business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports on the mixed prospects that may face mixed-use developments.

From the Times story:

"Mixed-use projects have been a hallmark of the country’s urban renaissance over the past couple of decades. They are often thriving complexes built with an ecosystem of residences, offices, plazas, hotels, shops and restaurants. Developers like them for the scope, and business owners like them for the round-the-clock density of people.

"In some cases, these projects have transformed whole areas: The 28-acre Hudson Yards over an old train yard brought new life to an underused corner of Manhattan, and the 56-acre Water Street Tampa in Florida will connect the city’s downtown with its waterfront. In general, they have helped define the live-work-play ethos that many younger professionals seek in cities.

"But the coronavirus threatens to upend the allure of retail and restaurants in these developments. Safety concerns and a changing patchwork of state and local virus-related regulations have led developers to rethink the layouts and designs of such areas. Ideas coming to the fore could be around for years, or they could start to fade away at the first sign of a coronavirus vaccine."

On the other hand, mixed use continues to be an attractive model to developers, since it spreads out their bets - a development isn't dependent just on retail, or just on office space, or just on housing.

KC's View:

This isn't just big mixed use developments.  In my little Connecticut town (population, about 20,000), there are three separate such developments in various stages of progress, and I would imagine that these folks have to be rethinking what the changed world means in terms of the real estate balance, the allocation of space, and the degree to which certain safeguards have to be built in just in case.

One advantage these suburban mixed use developments may have is the ability to provide certain desirable urban-style amenities that people still want while still offering greater space and access to things like fresh air that suddenly seemed a lot more important and attractive during the pandemic.