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Would mixed-use zoning be right for your development?

If you are in the real estate development business, then you know that you need to keep track of what the people who will occupy your property want. In the past, municipalities had zones clearly defined as residential areas, industrial areas and business areas. In recent years, that has changed. More people want to live, work, shop and enjoy entertainment all within the same area. As such, mixed-use areas are more popular, which means that you may need to consider this zoning option for your development.

Types of mixed-use areas

If you haven't yet considered a mixed-use development, you may or may not be familiar with the different types listed below:

  • Horizontal mixed-use areas contain several buildings used for a single purpose. They are clustered together to provide a myriad of goods, services and perhaps housing that complement each other such as a grocery store, a doctor's office, and condominiums or apartments.
  • Vertical mixed-use buildings include retail, offices and living areas all in the same building but on different floors.
  • Walkable neighborhoods combine both horizontal and vertical mixed-use structures that allow residents, consumers and workers to enjoy everything within a short walking distance.

The more needs you can meet through your development, the wider your tenant pool will be. You could argue that most towns and cities began as mixed-use developments, but over time, that changed. It seems as though people are wanting to return to those roots.

Mixed-use zoning has its benefits and its disadvantages

As you can imagine, these types of communities could help jump-start or revive economic growth in areas previously zoned only for one purpose. For instance, old industrial areas that companies no longer use could be repurposed for a mixed-use neighborhood, which would breathe new life into the area. More people want amenities they can't necessarily get in more traditional residential areas, and they want them close by. A mixed-use development could provide you with a lucrative venture as well.

Of course, you will need to convince investors and lenders that such a development makes sense, which can present a challenge. In addition, designing such an area could require more outside-the-box thinking. Then there is the fact that you may have to convince the local government that rezoning the area would be in its best interests. This is where the advice and assistance of an experienced zoning law attorney could prove invaluable.

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