mixed-use development: a growing trend
The rise of mixed-use developments offers the opportunity to create sustainable, environmentally friendly, and long-lasting buildings that enhance their surroundings. The neighbourhood and its tenants are provided with a place where people can live, work, and play in the same area.

Mixed-use developments are chosen by communities for a variety of reasons—some see it as a way to incorporate a mix of housing types on a small scale while enhancing traditional town character; others see it as a vehicle for revitalizing struggling areas and catalyst for economic development. As this trend continues, here is a look at what mixed-use developments are and their benefits.

What are mixed-use developments?

Urban spaces are a finite resource, and the habitability and quality of life of the most populated cities can be at risk as a result of increased, poorly-planned density. Mixed-use developments refer to the integration of three or more of the following functions within the same building or complex community: residential, recreational, commercial, offices or workspaces, hotel, or parking.

The merger of these elements forms a community unity which has been shown to increase the social and productive use of the space. Mixed-use developments are usually characterized as pedestrian-friendly, where combined use of spaces offer residents more chances to live, work, and shop - all within the same neighbourhood.

Example of a mixed-use development

The Well will be Toronto’s first true mixed-use project, as a one-of-a-kind development to accommodate the modern workforce, elevate the city’s retail experience, all while providing an array of housing options. The project consists of seven towers, accommodating 350,000 square feet of commercial retail space, 1.2 million square feet in office capacity for an estimated 8,000 workers, and 1.5 million square feet of residential units that includes 1,700 on-site condominiums and apartments, housing approximately 3,000 residents.

According to Alex Edminson, Senior Vice President at CBRE, The Well represents the single most exciting development project in Canadian history.

“Because The Well is being developed within a single phase, residents will have access to a curated community with all amenities available to them on day one, as soon as the project reaches completion. It’s amazing to be a part of such an exciting development – something that will change the flow of the neighbourhood entirely, lending further to its vibrance and growth,” says Edminson.

What are the benefits of mixed-use developments?

In more recent decades, more planners are reconsidering the merits of mixed-use developments as more of a focus has been placed upon sustainable, environmentally friendly, occupant health-focused practices. Mixing the uses of a building can ease access to transit and surrounding amenities, reduce vehicular traffic, and facilitate greater human connection.

Mixed-use developments are practical and sustainable at both the individual level and the larger level of society. It reduces an individual’s reliance on expensive and time-consuming transportation modes, as people can invest dollars they were spending on automobile-related costs into their home or local community. In a broader sense, mixed-use is also a tool for cohesive and lasting community building.