A transformation is underway in Buffalo, New York, and its suburbs creating demand for mixed use developments. Projects that blend residential, commercial and recreational uses. The original development model of diverse activity in one location, as seen in numerous historic cities and towns, is being reinvented for modern living. People from various demographic groups see the conveniences and advantages of a lifestyle that allows them to blend their living, work and leisure activities in a central locale. As a result, mixed use developments offering a built-in “micro-community” are taking hold.
Bound for Buffalo
A popular trend for years in major cities and coastal areas where land is at a premium, mixed use space has made its way to Western New York. It is now being embraced by locals as well as ex-patriots returning home to join Buffalo’s renaissance. Commercial developers are also welcoming this approach. We now have the ability to provide high-density residential, office space and retail space under one roof. This results in more dynamic and vibrant projects across our cities.
A major driver for mixed use development is the growing desire for work-life “integration” among professionals. Convenience is paramount.
Mixed use environments are also popular among commercial tenants because they help attract and retain employees. Service providers eagerly lease their own spaces onsite, leveraging the sizable number of “built-in” customers in each community. Examples include grocers, restaurants, banks, coffee shops, gyms, day care centers, pharmacies, dry cleaners and hotels.
Enjoy the Space
Mixed use properties sometimes provide or are situated adjacent to public green space. Think mini-gardens or pocket parks with landscaping, natural light and seating. These communal spaces can provide a quiet zone or host free yoga classes, farmers’ markets, food trucks or live music. Incorporating these conveniences into commercial real estate is driving mixed use residential and retail demand.
Fewer Car Trips
Speaking of driving, most of us are looking to do a lot less of it. Many people prefer to work, shop and socialize within walking or biking distance of home when possible. This leads to lower auto expenses such as insurance, maintenance and gas. Mixed use properties offer residents greater conveniences, healthier lifestyles, increased safety and build relationships. They encourage us to take ownership of our entire neighborhood , not just our own plot of land. Research shows that leaving cars behind increases our connections in the community. This allows us to increase opportunities to meet and interact with others.
The benefits don’t stop there. According to the American Planning Association, mixed use development:
- Allows for greater housing variety and density;
- Encourages more compact development;
- Strengthens neighborhood character and sense of place; and
- Promotes pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly environments.