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Residential: The Obvious Undervalued Ingredient in Town Centers

Geoff Dyer describes the essential role that a residential component plays in any mixed-use town center. For Dyer, residences are "the substrate on which a healthy mixed-use environment is based."
July 14, 2012, 9am PDT | Hazel Borys
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Why's it so hard for developers to properly value mixing residential in town centers? Perhaps there are still too many barriers in place thanks to government and politics. Dyer considers key advantages to getting over the hurdle, including walkable choice, trip reduction, 24-hour population, a built-in market, transit support, mixed-use integration, horizontal versus vertical mixed-use, and fine-grained urbanism. Then Dyer looks to lessons learned from places that get it right:

"One of my favorite precedents is Habersham in South Carolina by DPZ & Co. and the Habersham Land Company. Located in the middle of nowhere, in a modest economy, and in a location with predominantly low-cost single family homes, Habersham has quietly grown out of the low country swamp to become a fantastic mixed-use, walkable village. Vertically mixed-use live/works with residences over commercial, a variety of row houses, and small apartment houses lining the regional roadway. An example of fine-grained incremental urbanism, Habersham is an important model for the future where large development loans are becoming scarce as the market continues to shift toward walkable mixed-use environments."

Habersham's lessons learned include small lots in the town center for incremental development in an uncertain economy, paying attention to block structure, and flexible zoning. Dyer goes on to address large-scale mixed use in a similar fashion.

Thanks to Hazel Borys

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Published on Thursday, July 12, 2012 in PlaceShakers
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