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With gas prices what they are, people are increasingly looking to avoid unnecessarily driving between their homes and work or shopping areas. It’s not surprising, then, that even in a down economy, 82% of poll respondents think that mixed-use projects are more important than ever. A mere 18% think they are not as practical in this economy. Matt Harding, president and COO of Levin Management, definitely sees mixed-use developments as important, although he notes that certain aspects are being curtailed. Here are his thoughts:

“Mixed-use developments are very important because they enable people to work and shop, live and shop or live, work and shop in the same location. So, they are important and will continue to be so. Also, from a developer’s point of view, this type of development offers diversity in the type of product you’re building. At this point in time, though, if the project is heavily weighted with residential, particularly for-sale residential such as condominiums, it’s very difficult to get financing. That should change shortly, and developers are also converting for-sale residential product to rental, which is easier to get financing for.

“Developers want to build what they can sell or lease, so we may see some shrinking of the residential component for now. That will ebb and flow with the real estate cycle. There are plenty of mixed-use projects that don’t have a residential component, they have retail and office or hotels. They don’t necessarily have to have a residential component, but it is an important part of a mixed-use project. We’ll just see a little less of it for the time being until the residential real estate market gets things squared away.

“Transit village-related developments are important and will be more resilient in a downturn. The costs of transportation and fuel and so forth isn’t going to go down; most people think, in real terms, they’ll continue to go up, so people are increasingly focused on mass transportation. If you have a mixed-use project that is convenient to mass transportation, that’s a very big plus.”

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