Defining Mixed-Use Development

September 18, 2014

Today, many people are moving to neighborhoods that allow them to live, work, shop, and play, all within walking distance. It is apparent that attitudes are slowly trending toward mixed-use developments. A mixed-use development is a blend of residential, cultural and commercial, among others including institutional and industrial, that physically and functionally allow residents to live in “walkable” neighborhoods, cutting down on commuting whether for work or play.


Mixed-use developments, are not new, but they began experiencing a revival after having been restricted by modern zoning laws of the early twentieth century that assigned land use by function.  In the 1960’s and 70’s mixed-use re-emerged as a way to promote urban revitalization.  Mixed-use as we see it today, takes lessons from the past and incorporates them with contemporary development needs.  Today, mixed-use developments are key factors in current trends, including Transit Oriented Development (TOD), Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND), Livable Communities, and Smart Growth Principles.


Several factors are driving the trend.  With the growth of online shopping, retailers are downsizing in terms of both store size and storage space because there is no longer the same demand for floor space or on-site inventory.   Generation Y and Baby Boomers are also prominent in the drive to expand the demand for mixed-use development.  Generation Y has shown that they prefer neighborhoods that allow for “walkability” and aging Baby Boomers, who will continue to lose mobility, increasingly want their homes to be near grocery stores, healthcare facilities, and other establishments that cater to their daily needs.


There are many benefits to mixed-use developments, the top one possibly being a pedestrian, bicycle-friendly environment.  Also important are stronger neighborhood character, increased housing options, the reduction of auto dependence, greater housing variety and density, more compact developments, and reduced distance between housing, workplaces, retail, and entertainment.


Overall, it appears that the trend toward mixed-use developments will continue, with an increasing demand for “walkable” neighborhoods.  Developers will need to be flexible and adaptable in order to stay relevant and municipalities will need to lower barriers to mixed-use developments.  The mixed-use trend requires a shift to meet the needs of the changing taste and needs of the target markets.


To learn more about Cicero’s Development, visit our website at, or contact our founder, Sam J. Cicero at (630) 417-0927.




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