Perspective: Blending Residential with Mixed-Use

6 min read

under controlled access. The residents often employ a separate approach as they find their way home by way of their car through what is most likely a secured path through gated parking executions.The property management function, whether that be leasing or building concierge, would prefer to have direct access “in line” with the friendly movement […]

under controlled access. The residents often employ a separate approach as they find their way home by way of their car through what is most likely a secured path through gated parking executions.The property management function, whether that be leasing or building concierge, would prefer to have direct access “in line” with the friendly movement and overview of service traffic with some measure of detachment.The visitor and prospect both will measure their opinion of the property and its residents by how they are treated in their first encounter with the campus. Single-use campuses allow that to occur with little difficulty by providing visitor spaces outside the security boundary or requiring contact with the resident or property security by virtue of control entry phone as a condition of access. Mixed-use developments can find some of the traffic to the door to be misdirected, some of the traffic needing to be redirected to other gates or entry ports, and some of the traffic seeking entry without detection. Combined, there results a contradiction between the hardening and control demands of traffic management and the soft and invitational feel of a welcoming experience. The best solutions result when visitor and prospect access is clear, direct and inviting while managed with personnel at all hours such that courtesy and helpfulness will complement the setting. This requires staff suitably trained in the human components of the job. Such staffing is, however, often more than the property can support relying upon devices to intervene in their behalf.Control entries with telephone managed gate releases are best done with video surveillance. Today’s technology has made that component less expensive to implement. It can be independent or part of the cable TV or Internet service systems within the building or campus. Area in front of the resident security gate should be limited in size and openly transparent so as to discourage its unwanted use. Waiting and lounging areas should be placed within, so quick access is approved or rejected, limiting loitering in the pre-security location.When management offices are at the property, they should be offered oversight of this area and independent access to their domain without movement through the resident’s secured zone of the property.The service demands in vertically mixed-use buildings are often unsightly street events. Garbage compactors, loading docks and utility access points are the least desirable occupancies of important street faces of any building. Their location should be with a view to the least traveled face of the building, away from resident and guest arrivals. If this cannot be accomplished, the screening or gating of these conditions might be important to preserving a friendly condition from the pedestrian perspective. When grade and ground water conditions permit, they should seek the lowest points on the perimeter and potentially be further depressed to bring them below street grade, even by a few feet, making them less conspicuous to the public way.Privacy: Consider visual, sound, odor and vibration elementsPrivacy is measured in many ways, all attached to the senses. Visual privacy, sound privacy, odor management, and even vibration isolation can be concerns in mixed-use settings. Residential placements over or next to such uses as restaurants, nightclubs, garage entries, parking areas, and service areas, can challenge the sanctity of the resident domain. In the more intense mixed-use and urban applications, the streets that form acoustic canyons can also amplify sounds what otherwise would go unnoticed.In the more intense setting, the resident expects a lowering of their privacy by some measure, but similarly they also desire and find more satisfaction in greater performance when it can be offered. Consider the following: • Stronger sound separation between units and between corridors and units are areas of critical demands. • Hardened exterior walls with double pane windows and well-insulated door assemblies together with dense wall constructions with soundproofing qualities. • Remote placement of exhaust hoods and fans discharging air from objectionable sources away from dwellings and outdoor living areas. • Well-considered placements of windows with regard to view lines from not only ground but also elevated adjacencies. • Low bulkhead railing assemblies that screen the first 16” above balcony floors from lower views. Amenities: Combination of adjacent uses and internal amenitiesProperly blended mixed-use developments consider the adjacent uses to the residential occupancy to be amenities. The proximity to shopping, office and entertainment are the best feature of the solutions. The profile of other uses and their independent vitality contribute greatly to the power of persuasion they can bring to the consumer deliberation on the residential product. Notwithstanding these adjacencies, the residential component still requires some modicum of amenity groomed for their internal use alone. Suburban mixed-use facilities will likely not see attrition in amenity offering from any non mixed-use execution. The urban counterpart will often minimize the demands on common area as concerns of site availability may limit what outdoor or even indoor activities can be hosted within. In both however, some of the amenities can be positioned so they do double duty. If they are well conceived and executed, they provide both resident amenities and area benefits to others not living within. By example, a fitness facility that could include free weights, aerobic machines, exercise floor and even court play functions such as hand ball, racquet ball, or basketball, could be positioned where independent access and memberships could be offered to non-residents, thus potentially supporting dedicated staff and personal services in addition to the space and equipment components. Similarly, personal services such as car care, pet walking, housekeeping, and laundry pickup could be extended to other non-resident occupancies within the mixed-use setting. Finally, personal services not usually found in multifamily developments such as hairstylist, tanning or nail salons, masseuse, and personal trainers can find great synergy by locating facilities with both easy public and residential access. Combined, the measure of active service amenities can often grow, and resident benefit will perform equivalently.Mixed-use including residential is perhaps the best assembly in this complex approach to development, as it embeds the demand generators permanently on campus while giving residents area features that cannot be found in normal suburban or specially zoned district executions. The residential component is thus the animated lifeline that assures the street vitality and ultimate appeal to all who locate there, whether residential or otherwise. It also interacts well with all who come there, whether residential visitor or business visitor, seeking an environment that complements the product or service offering they desire. Considering the residential element must place its concerns as a major measure of how the mixed-use executions function. Well considered, the resident benefits and their presence and energy will further the vitality of `the places that bring distinction and value to all who use them.

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