Printed from : LMD

18 Jun 2015

Building respectful partnerships
   BY Liz Terry

Mixed-use developments of all kinds rely on the inclusion of leisure elements for a range of vital impacts which make the difference between the success or failure of a scheme.

Adding leisure can turn a property development into a destination by giving it a sense of place. It can add services which are vital to consumers to create a community and, as we saw in the previous edition of CLADmag (2015, issue 1), the addition of some elements – such as wellness – can add up to 30 per cent to hotel rack rates and the value of residential real estate.

But dovetailing leisure with other real estate types requires a thorough understanding of the needs of leisure operators. It also requires a respectful working relationship in the early stages of a project between investor, developer, architect and operator which is often lacking.

Too many developers believe it’s acceptable to leave an empty shell as part of a development and market forces will take care of the rest: they figure that if one operator doesn’t take the space, then one of their competitors will.

But this lazy approach undermines everyone: the investor, the reputations of developer and architect and the local community, when a scheme remains empty or fail to thrive.

Developers and architects too often design and build spaces which can never be optimised, due to their lack of knowledge of the ratios and business models of leisure businesses. Spaces are designed which are the wrong size, configuration or orientation or of the wrong type for the operation which is needed, either to win the planning consent which is being sought or to create the desired mix.

This leaves sites full of dead spaces which are simply not viable because of a lack of forethought and these can blight a development which might otherwise thrive.

The leisure industry is a fast moving and innovative one, and the options available to the developers and the architects who design for them are ever-changing, richer and more responsive to consumer demand and trends.

From the oyster hatcheries and urban farms being added to restaurants to operations such as Kidzania and the new breeds of health and fitness budget and micro gyms, there are hundreds of operations suitable for inclusion in mixeduse schemes and many are committed to fast global rollouts.

Developers, investors and architects must work to understand the needs of these entrepreneurial businesses and develop respectful partnerships, so mixed-use retail and residential developments realise their true potential.

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