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LAS VEGAS-Shopping-center developers are no strangers to dealing with parking issues when planning their projects, and as sustainable, or green, mixed-use projects proliferate, those challenges could become more pronounced. Mass transit, a cornerstone to many of these developments, could make the process tougher for owners, said David Zoba, chief operating officer of Columbus, OH-based developer Steiner & Associates.

When a light-rail station or some other hub of mass transit enters a project, attempts to reduce parking to compensate for the alternative transportation won’t always fly with retailers, he said. “They’re still believers in that car, without question,” Zoba said here at the International Council of Shopping Centers Conference on Mixed-Use Development.

Developers are also to blame for not working hard enough to get shoppers out of their cars and into other forms of transportation, pointed out Brian Ratner, Forest City Enterprises’ president of East Coast development. “There are a lot of people on the chain of development that are not there yet,” he said. “And we need to get there.”

Regardless, more consumers should start to get used to paying for parking at shopping centers, which has traditionally been a free perk, said Richard Heapes, a partner at White Plains developer Street Works. “The days of free parking are over,” he said.

Besides parking and transportation issues, mixed-use developers face other challenges. Landlords need to effectively combine day and night tenants, so that the different uses don’t collide, said Marliee Utter, president of Denver-based developer CitiVenture. She also suggested adding non-retail tenants such as healthcare providers and education venues to give a center more longevity.

Said Clyde Holland, chief executive officer of Vancouver, WA-based developer Holland Partners, developers need to plan for the future and anticipate how a center’s needs might change years down the road. “Don’t forget about tomorrow,” said Holland. “It’s not just build it today, and it’s done.”

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