Monday, May 19, 2014

So-Called Mixed-Use Development

Last week brought news of another mixed-use development coming to Richardson -- Northside at UTD -- and the expansion of another -- Eastside. That's on top of earlier news of two expansions to Richardson's premiere mixed-used development CityLine. First was the announcement that Raytheon would build new offices there. Second was that Whole Foods would anchor a new retail development there.

All this is great news for Richardson. The city is growing. The growth is balanced between commercial and residential. So, why am I not ecstatic? After the jump, my wistful epiphany.

The Wikipedia definition of mixed-use development:
Mixed-use development is -- in a broad sense -- any urban, suburban or village development, or even a single building, that blends a combination of residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, or industrial uses, where those functions are physically and functionally integrated, and that provides pedestrian connections.[1][2] The term ("a mixed-use development") may also be used more specifically to refer to a mixed-use real estate development project—a building, complex of buildings, or district of a town or city that is developed for mixed-use by a private developer, (quasi-) governmental agency, or a combination thereof.
Source: Wikipedia.
I thought I knew what mixed-use meant. Eastside is a development with a bank, a convenience store, some offices, restaurants and apartments -- all in the same buildings. There's even a small central park. To me, Eastside was mixed-use and mixed-use was Eastside. Why? Because I placed emphasis on the "physically and functionally integrated" part of that Wikipedia definition.

Recent Richardson development is teaching me that "mixed-use" doesn't require that the combination of uses in "any urban, suburban or village development, or even a single building" be integrated in the buildings themselves. It's optional. And more and more, integration in individual buildings is being left out of Richardson's mixed-use development.

CityLine: Except for the initial announcement of some restaurants in the ground floor of those State Farm office buildings, everything announced since has been segregated. There are some single-use apartments west of Plano Rd along Renner Rd. Raytheon's single-use office buildings are east of Plano Rd along the Bush Turnpike. Whole Foods will be east of Plano Rd down by Renner Rd. But none of the individual components will be mixed-use themselves.

Northside at UTD: Although it's early, the plans for Northside at UTD seem to indicate apartments on one side of the property and restaurant and retail space on the other side. The only thing mixed-use about it is that the restaurants and residential components are near each other.

Eastside Phase 2: Sadly, expansion plans for this excellent mixed-use development don't seem to build on the mixed-use nature of Phase 1. Concept plans for Phase 2 call for a 15-story office building and two 4-story apartment buildings. No indication of retail. No indication that any of this construction will be "physically and functionally integrated."

I'm learning the hard way that, just like in the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean," the Wikipedia definition of mixed-use development is, like the pirate's code, more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

And that's my wistful epiphany.


Jules said...

The industry calls separated uses by building multi-use, but if the uses (MF, retail, office, etc.) are vertically integrated (stacked) they qualify to be mixed-use. Anyone who says otherwise is like you said wistful thinking or uneducated. Multi-use is much easier to execute, finance and build than vertical integration.

Sassy Texan said...

Richardson Monopoly games:

4 houses = one apartment building with 200 tenants

8 voters transforms to 1 great big campaign contributor.