Before the invention of automobiles, pedestrian-based, mixed-use neighborhoods were common. Back then, neighborhoods tended to be clustered closer to a city’s industrial centers. This limited the area of just how far a community tended to expand before growth slowed or stopped.
The invention of the automobile, the growth of mass transit, and the ease with which residents could commute to work, caused a shift of population to outer ring communities. In these suburbs, residents could acquire more land and the distances to amenities were less significant. And, while there will always be a demand for homes on large lots and where proximity to goods and services is not an issue, there is now a movement to recreate smaller, mixed-use living conditions. And, in doing so, developers are finding both the demand and the economic benefits for their construction.
So, what ARE the benefits of mixed-use living and why are they gaining in popularity?
Accessible social amenities
Mixed use properties, particularly those that include apartments like Belle Oaks, allow residents to live in close proximity to their employers. What’s more, the concentration of goods, services and amenities within these communities create walkability for the residents. No longer must they ‘hop in a car’ or ‘catch a bus’ to find the goods and services they need on a daily basis. Those amenities are all within walking distance. This creates a sense of belonging and community that is often lacking in suburban or rural settings. In a rural setting you might never meet, let alone know your neighbors.
Stronger social and community ties
Because of residents’ natural desire to remain within their communities, both businesses and local venues outside the development show economic gains. Local governments gain revenue through taxes paid by the new residents, both personal and sales taxes. The developers and managers pay property taxes and local, county and state entities benefit. Additionally, communities like Belle Oaks focus on providing large communal areas, both inside and out that cater to the needs of the residents. Pools, fitness centers, theaters, party rooms, pet-friendly parks and gathering spots all promote relationship-building between residents and the community-at-large.
Mixed-use communities are beneficial to both residents and businesses. Money saved in gasoline expenses can be used to improve one’s standard of living. The distances traveled to stores for basic amenities is reduced. Research reveals that pedestrian-accessible businesses result in patrons spending as much as 50% longer in restaurants and clubs as opposed to customers arriving by car.
Mixed-use developments like Belle Oaks tend to attract residents with higher median incomes. Because of this, construction quality and the quality of the attracted businesses tends to be higher. In particular, Belle Oaks has been designed to be price competitive with other residential offerings in the immediate sub-market. In addition, Belle Oaks has the advantage of being, on average, more than 40 years newer and with a level of amenities typically found only in the highest cost outer ring suburban developments.
Stimulation of economic growth
Because of the high concentration of population in a relatively small area, economic growth tends to follow the construction of a mixed use development. Regardless of the amenities that may be included within the development’s confines, additional economic growth also tends to occur as additional businesses move into the immediate area to take advantage of a ‘captive audience’ that has a demonstrated predisposition to want to remain in a localized area.
Promotes sustainable urban planning and environmental conservation
Mixed-use developments like Belle Oaks promote sustainable living. The ability to access the majority of residents’ basic needs within walking or biking distance allows for a major reduction of automobile use. In ecological terms, mixed-use developments, particularly new developments that leverage eco-friendly lighting, landscaping and construction standards, help create environmental and cost savings that benefit all. It is easy to see why mixed-use living is particularly appealing to millennials and seniors. But the reality is the value of the Belle Oaks at Richmond Road project is going to be so great, that anyone currently living, or looking to live, in a first-class apartment setting would be foolish not to investigate Belle Oaks as their residence of choice.