December 12, 2022

Five Emerging Trends in Retail and Mixed-Use Spaces: Part 2

Emerging from the lockdown we’ve all had a lot of time to reflect on our priorities in life and perhaps even shuffle around a few of them. Designers have noticed customers’ priorities have evolved, with more emphasis on meeting friends, slowing down, celebrating, and a newfound appreciation to be surprised and delighted.  At the same time, developers have used this as an opportunity to assess trends that are emerging, and over the course of this five-part series, we will walk you through five primary categories that they fall under:

These ideas have been rising to the forefront for a while, but COVID was the impetus that enhanced the reassessment of our lifestyles. Trends for every component of mixed-use developments have gone through reconsideration and these new priorities and the individual impacts on each component should be considered within the overall development. We will break down these trends within the mixed-use components of retail, housing, office, hospitality, restaurants, and entertainment venues; exploring the synergy of how these new trends may work together to create new experiences.

Calculated risks must be taken with “pop-up”, rapidly shifting spaces; mitigated by flexible building components.

All components of mixed-use should consider strategic locations for adaptable space that protect the development’s long-term life cycle. 

The evolution of components of mixed-use that used to be measured in decades is accelerating due to technological advancements. COVID further quickened the pace by creating a paradigm shift in our lifestyles overall. Maybe these accelerated changes will ‘level out’, but it might be that this pace is here to stay, and we must learn to adapt to it.

Workplaces have scaled down with more flexible, communal space as the workforce remains home for at least part of the week. According to Forbes Magazine, "Data scientists at Ladders project 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022, and remote opportunities will continue to increase through 2023."

Housing, conversely, has increased in scale to accommodate home office capabilities either within individual units or with shared office amenities. Expanding fitness centers will address the fitness and health focus that has advanced during the pandemic. Outdoor space, in terms of terraces and balconies for each unit has become a higher priority post-COVID.

Restaurants have explored opportunities to be more flexible spatially with a diversity of options blurring the line between indoor and outdoor dining, as well as take-out orders being more of a priority in the business model post-COVID.

Retail was already scaling down in response to accelerated growth in online shopping. New strategies to make shopping more experiential in brick-and-mortar stores help differentiate it from online shopping. These ‘pop-up’ shops tend to be more interactive and experiential and can be used as drivers of traffic much like temporary exhibits in museums.

Hospitality and Entertainment have undergone similar adjustments to simultaneously entice customers to leave their homes to enjoy this public environment while considering public safety.

As these changes occur, it would be beneficial to have some percentage of a mixed-use development be flexible and adaptable to test the new market ideas and keep up with competition.

How do we provide an environment where these components can evolve, without disrupting the overall established development?

These ideas are untested and can't interfere with the time-tested ideas of how to lay out a mixed-use development. Retail on main streets, with ‘front doors’ and designated adjacent parking for hotels, housing, and offices all remain essential. Prime locations for central gatherings that define the development’s core also remain vital. These flexible spaces have the opportunity to activate underutilized areas of the development, for example alleys and secondary streets. These locations can support and extend the main energy center and activate the entry zones from the parking lots/garages without interfering with foundational components.

One option is to start small and scale up as the success of a particular experiment succeeds. For example, food trucks that can later be established in brick and mortar within the development if very successful. Temporary entertainment and experiential elements could also be strategically placed and if they are very successful could become more permanent. For example, sports courts, an outdoor movie theater on the lawn, a stage for small scale musical or theatrical events all could be tested and modified as community draws.

If retail continues to ‘scale down’ the depth of typical retail tenants could change. That can be an opportunity for experiential activities that don't require the exposure of a continuous storefront along the Main Street. Indoor mini-golf, bowling, an indoor bike or skatepark, or an 'escape' room are some possibilities. Finally, all levels of building systems must consider flexibility, adaptability and expansion, and contraction of the components of mixed-use. Due to the complexity of these developments an individualized approach to each site is required.

Over our next three blogs, we will continue to explore a variety of ways to maximize on the discussed trends, but you canwith Progressive Companies to discuss any of these topics at any time.

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