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IRVINE, CA—It's important to be forward thinking when planningmixed-use projects. David Senden,a principal with KTGY Group Inc., tellsGlobeSt.com. Designers and developers should consider what thespace can and will be used for now and later.

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As GlobeSt.com reported earlier this week, identity isanother critical factor for both retailers and residents, accordingto Senden. “From the architectural aesthetic to signage andbranding, the development's identity is key to how it will bereceived. While there is no particular mixed-use 'style,' it isimportant to find the right tone. No one wants to feel like theyare living in a shopping mall or shopping in anapartment complex.”

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Senden says in designing the retail/commercialspace, it's important to create flexibility. “As business can comeand go, the retail space needs to be designed to meet the needs ofthe greatest number of possibilities now and into the future. It isalso important to limit the amount of structure in the retail spaceas much as possible. The space should be easily divisible, andinterior walls should be bound to what is happening to the exteriorof the building.”

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A sense of arrival is essential for residents in a mixed-useproject, and this can be accomplished with a ground-floor lobbythat serves as their front door and is a great place to greetfriends, adds Senden. “It also gives the ground floor identity andmakes it easy for the residents to patronize thestores in the development.”

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When designing, keep in mind the proportions of the retail spaceas well. Senden says 50 ft. to 60 ft. is a normal depth for in-lineretail, but “any shallower than that and you may prevent the spacefrom being leased by businesses that have both a front and back ofhouse. Any deeper and a small store will get very narrow.”

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Parking is another consideration. “In a dense mixed-usedevelopment, it's important to separate the residential parkingfrom the retail parking,” says Senden. “If residents have to drivethrough a retail mess every time they leave or come home, they getirritated, and retention of those residents will get tough. Eventhough residents of mixed-use developments likeliving near the action, they still want their day-to-day life to bepain free.”

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Providing special perks and incentives for residents is a greatway to connect them with the retail in the building and increaseretention, he adds. “Developers should think of the retail as anamenity to the residential portion of the development. Proximity ispart of it, but discount programs, delivery from restaurants,priority reservations or nightclub VIP access can make living therefeel like being a part of an exclusive club.”

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Integrating the different uses in a mixed-usedevelopment is part science, part art, Senden points out.“Ideally, residents will have easy access to all of the greatthings a retail environment can provide without the hassle ofhaving to travel to get there. They should, however, be able toescape the hustle and bustle when they want to. Public zones shouldlead to semi-public zones to semi-private zones to private places.There should be areas of decompression where serenity can be found.If the transition from individual unit to public excitement isabrupt, it takes away from a sense of neighborhood and communityfor the residents.”

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Carrie Rossenfeld

Carrie Rossenfeld is a reporter for the San Diego and Orange County markets on GlobeSt.com and a contributor to Real Estate Forum. She was a trade-magazine and newsletter editor in New York City before moving to Southern California to become a freelance writer and editor for magazines, books and websites. Rossenfeld has written extensively on topics including commercial real estate, running a medical practice, intellectual-property licensing and giftware. She has edited books about profiting from real estate and has ghostwritten a book about starting a home-based business.