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Thread: Urban sprawl

  1. #1
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    Urban sprawl

    Looking for thoughts on increasing mixed use projects with retail on bottom and housing on top. Single family housing developments seem to me to be on the way out. Mixed use appears to be good for the environment.

    Thanks
    Trevor

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ceqaguide View post
    Looking for thoughts on increasing mixed use projects with retail on bottom and housing on top.
    My immediate thought is I see a lot of commercial vacancies in such projects and IIRC Seattle had a lot of problems with occupancy - oversupply, perhaps.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Mixed use developments are not always successful because they are often badly located or don't have enough residential development within or around them to create a first floor commercial demand. Mixed use developments can be located in the middle of commercial blocks that are currently underdeveloped -- an old building being used as an auto garage or an ethnic market --, where there is no incentive without a lot of residential development to take a building that is long time paid for and risk a new loan on a new commercial building. Cities need to allow a minimum of two floors of residential above commercial and more likely three to four to make the mixed use development work. You also have to be willing to have rental units rather than for sale condominiums. Unless you are in a prosperous downtown location, few people want to buy on top of a suburban commercial building but will rent. Start the process of getting mixed use by coming up with an aggressive zoning ordinance that looks more at the structure than the uses -- i.e. form based codes rather than densities. Try to locate near transit -- rail or bus rapid transit (BRT) and more than anything else, be flexible and let the marketplace dictate a lot of what happens.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ceqaguide View post
    Looking for thoughts on increasing mixed use projects with retail on bottom and housing on top. Single family housing developments seem to me to be on the way out. Mixed use appears to be good for the environment.
    What makes you think it is on the way out? Is it because there are not many housing start ups? Did school teach ya this? The American dream is still to own a single family house. Period, end of story. Our tax structure and our culture continue to push this, and so does the market. If you stated that people are now beginning to re-examine the City versus the exurbs/suburbs, then yes, the trends are heading that way.

    As for mixed-use tends to be good for the environment, how so? Most traffic studies tend to side a "reduction" of trips in theory, but in practice? Who knows. One can make the same argument that higher density housing or housing near the downtown or central commercial areas that is "walkable" will have the same effect environmentally (and this is just assuming AQ is a "good for the environment") but in the end "mixed use" is not the end all of uses that are "good for the environment".
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

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    Good Feedback

    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    What makes you think it is on the way out? Is it because there are not many housing start ups? Did school teach ya this? The American dream is still to own a single family house. Period, end of story. Our tax structure and our culture continue to push this, and so does the market. If you stated that people are now beginning to re-examine the City versus the exurbs/suburbs, then yes, the trends are heading that way.

    As for mixed-use tends to be good for the environment, how so? Most traffic studies tend to side a "reduction" of trips in theory, but in practice? Who knows. One can make the same argument that higher density housing or housing near the downtown or central commercial areas that is "walkable" will have the same effect environmentally (and this is just assuming AQ is a "good for the environment") but in the end "mixed use" is not the end all of uses that are "good for the environment".
    Great feedback! You are 100% right on the American Dream. But what happens as people continue to live longer and population increases? How do planners and developers adapt to the change? Thanks for reading

  6. #6
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Without a critical mass of demand, one cannot afford the now required elevators for second floor living.

  7. #7
    At this moment in time, there is no demand for any new construction, so its hardly a good tie to judge the relative worth of different types of development. Also, the US has far too much commercial space so that affects the ability to find tenants for a place, regardless of its type.

    It does seem like there is a strong demand in many places for mixed use development or having commercial areas within walking distance of housing, though this depends on the quality of the commercial area, I would bet. Who wants to walk to a strip mall? Or a major arterial lined with acres of parking?

    But I would bet that in most places over a certain size, say 10,000 or 25,000, there is an unmet demand for mixed use and close in walkable neighborhoods.

    I haven't heard of any development numbers not working because of a need for elevators.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    What makes you think it is on the way out? Is it because there are not many housing start ups? Did school teach ya this? The American dream is still to own a single family house. Period, end of story. Our tax structure and our culture continue to push this, and so does the market. If you stated that people are now beginning to re-examine the City versus the exurbs/suburbs, then yes, the trends are heading that way.

