Rising Demand for Live/Work Housing, Says ULI

2 min read

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorLos Angeles–With almost half (49 percent) of U.S. businesses being operated from home, the house is increasingly becoming the American office, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report from 2006, which is also the latest one available. And there are many more home businesses that have started since the downturn […]

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorLos Angeles–With almost half (49 percent) of U.S. businesses being operated from home, the house is increasingly becoming the American office, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report from 2006, which is also the latest one available. And there are many more home businesses that have started since the downturn began last year, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) revealed at a seminar recently.    Both these factors are making live/work housing increasingly popular, a topic ULI explored at the seminar. “There are so many scenarios with live/work housing,” Karin Liljegren, director of live/work housing for Killefer Flammang Architects, tells MHN. “It could be someone starting up a business, someone with an existing small businesses that do not want to grow, people who’ve been laid off and have decided to do something on their own, people who telecommute and finally people who work in offices but also continue to work at home on laptops and blackberries.” The changing work style of the current generation, according to Liljegren, calls for great flexibility because increasing numbers of people are involved in several occupational pursuits as opposed to the one-job, one-employer paradigm of the 60s,70s and 80s.“The ideal design solution at the outset of development is one which can address a wide variety of   lifestyles,” she says, who has spearheaded the design of more than 2,500 live/work units in such landmarks as the Roosevelt Lofts, The Lofts at Hollywood and Vine and the Old Bank District. Liljegren believes the demand for live/work housing is a perfect storm. “Our society is becoming more individualistic and because of the economy, people are working fewer hours or have been laid off and so they are forced to look at what else they could do,” she says.While this market has mainly been in the 24-44 age category, with the advent of the downturn we expect older empty nesters who are still working to become increasingly interested in this mode of living, says Alex Moradi, managing partner of the ICO Group of Companies and developer of Pacific Electric Lofts in downtown Los Angeles. “The live/work trend will see greater growth in urban rather than suburban areas,” Moradi adds, for two reasons: access to public transportation and the proximity of entertainment and cultural activities, plus recreation at their doorstep. Since these folks are tech savvy, they also are attracted to  the onsite business facilities that enable them to operate in that context,” he says.As for design, there are three basic requisites for live/work projects–open floor plans, flexible use of space and enabling spatial definition for each component of the unit– stated, which has designed about 20 % of the new units downtown in the past decade.Noting that the majority of live/work housing downtown has been produced through adaptive reuse (AR) of existing buildings, Hamid Behdad, known as the “czar of adaptive reuse,” says, “This is just the beginning.”

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