What are the Benefits of Mixed Use Development?

Different communities choose mixed use for different reasons. Some see it as an excellent way to incorporate a mix of housing types on a small scale while enhancing traditional town character. Others see it primarily as a vehicle for revitalizing struggling areas and spurring economic development. Still others use it to create or enhance village centers. Listed below are some of the many benefits of mixed use development:

  • Spurs revitalization
  • Encourages high quality design by providing both greater flexibility and more control
  • Preserves and enhances traditional village centers
  • Promotes a village-style mix of retail, restaurants, offices, civic uses, and multi-family housing
  • Provides more housing opportunities and choices
  • May increase affordable housing opportunities
  • Enhances an area’s unique identity and development potential (e.g., village centers, locations near bike paths, or “gateway” areas that announce a community’s strengths)
  • Promotes pedestrian & bicycle travel
  • Reduces auto dependency, roadway congestion, and air pollution by co-locating multiple destinations
  • Promotes a sense of community
  • Promotes a sense of place
  • Encourages economic investment
  • Promotes efficient use of land and infrastructure
  • Guides development toward established areas, protecting outlying rural areas and environmentally sensitive resources
  • Enhances vitality
  • Improves a municipality’s Commonwealth Capital score
  • Embodies “Smart Growth”
  • Increases revenues

Although mixed use is especially applicable near public transportation, it has advantages for other areas as well. Benefits include the preservation of undeveloped or environmentally sensitive land elsewhere in the community, opportunities for more or different housing, bicycle and pedestrian-friendly destinations, and an enhanced sense of place or sense of community.

In developing a bylaw, communities should select the advantages that best apply and structure the provisions to accomplish these goals.