Housing options used to be fairly clean-cut; home shoppers in the baby boomer era chose between the glam of a sky-rise apartment or the stability of a suburban cottage. However, the last few years have introduced a hybrid option—the mixed-use community—which is fast becoming real estate’s newest darling. Mixed-use communities offer a combination of residential and commercial amenities that provide a “live, work, play” lifestyle in one central location. As one of 2015’s leading real estate trends, these burgeoning developments are leaving their mark on the industry. Here’s how:
1. Change in Transportation Infrastructure
The mixed-use community draws a demographic that prizes an active, healthy lifestyle and alternative forms of transportation, like biking and walking. In fact, nearly 60 percent of home buyers seek a home with “walkable” access to a variety of amenities, a trend that is prompting architects and land planners to incorporate trail systems and pedestrian access points. The distinct shift away from traditional automobile travel has spurred a demand for ride sharing apps—like Uber and Lyft—as well as stronger public transportation systems.
2. Increase in “Walkable” Options
Mixed-use developments have morphed into the modern “one-stop-shop” experience. The commercial milieu includes not only standard vendors, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, but also luxury lifestyle options, like boutiques, microbreweries, farm-to-table restaurants and spa retreats. Each mixed-use offering functions like its own micro-economy, providing residents with a full gamut of conveniences within walking distance.
3. Focus on Sense of Community
From baby boomers to millennials, the mixed-use demographic shares an interest in cultivating community. The live/work/play premise naturally imparts a sense of belonging and ownership, and residents look for shared experiences that offer connectivity and foster relationships. Everything from interest groups—like running clubs—to community-wide festivals are on the rise as hallmarks of mixed-use developments.
Communication: A Cornerstone of the Mixed-Use Model
At its core, the mixed-use community seeks to create a distinct place where people can lead vibrant lives in ways that are personally meaningful. Connectivity and integration are trademarks of these communities, and as a result, the mixed-use model relies on dynamic communication to fuel its livelihood.
Mixed-use communities have a strong opportunity to utilize online tools to connect with residents. An effective social media strategy, for example, would encourage conversation, foster community, incite action and facilitate self-sustaining connections—like meetup groups and walking clubs. Property managers could benefit from mobile apps that provide access to community-specific inventory and schedules. In addition, targeted messaging and community relations are vital to provide a rich picture of the community’s appeal to potential home buyers.
In order to continue this upward trajectory, mixed-use communities will need to build and implement a strong communications strategy that foster relationships and maximize connectivity.
Editor’s Note: Clairemont has enjoyed the pleasure of working with Newland Communities, the nation’s largest private residential real estate developer, as it has launched several vibrant mixed-use communities across North Carolina, including Briar Chapel and the upcoming Wendell Falls.