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How mixed-use developments can increase economic growth

As the world is evolving, players in different sectors of the global economy, including the real estate industry, are trying to withstand the test of time. Estate developers across the globe had long before now, adopted a mixed-use plan in property developments, just as operators in the country have been advised to use such technical method in urban property development in order to create business hub in the sector as well as the country. Some experts, who spoke to National Mirror, said have noted that such plan has helped some developed and developing countries to withstand the test of time, as it has helped in urban and business renewals. Mixed use properties, according to them, combine both retail, office, residential and leisure properties to form a business hub. It however comprises shopping malls, offices, hotel and gym, thus giving new life to some city centres’. Citing South Africa as one of the African countries that had long before now, adopted a mixed-use properties development, a Lagos based property consultant, Mr. Daniel Ekwo said South Africa adopted the plan in 1990 with Century City in Cape Town and Melrose Arch in Johannesburg as the first of its kind. According to him, if Nigerian property developers could adopt such plan, it would go a long way in formalizing the retail sector in non-metropolitan areas while linking people, who may want to be closer to their work as well as shopping malls.

Explaining on how the mixed use development would be achieved, Ekwo said private investors would take the lead by building some mixed-use estates that would have latest facilities, noting that ‘’it would be a city within a city’’. He said such business hub would attract over 10,000 people living and working within and around the precinct to be known as, new urban development structure with good architectural and cultural significance. Ekwo however noted that some mixed use properties are valued more in some cities and remain one of the largest urban development centres in the country. Citing the 25 billion rand Waterfall estate in Johannesburg as one of the successful mixed use property development patterns in Africa, Ekwo said when completed, it would make it the most ambitious mixed-use developments in the continent. This, according to him, stands at 1.6 million square meters in size and would host the Mall of Africa, presumed to be the biggest mall on the continent, standing at 116, 000 square meters. “I must tell you that such estate is of bigger scale. All the residential spaces are being developed around the Waterfall estate, so it is quite a substantial development in South Africa, so, if we have this type of business hub in Nigeria, it is going to help us massively in business planning, urban renewal as well as regional developments’’, Ekwo stated. Suggesting that such estate must be strategically located in different cities in the country, he said such would create entirely new business hubs while creating spaces for people to shop, work and live in. This is aside creating millions of job opportunities to the teeming Nigerians in urban cities across the country.

Speaking on the mixed-use developments, an estate developer in Ogun state, Lekan Odusile said mixed-use development is a type of urban development trend that blends residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, or industrial uses, where those functions are physically and functionally integrated while also providing pedestrian connections. According to him, this trend of mixed-use developments has proven to have created new business hubs that are not only convenient for people, but being a key driver of the nation’s economy.

‘’Mixed-use development can take the form of a single building, a city block, or entire neighbourhoods that the term may also be used more to refer to a mixed-use real estate development project, a building, complex of buildings or district of a town or city that is developed for mixed-use by a private developer, quasi-governmental agency or a combination thereof’’, he stated. Odusile said traditionally, human settlements have developed in mixed-use patterns with industrialization as well as invention of skyscraper, adding that governmental zoning regulations should be introduced to separate different functions such as manufacturing from residential areas. Citing the United States of America as a case in point, he said mixed-use zoning has once again become desirable, saying the merits are more than the demerits. For him, the concept reduces distances between housing, workplaces, retail businesses, and other destinations, stronger pedestrian and bicycle-friendly environment, as human settlements developed as mixeduse environment. He said most people dwell close their places of work as well as domestic life and made or sold things from their own homes.

This is as most buildings are divided into discrete functions on a room by room basis, as most neighbourhoods contain a diversity of uses, even if some districts developed a predominance of certain uses such as metalworkers, textiles or footwear due to the socioeconomic benefits of propinquity. Experts said that people live in high densities because the amount of space required for daily living and movement between different activities was determined by walkability as well as the scale of the human body, particularly in the cities, hence ground floors of buildings were often devoted to some sort of commercial or productive uses with living spaces upstairs. According to them, the mixed-used pattern of development declined during industrialization in favor of large-scale separation of manufacturing and residences in singlefunction buildings. This period, they noted saw massive migrations of people from rural areas to cities, drawn by several works in factories and the associated businesses and bureaucracies that grew up around them. Those influxes of new workers, analysts noted were accommodated as many new urban districts sprang up time with domestic housing being their primary functions, thus separating out of land uses that previously had occurred in the same spaces. As a result of this, many factories produced substantial pollution of various kinds; hence distance was required to minimize adverse impacts from noise, dirt, noxious fumes and dangerous substances. Even so, most industrialized cities were of a size that allowed people to walk between the different areas of the city. In abroad for example, the advocates of the Garden City Movement were attempting to think through these issues, proposing improved ways to plan cities based on zoning areas of land, so that conflicts between land uses would be minimized. Some architects had advocated for radical rethinking of the way cities were designed based on similar ideas, proposing new modern plan, involving mixed-use system. For instance, in the United States, the fear of buildings blocking out the sun, led to the call for zoning regulations, particularly in New York City. Zoning regulations does not only call for limits on building heights, but separation of their uses. This was largely meant to keep people from living next to polluted industrial areas.

The separation however was extended to commercial uses as well, setting the stage for the suburban style of life, which is common in America. This was widely adopted by municipal zoning codes in the country. With the advent of mass transit systems, the ability to create dispersed, low-density cities, where people could live very long distances from their workplaces, shopping centres and entertainment districts began in some countries. These laws enforced and codified standards for modern suburban design as it is known today, which have been exported to many other countries through planning professionals and transportation engineers. The resulting bills progressively included restrictions on alleyways, minimum road widths, restrictions on cross streets for major arteries, buffer zones between separate areas, and eliminating mixed-use in all new developments, resulting in a moratorium on traditional urban development which remains in place in most areas that are not specifically zoned as “mixed use” or “general urban development”, a common term for urban areas. The new design began in the late 20th century, when it becomes apparent to many urban planners as well as other professionals that mixed-use development had many ben- Ambode efits and should be promoted again. In most cases, the automobile had become a requirement for transportation between vast fields of residentially zoned housing and the separate commercial and office strips, creating issues of Automobile dependency. In 1961, Jane Jacobs’ influential The Death and Life of Great American Cities argued that a mixture of uses is vital and necessary for a healthy urban area.

Zoning laws, he said have been revised accordingly and increasingly attempt to address these problems by using mixed-use zoning. A mixed-use district would often serve as the “downtown” area of a local community, ideally associated with public transit nodes in accordance with principles of transit-oriented development and new urbanism. Mixed-use guidelines often result in residential buildings with street front commercial space. Retailers have the assurance that they would always have customers living right above and around them while residents have the benefit of being able to walk a short distance to buy groceries and household items or see a movie. Some of the benefits of mixed-use development include greater housing variety and density, more affordable housing (smaller units), life-cycle housing (starter homes to larger homes to senior housing) reduced distances between housing, workplaces, retail businesses, and other amenities and destinations. Others include better access to fresh, healthy foods as food retail and farmers markets can be accessed on foot, bike or by transit. Though, some analysts have criticized the mixed-use plan on the ground that it is often seen as too risky by many developers and lending institutions because economic success requires that the many different uses remain in business. Most development throughout the mid 20th century in the United States was singleuse

Source: National Mirror

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