Given the need for isolation forced by COVID-19 shutdowns in the last year, it might be logical to think that the development of dense mixed-use projects (combining at least two real estate sectors into an organized complex) would shut down. Instead, projects are being planned, launched and topped out around the country.
As the U.S. population, estimated by Statista at 331.42 million, continues to grow, densification becomes a necessity — within reason.
“COVID-19 has made us much more aware of how close together we are and who has been in the space we are now occupying,” wrote J. Tipton Housewright, a principal at Dallas-based design firm Omniplan in June 2020. “Practical impacts of this include more outdoor open spaces and wider sidewalks. Other impacts include the desire to limit the number of elevators we ride in our daily routines which argues for smaller, shorter buildings — again, less density.”
Mixed-use repositioning, which was well underway prior to the pandemic, is now expanding to include lifestyle amenities and blend into the fabric of the communities these properties reside in, noted Architecture Design Collaborative in a recent overview. As more people retire and continue to work from home, demand for mixed-use redevelopment will increase. One source of land: regional malls, which already have been adding nonretail uses to accommodate shifting consumer shopping habits.
“This is a win-win for developers as underutilized retail space and overflow parking can be repositioned to accommodate condos and apartments, juxtaposed with restaurants, entertainment venues and other amenities the residents can walk to,” the firm observed. “This in turn creates a vibrant development for residents to live-work-play while creating immediate traffic for retailers and restaurants.”
In one example, ADC’s work for Village at Orange, a mixed-use project located in Orange County, California, activates walkways with retail shops and dining experiences. A multi-car dealership showcases luxury cars and spans across two blocks with a pedestrian bridge that connects the spaces. Above, two towers house high-end residential units, which overlook the city as well as the spacious pool deck and rooftop gardens — amenities that invite residents to enjoy the outdoors.
How mixed-use projects will be built going forward may also shift, note other designers.
“One outcome of the COVID-19 crisis has been a surge in the need for rapid-response, temporary, prefabricated, and/or highly adaptable venues — facilities that are tailor-made for modular construction and mixed-use with the amplification of pop-up, flexible and adaptable spaces,” wrote J.F. Finn III and Duncan Paterson of Gensler in “Redesigning Mixed-Use Environments for a Post-Pandemic World.” “The current surge in demand will both accelerate the removal of many of the existing barriers to adoption of modular building in the U.S. and provide some very compelling advantages in the future. This should usher in more viable U.S. manufacturers to market as other industries begin to recognize the many benefits of modular construction.”
“We are social creatures. We will always want to be with others and experience community through public space and urban design, but there could be a nuanced change in how we create those environments,” Housewright continued. “I can imagine Urban Villages replacing high density Urban Nodes. Lower-density mixed-use environments that are walkable, safe environments where you can live, work and shop near home will be popular. These places will have lots of open space and will focus on the pedestrian.”
Below are examples of projects being developed around the U.S.
601 West 29th Street in New York City
Recently topped out by Douglaston Development, the 60-story building at 601 West 29th Street spans an entire block on 11th Avenue from West 29th to West 30th Street. Comprised of 938 rental units, over 50,000 square feet of amenity space and 15,000 square feet of Class-A retail space. The rental project will bring 703 market-rate and 235 affordable residences to the West Chelsea neighborhood upon completion.
Complementing the residential units, the project’s amenities include 50,000 tenant lounges, a gym with fitness studios, an outdoor pool, multiple roof decks, indoor and outdoor pet spaces, a parking garage and bike storage. Designed by FXCollaborative, with project construction being carried out by Levine Builders, construction began on 601 West 29th Street in 2019 and is on track to be delivered to the neighborhood in Summer 2022.
The Park, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey
Now in the midst of a $400 million redevelopment, The Park — formerly known as Connell Corporate Park — is transforming into a 185-acre mixed-use campus, with 1.5 million square feet of premier Class-A office and flexible workspaces, with tenants including L’Oreal, Bristol-Myers and Samsung. The Park’s campus also features a 176-room Embassy Suites; bespoke fitness and health amenities, a Life Time Fitness; programmed green spaces for active and passive recreation and Round Table Studios — a 40,000-square-foot social club and coworking space that offers a selection of thoughtfully designed workstations, pre-built private offices and community spaces.
“The Connell Company is carefully curating The Park to be more than a place to sit behind a desk for eight hours every day. Instead, we’re working to transform the property into an inclusive activated campus that offers a more fulfilling and productive alternative to working from home,” said Shane Connell, executive vice president of The Connell Company, the project’s developer.
Leveraging a “collegiate campus” approach, all tenants will have access to shared amenities and services, including indoor and outdoor workspaces, gyms, game rooms, fitness instructors, nutritionists, wellness services, on-site healthcare, and elevated and convenient culinary offerings. The culinary team will be led by Brian Bistrong, corporate executive chef at The Park and culinary program director of The Park’s catering and events hospitality group, Table & Banter. Also joining the Table & Banter team is Ashley Davis as director of pastry and baking. Louis Bayla will serve as the executive chef for Grain & Cane Bar & Table, the project’s on-site restaurant featuring traditional American fare.
The Park’s completion is slated for 2023.
Crescent Development, Fort Worth, Texas
Home to the pioneering mixed-use Houston and Dallas Gallerias, Texas continues to be a focus for the format. Fort Worth-based Crescent Real Estate LLC plans a major mixed-use development at the corner of Camp Bowie and Van Cliburn in the city’s Cultural District. The project will include a 200-key premier boutique hotel with a chef-driven restaurant, rooftop lounge and 8,000 square feet of meeting space; 175 luxury residential residential units and a Class A-office building, which will be home to Crescent Real Estate’s headquarters, Goff Capital Inc., Contango Oil & Gas and Canyon Ranch.
“We are excited to bring a first-class mixed-use project to the Cultural District,” said John Goff, chairman of Crescent. “The Crescent brand is known around the country for our luxury hotel, office and residential properties. Now, for the first time, we are coming home. I’ve lived in Fort Worth since 1981. We are going to build the finest hotel in the city that we hope will become the living room of Fort Worth. We can’t wait to bring the Crescent brand to Fort Worth in a major way.”
The project will be located adjacent to the city’s storied museums, Dickies Arena and Will Rogers Coliseum. Groundbreaking is scheduled to take place in summer 2021, and the project will open in mid-2023.
1 Southside Park, Miami
A rare full city-block development in Miami, Florida’s Brickell neighborhood, JDS Development Group’s 1 Southside Park will rise 64 stories and deliver 1,175 residential rental units. Once complete, the assemblage will also include 190,000 square feet of premier office space, a 200-key boutique hotel, 10,000 square feet of retail space, and 1,400 parking spaces.
Designed by SHoP Architects, the project, which features protected views to the South, recently received $43 million in acquisition and construction financing, structured by commercial real estate finance company Walker & Dunlop.
“1 Southside Park’s thoughtful, dynamic design serves as an exemplar for how we can design and develop in dense urban centers, with the community fabric in mind,” said Michael Stern, founder and CEO of JDS Development Group.
Located near the Miami-Dade Metrorail’s Brickell station, 1 South-side Park is central to one of Miami’s most anticipated projects, The Underline, which was completed in the fall of 2020. The Underline transformed the land below the elevated Metrorail into a 10-mile, linear neighborhood park with an urban trail and living art destination that stretches from Brickell to Dadeland.
1 Southside Park is designed to supplement the park with over 90,000 square-feet of wellness-focused offerings, including a state-of-the-art fitness center and spa. To integrate with the connected public park and The Underline, the project will also coordinate landscaping design by James Corner Field Operations.