One of the more popular methods of urban design that is currently being pushed upon communities by urban planners is mixed-use design. While there are plenty of risks associated with mixed-use development, primarily that of its dangerous deviation from the single-use style of development that America has embraced for the last 50 years, the potential benefits end up bringing much more to the table. Some of the more notable benefits include a reduction in crime, higher property values, complete streets, and easy accessibility for multiple modes of transportation.
Like many cities in the United States, much of the major development planned and completed in the last decade in Columbus, Ohio, where I currently live, have been classified as mixed-use developments. Perhaps the two most prominent projects were the Easton Town Centre and the South Campus Gateway.
The idea of a mixed-use shopping center in Columbus had its beginnings in 1990, and over the years has evolved into what is now known as Easton Town Centre. The large “town center” is designed to look like a classic American main street, complete with 1,800,000 square feet of retail space spread over 90 acres, which itself sits in a larger 1,300 acre development. Easton has gained international notoriety, winning an International Council of Shopping Centers award for “Innovative Design for a New Project.” Since its conception as a shopping center, Easton has thrived commercially, comprising itself of nearly 240 stores and generating over $120 million in taxes annually.
The one main setback with Easton Town Center is its location. It is located on Columbus’ outerbelt highway, around 8 miles outside of downtown Columbus. Hence, even with Easton’s fantastic mixed-use design, the fact that an automobile is the only way to get there creates an exclusive area and hinders its ability to become a diverse, urban area.
South Campus Gateway, on the other hand, is at the center of all the action. Funded in part by the Ohio State University and located on the campus’ southern border, the Gateway is filled with restaurants, bars, shops, apartments, a graphic design studio, and other entertainment enterprises. All of this activity is contained within three blocks on Columbus’ most vibrant street, High Street.
The Gateway, a mixed-use development, built in part to keep crime from spilling into the University from the south, has become one of Columbus’ most vibrant urban areas.
Are there any exciting mixed-use projects making a difference in your city? Please share!