Monday, November 24, 2014

Eastside Gives Up on Mixed-Use

Eastside Gives Up on Mixed-Use. That's not what Steve Brown says, but it would be an accurate headline for his story in The Dallas Morning News, despite his own characterization of plans at Eastside as "mixed-use":
Developers in Richardson have disclosed details of the first phase of a prominent new mixed-use development on North Central Expressway.
The planned apartment and office project is part of the Eastside development located near the southeast corner of North Central and Campbell Road.
After the jump, why the Eastside expansion is not mixed-use.

The existing Eastside is the primary mixed-use development in Richardson. It's great. Apartments, multiple restaurants, a convenience store, a bank, a stock broker, and a common plaza are all within walking distance of each other in the very same block, sometimes even in the same building. That's mixed-use. That's Eastside today.

Now look at the expansion. What Steve Brown is calling "the first phase of a prominent new mixed-use development" is a 280-unit, 4-story apartment building. No restaurants planned, no shops planned. Ever. Not even a separate office building until some undefined time later. Nothing in the same block other than the apartment complex's private courtyard, swimming pool and parking garage, where presumably you can keep your car handy so you can drive to all those places you need to go when you're not swimming.

Look, the new apartments are probably going to be very nice. They might even be popular, fetching high rents. It just bugs me that every development today is called "mixed-use" when there's nothing mixed-use about it at all. Putting up an apartment complex, saying you plan to build an office building in the next block, and calling the whole thing mixed-use is a misuse of the term.

If the Eastside expansion is mixed-use, then what would you call a development like the original Eastside, where the mix of uses is all within walking distance of each other, in fact all in the same buildings? I've been calling that mixed-use, but obviously developers have usurped the term for more traditional development of separate apartments, offices and standalone retail stores. I call for mixed-use, I get the new Eastside expansion, and I'm sure the powers that be believe they are giving me what I want. So, I'm looking for a new term to quit confusing everyone about what it is I really want. Suggestions?

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