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LAS VEGAS-Mixed-use properties are not just the wave of the future any more. These developments are now at the forefront of nearly every new retail project in the planning phase, said speakers here at the International Council of Shopping Centers Conference on Mixed-Use Development.

“Today mixed-use properties are underway in virtually every community across this country,” said Lee Wagman, chief executive officer of the Santa Monica, CA-based Martin Group. These developments, which combine retail with offices, residential and entertainment uses, have become, their “own distinct property type.”

As regional shopping-center owners discover the importance of adding density to their projects in order to maximize returns and finding less sites on which to build new projects, developers continue to add different uses to their assets, Wagman said. Municipal governments are also encouraging the projects as ways of revitalizing different areas.

Another reason these projects are so popular is because regional malls “turned their backs on their communities,” observed Richard Foy, founding partner of Boulder, CO-based design firm Communication Arts. Consumers are no longer as interested in going to a venue surrounded with a sea of parking where there is little human interaction. “Responsible developers will realize that we are building communities for people – not boxes,” he said.

Foy said that this city is a prime example of how much the trend has taken off. Only 10 years ago, he pointed out, Las Vegas was defined solely by its hotels and casinos. Now nearly every resort has shopping, entertainment and dining.

The mixed-use conference ends today. Co-sponsors of the event are BOMA, IREM, NAIOP and NMHC.

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