Mixed-Use Projects Are:

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New Yorkers like everything from shopping to baseballstadiums close by, so the numbers from this week's poll make sense.When asked about mixed-use projects, 82% of our GlobeSt.com readersfelt they were more important than ever, while only 18% thinkthey're a bad idea in this economy. Barry Poskanzer, AIA, principaland partner of Poskanzer Skott Architects, spoke with us aboutmixed-use projects and gave us his opinion.

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"The numbers don't surprise me. The question is location, notthe economy. It's more of a zoning question. It's location that'smore than economics. It has more to do with the density of thelocation you're looking at than any other need.

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"If somebody's bringing money into develop and to work, that's agood thing. In a suburban community, if you do a mixed-use project,it may be difficult to get to except for those who have driven tothat particular property. If you put a mixed-use property in asemi-urban or urban area, clearly that's a pedestrian or masstransit world. Then it's much easier to utilize.

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"The mixed-use projects that we've done typically are using theground floor of a building where floor two on up is use 'B' or 'A,'and then the ground floor can be something else. That's analogousto lots of hotels where you go to where the ground floor is aconference center and retail shops, and then for the next 20stories up above they are hotel rooms. That's really mixed-useright there. When we get it we usually end up with an apartmenthouse with retail use on the ground floor. That's particularly anurban product type. The reason for that is the zoning allows forhorizontal zoning rather than vertical zoning.

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"Particularly the city, not the suburbs, finds its own densityand center of need. If there is new housing going up, somebodybetter find that they're supporting that new housing with newshops. Otherwise nobody will live there because they can't go to asupermarket or a drug store. There's an inherent inertia, naturalplanning inertia.

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"A good example would be Red Hook in Brooklyn, which has come ofage recently: the new Fairway Supermarket there. Why? Becausethere's a large percentage of new housing that's within walkingdistance or close to the bus.

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"We do mixed uses all the time. Each section of a city usuallydoes its own mixed use zoning. Now you get big developers that havelarge parcels of land. The developer will go to the municipalityand say 'I want to put a hotel, an office building and a strip ofstores all on this property.' That's the developer's way ofmaximizing use and density. The town would be in favor of it if itpromotes a logical development of its land-use plan. In thesuburbs, usually an entire parcel is zoned for one thing oranother.

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"For an architect, mixed-use projects are fun because they'remore interesting than doing an office building in the middle of aparking lot. Or doing a retail strip center with cars on one sideand truck loading on the back. The minute you start saying it's gota multiple use, it has to be serviced in different ways, thearchitecture should reflect that it's not all one thing butmultiple uses. If the client is willing, the architecturalopportunities are much greater in a building with variety."

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