Mixed Life, Mixed Use

As office hours get longer — thanks to the longer ...

As office hours get longer — thanks to the longer work week and always being available via cell phone, e-mail and other things that ring and beep — personal time is getting shorter. It’s hard to find a balance between both.

Your local developer may be able to help. Mixed-use developments featuring stores and restaurants have, in the past, addressed our lack of free time, providing "one-stop shopping" (sometimes literally). And now, mixed-use communities are evolving to tackle the tenacious balance between work and what happens when work ends for the day.

Two interesting examples:

  • The "Busidence." Although it was originally designed as a shopping mall, apartment and hospital structure, Bahçelievler-Istanbul’s Metroport development has been redesigned as a residence for businessmen. Twenty-five units, ranging from 110 to 400 square meters, offering scenic and coastal views are currently on the market, priced from 125,000 to 795,000, according to the Turkish Daily News.

Common in Tokyo, London and New York, a busidence is sort of condohotel/corporate apartment mix — giving busy workers an efficient work and living space that feels like home (complete with health center, sports facility and a restaurant).

The complex has space for meeting with clients and a home office. And should you travel frequently for business, the Metroport — just 10 minutes from the local airport — is also working out a deal with Turkish Airlines to allow residents to check in for flights without ever leaving the building.

  • Employee Communities. Faced with a high cost of living in Dubai, the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) created a 406,000-square-foot residential community for its employees in Ras Al Khor, Albawaba.com reports.

The community offers 794 studio, 1- and 2-bedroom units, along with a multi-purpose entertainment complex containing gymnasiums and indoor game facilities for employee’s families.

The complex also contains a medical center for both emergencies and minor aliments; a restaurant, supermarket, laundry facilities and an Internet cafe.

"Finding quality accommodation that is reasonably priced is one of the major concerns for people working in Dubai nowadays," WTC Director General Helal Saeed Al Marri said. "By designing this community, we have given our employees housing which is extremely affordable and includes all the necessary elements for a comfortable stay."

Shuttle buses will take employees to the office.

The real estate markets in Istanbul and Dubai are anything but slow. When Turkey passed legislation five years ago allowing foreigners to buy property, it gave the real estate market — bolstered by Turkey’s low cost of living, easy purchasing process and availability of Mediterranean vacation homes — a shot in the arm.

Foreigners have since spent more than $7.2 billion buying 30,000 homes, according to the Turkish government. In fact, foreigner property sales increased by 59 percent to $2.9 billion, BusinessWeek reported.

Likewise, Dubai is on the upswing: With recent population surges, estimates place the total value of Dubai real estate projects over the next 10 years at $230 billion.

Speed vs. Need

Developers, take note: These two developments are excellent examples of tailoring a project to its target audience.

Not only does determining who specifically is most likely to buy units in your development help with sales marketing efforts, it will help with a development’s longevity.

Even in booming real estate markets, it’s important to avoid quickly planning new developments to capitalize on the local housing need — a temptation for any developer. Carefully planning new mixed-used developments can help ensure their pre-sale rate. And more importantly, it can facilitate their future resale success.

When those local markets dip (and they will at some point), mixed-use complexes with strong ties to a specific group are likely to fare better than luxury developments and generic new residential complexes that are designed (and marketed) for the general public. Location is always a selling point; and a residence custom-designed to suit your lifestyle will always have appeal.

It’s hard to think about tough times when the market is high. But to provide buyers and investors with the best possible investment — and safeguard yourself, should things dip before expected — it’s absolutely imperative.