The design-build constructionmodel has quickly risen in popularity in the wake of rapidly risingconstruction costs. The model helps curb costs by getting all ofthe stakeholders in a room early to create a highly efficientconstruction process. Mixed-use assets are driving a lot of thatactivity. The asset class is one of the fasted growing in the US,and design-build has become a staple for these projects.

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"Mixed-use is one of the fastest-growing sectors of developmentin the U.S., and is a primary driver for today's commercialdesign/build projects," Barry Caylor, VP ofbusiness development at design-build construction companyOTL, tells GlobeSt.com. "A 2017 NAR study revealedthat the majority of Americans—53%—prefer to live in walkablecommunities."

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In addition to consumer preferences, the pillars of thedevelopment process have also seen the benefits of bringing moreintegrated and walkable communities to market. "Beyond theseconsumer preferences, developers, architects, city leaders and manyothers in the commercial real estate industry are increasinglyrecognizing the bottom-line value of creative placemaking," saysCaylor. "By building walkable communities with a mix of product andinfusing these destinations with landmark design/build featuressuch as water features, outdoor living rooms, art, and othercentral elements that attract people, property owners are findingdeep ROI."

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This is happening throughout the US, particularly in majormetros. "Southern California, with its incomparable weather, iscertainly a leader in mixed-use development, and developers in thisregion are continually seeking new design/build elements thatdeliver the "wow" factor today's destinations require," addsCaylor. "Other markets demonstrating strong growth in commercialdesign/build projects include Texas, as well as Oklahoma,Louisiana, and really throughout the South Central U.S."

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This trend also aligns with where investment dollars are beingspent. Developers are focusing more and more on experience."Today's investment dollars are focused on creating destinationsthat delight and entertain people, which directly contributes toincreased foot traffic, increased length of stay, and ultimately,higher sales for businesses in and around the development," saysCaylor.

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Developers are willing to make a healthy capital investment toaccomplish this goal. "We are seeing developers expand theirbudgets to accommodate "wow" factor amenities such as interactivewater features and show fountains, as well as experiential gardens,streams, and artistic, architectural water fountains," says Caylor."These elements become the new "anchor" for today's mixed-use,walkable communities, and when done well, they can and do deliverplacemaking at its best."

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on GlobeSt.com and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.