Mixed-use developments are all about embracing the needs of the community and creating a lifestyle for the residents that choose to make a particular place their home.
For developers, they are about bringing a vision to life that is representative of the people who will be living, working and playing there. Their aim is to offer valuable amenities, and as many positive outcomes as possible for local communities.
It all begins, in the very earliest stages, with an intensive research process that focuses on community wellbeing.
“First we must identify a need. What does the community need or want?” says Dave Pitblado, Director of Real Estate Development at The Alinea Group. “It’s basic supply and demand, plus an analysis of what more can we bring to the table that may benefit the community.”
Market research and consultation with the local council who know the area and residents best is the starting point.
The Planning Act does allow applications for amendments to the zoning by-laws and official plan designation, where there is sufficient merit. “This is important, as the development planning world is in a constant state of flux. Flexibility is paramount. Planning policy changes, market changes, unique opportunities and political will can change quickly and frequently,” he says.
The company places great importance on with the Mayor, Councillors, and local stakeholders, among many others, to determine requirements for the specific land involved and the local community. “We are committed to working alongside these decision-makers to align ourselves with the needs of the public and municipality. To develop successfully and effectively we must work coherently with those around us—our goals are always to develop with purpose and consideration, achieved by thoughtful choices and thorough planning,” says Pitblado.
The biggest benefits of mixed-use developments
Unlike traditional, single-use greenfield developments that provide only one aspect of the residential lifestyle, mixed-used developments embody the walkable community. They allow for a pedestrian-friendly space, with well-connected transit options, in which people can live, work and play. Ideally these communities encompass all aspects of life, including schools, community centres, parks and recreational facilities, jobs and daily shopping needs.
“Mixed-use development is not a new concept, but it’s one we are passionate about creating and developing—not only for its comprehensive aspects, but also the socio-economic benefits and environmental factors, including reducing people’s carbon footprint,” says the director.
“Mixed-use developments are about creating more than a subdivision; it’s taking people’s lives and wellbeing into consideration to provide them with a cohesive space to live. Our goal is to create an environment in which people want to live, both now and in the future
Challenges that can arise
Oftentimes mixed-use developments come with a higher density than the already established surrounding community, which can be a difficult adjustment for local residents.
Compatibility is a primary factor in cases like this, explains Pitblado, but it is important to understand that compatible does not mean identical.
“Intensification, while necessary, is rarely popular with local residents. The fear of change and the unknown is very real, emphasizing the need for strong community education and engagement,” he says.
Servicing capacity and the ability of local infrastructure to support a denser form of development can also be a challenge. “It is always important as developers to work closely with our local municipalities to alleviate and find solutions to some of these concerns—and maintain a relationship focused on collaboration and a mutual willingness to adjust and compromise based on constraints and circumstances to produce the best possible outcome.”
Says the director, “Our vision is centred on a community that will ultimately stand the test of time—a space that will be enjoyed by future generations support the ever-changing lifestyle requirements of its residents. Sustainable living becoming more and more important to the public and we will continue to strive to embrace th idea with current and future projects creating communities with longevity and distinction.”
Purpose-driven property development company The Alinea Group aims to create thriving community ecosystems where people can live, work, play and flourish. They employ a research-based community wellbeing framework to ensure that social, economic, environmental, cultural and political conditions are taken into consideration at every stage of the development process.