenities for residents)
  • stronger neighborhood character, sense of place

Urban RenewalEdit

While traditional zoning development focuses on separating commercial, residential, and recreational areas, Mixed-use development encourages the fill up of land use. With sparsely populated land, there is lack of pressure to density. The lack of urban renewal has led to urban decay, more fuel consumption, and racial ghettos. Mixed-use development on Brownfield lands has transformed sites into more sustainable populated centers as a result of economic factors being draw in to redevelop.[9]

The Bloomingdale Line which was originally an elevated railway line has been converted into a High-line park in 2015.

Types of contemporary mixed-use zoningEdit

Some of the more frequent mixed-use scenarios in the United States are:[2]

  • Neighborhood commercial zoning – convenience goods and services, such as convenience stores, permitted in otherwise strictly residential areas
  • Main Street residential/commercial – two to three-story buildings with residential units above and commercial units on the ground floor facing the street
  • Urban residential/commercial – multi-story residential buildings with commercial and civic uses on ground floor
  • Office convenience – office buildings with small retail and service uses oriented to the office workers
  • Office/residential – multi-family residential units within office building(s)
  • Shopping mall conversion – residential and/or office units added (adjacent) to an existing standalone shopping mall
  • Retail district retrofit – retrofitting of a suburban retail area to a more village-like appearance and mix of uses
  • Live/work – residents can operate small businesses on the ground floor of the building where they live
  • Studio/light industrial – residents may operate studios or small workshops in the building where they live
  • Hotel/residence – mix hotel space and high-end multi-family residential
  • Parking structure with ground-floor retail
  • Single-family detached home district with standalone shopping center

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Business Geography and New Real Estate Market Analysis, Grant Ian Thrall, p.216
  2. ^ a b "Quality Growth Toolkit: Mixed-use Development" (PDF). Atlanta Regional Commission. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-11-28.
  3. ^ a b "American Planning Association, "Planning and Community Health Research Center: Mixed Use Development". Archived from the original on 2013-02-07. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
  4. ^ Hirt, Sonia (2012). "Mixed Use by Default". Journal of Planning Literature. 27 (4): 375–393. doi:10.1177/0885412212451029.
  5. ^ Hoppenbrouwer, Eric; Louw, Erik (2005). "Mixed-use development: Theory and practice in Amsterdam's Eastern Docklands". European Planning Studies. 13 (7): 967–983. doi:10.1080/09654310500242048.
  6. ^ "Planning for Mixed Use: Affordable for Whom?" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Mixed-Use Trip Generation Model". 2013-04-28.
  8. ^ a b c "Mixed Use Zones Project Assessment Report . City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Oct. 2014".
  9. ^ a b [Laitos, Jan G., and Teresa H. Abel. "The Role of Brownfields as Sites for Mixed use Development Projects in America and Britain." Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, vol. 40, no. 1-3, 2011, pp. 492. "The Role of Brownfields as Sites for Mixed use Development Projects in America and Britain"] Check |url= value (help).
  10. ^ "Mixed Use Zoning", Livable New York Resource Manual

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit