MIXED-USE developments catering for today’s live work play trend continue to hold the power for regeneration in many areas and if developed and managed correctly, can also attract people back to declining main hubs, such as the Durban CBD.
The challenge is getting the right balance between commercial and residential, experts say.
"Mixed-use developments, when thought out correctly, can have a great regenerative effect on areas. Generally, those with the live work play theme have proven successful over time," says Yianni Pavlou, company principal at Portfolio Property Investments. However, he says this is the case only when they are priced correctly and the retail or commercial offerings are in line with the target LSM categories. Crime is a concern that can also be countered with the right mixed-use developments, and is particularly true in the city centre where, says Keith Chetty, Chas Everitt’s commercial manager for the CBD, safety is the biggest factor for people and businesses.
"Crime has increased considerably in the CBD and most feel safer shopping in malls. If larger buildings in the city centre were revamped into malls with good security, this would certainly attract more activity." Efforts are being made to address this in the city centre, and adding people to this environment has created "additional energy" in the urban landscape, says Frank Reardon, divisional director for broking at Broil KwaZulu-Natal.
However, giving an area the correct feel of residential or commercial at the right times is a challenge for mixed-use buildings. How can an area with commercial activity feel like "home" for those who live there, and like a place of business for those who engage in commercial activities? "With difficulty," answers Reardon, "but quality, family-friendly public spaces would be a good starting point." He says mixed-use in KZN war has not always been successful when mixing commercial and retail underneath the residential property, and often performs badly, especially in decentralised mixed-use precincts. "South African retail is concentrated in dedicated centres, unlike in many other parts of the world, especially Europe. This mitigates against large amounts of street front retail linked to residential being successful. CBD mixed-use will also target lower LSMs, meaning smaller potential spend in the associated retail." Pavlou says success also depends on what kind of development is allowed from a zoning point of view.
For example, certain businesses, such as pubs and night clubs generally do not work well with residential components. But coffee shop and takeaway establishments that close at reasonable hours offer convenience for the residential component. Chetty believes the concept of the Tongaat Hulett development at Bridge City will work well in the CBD.