Mixed-use design, or mixed-use architecture, has been around since the 1900‘s. At that time, the design was unique in that it featured two stories: the first floor was used for retail, offices or some other kind of business, while the second floor was a residence for rent or a hotel. From the 1900‘s through the 1920‘s, you could find these buildings surrounding many town squares throughout the country.
This type of building was popular for two reasons. First, it offered security. If the business on the first floor wasn’t performing as expected, rent from the second floor provided revenue to the owner. Second, two floors gave the building presence. Sure, owning a one-story building was (and still is) a big deal, but adding a second floor gave weight and heft to the structure.
What Happened to Mixed-Use Buildings?
As the country grew and cars became common, mixed-use buildings lost their cachet. Cities began segregating and zoning just about everything. Approach any intersection and you’d find a strip center on just about every corner with single-story businesses packed next to each other.
Today, if you look at one-story commercial buildings, they may be 20-foot in height to give the building some presence, but much of that height is wasted space (and wasted money).
Why Is Mixed-Use Making a Comeback?
First, many urban neighborhoods are attempting to become more pedestrian-friendly. When you leave your apartment, it’s nice to walk or bike to a Walgreen’s – maybe meet friends for a hand-crafted beer or grab an Italian gelato.
Second, not everyone is going to realize a massive profit just because they buy and sell a home. Renting continues to be an attractive option for millennials and empty nesters who’re looking for alternatives – especially in downtown areas.
Thinking About a Mixed-Use Building?
Interestingly, when mixed-use projects began making a comeback in Fort Worth, there were no codes for these kinds of buildings. Today, TMA Architects knows every need and requirement for these projects. We have completed 16 mixed-use projects in Fort Worth. In fact, our architecture firm’s building in Near Southside is a mixed-use building.
As in the past, the owner of a mixed-use building typically has their medical practice, retail space, or business offices on the first floor with residences above. And in every case, a second floor of boutique apartments is bringing the owner revenue they would not otherwise be receiving.
If you’re thinking about a mixed-use building, please contact us for more information.