    As for mixed-use tends to be good for the environment, how so? Most traffic studies tend to side a "reduction" of trips in theory, but in practice? Who knows. One can make the same argument that higher density housing or housing near the downtown or central commercial areas that is "walkable" will have the same effect environmentally (and this is just assuming AQ is a "good for the environment") but in the end "mixed use" is not the end all of uses that are "good for the environment".
    Our culture does not continue to push this, unless you are living in a backward area. And, our tax structure is just as happy with condos. as it is with detached houses.

    The demographic shifts are overwhelming. A surplus of 40% in the single-family housing market is expected by 2030.

    Mixed-use is preferable to single-use because one of the principal advantages of higher densities is a convenient location to amenities. And, ground-floor retail has the advantage of activating street frontages and enhancing walkability. Moreover, easy access to high-quality transit and an environment that puts pedestrians, cyclists, and N.E.V. users first does reduce V.M.T., especially when combined with car sharing and limited parking.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    What makes you think it is on the way out? Is it because there are not many housing start ups? Did school teach ya this? The American dream is still to own a single family house. Period, end of story. Our tax structure and our culture continue to push this, and so does the market. If you stated that people are now beginning to re-examine the City versus the exurbs/suburbs, then yes, the trends are heading that way.
    We'll see if our changing economy supports this assertion, as well as $5/gal gas and changing demographics.


    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    As for mixed-use tends to be good for the environment, how so? Most traffic studies tend to side a "reduction" of trips in theory, but in practice? Who knows.
    The literature knows. In general the mixed-use, proximate to stuff developments have lower TPD and VMT. IIRC latest (or one before that) JAPA has a paper on this.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    Our culture does not continue to push this, unless you are living in a backward area.
    If our culture does not continue to push this, then how come SFR continues to be developed with a substantial profit in majority of communities (albeit large metros). It's not backwards, it is simple economics. Supply and Demand, with all things held consistent.

    Look, i wish i could plan more density communities too, please do not get me wrong. However, I have worked as a consultant and know all too well there is a bottom dollar to meet, and higher density housing typically does not meet the profit margin in most communities, particularly rural and small ones.

    Just checking realities here.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Pragmatic Idealist View post
    ...The demographic shifts are overwhelming. A surplus of 40% in the single-family housing market is expected by 2030....
    I might like to believe this, but I can't justify more than a slowing demand for single family, attributable in part to the growth in older age cohorts, and the increasingly unaffordable nature of detached single family homes. Single family remains the preference of a majority of households, including older households who prefer to retain their independence well into their 70's. Dense mixed-use neighborhoods are gaining momentum, but are a choice of a minority of empty nesters and singles/young couples who tend to move into single family suburban locations with good schools once they begin forming families. We can't expect that to change.

    I do think that we will see a shift in the places considered desirable within metropolitan areas. Places closer to employment will lead the list, but then, what does that mean in an environment where employment is no longer concentrated?
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    At this moment in time, there is no demand for any new construction, so its hardly a good tie to judge the relative worth of different types of development. Also, the US has far too much commercial space so that affects the ability to find tenants for a place, regardless of its type.

    It does seem like there is a strong demand in many places for mixed use development or having commercial areas within walking distance of housing, though this depends on the quality of the commercial area, I would bet. Who wants to walk to a strip mall? Or a major arterial lined with acres of parking?

    But I would bet that in most places over a certain size, say 10,000 or 25,000, there is an unmet demand for mixed use and close in walkable neighborhoods.

    I haven't heard of any development numbers not working because of a need for elevators.
    I also believe that the long-term market-based trend is in the 'back to the future' direction with higher residential densities and less aversion to low-intensity/light commercial in primarily residential areas (and away from the more strict and often misguided 'Euclidian' zoning codes) and as I have mentioned before, one of the BIG wild cards in this all will be the market for transportation fuel.

    Mike

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