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If the idea of a development where you live, work and play seems very of-the-moment, you wouldn’t be alone in your thinking. As the city of Atlanta continues to grow and change, so too do the developments and households that shape it. Connectivity and multi-use public spaces have increasingly become an essential part of the city’s identity and lifestyle — take the Atlanta BeltLine for example, with trails and walkways that connect people to green spaces, restaurants and shopping experiences like Ponce City Market, White Provisions, Colony Square and The Works.
But the reality is that forms of mixed-use developments have been around for as long as humans have, from the complex, multi-use cave systems of thousands of years ago to medieval times, where tradesmen manufactured and sold out of the same buildings they lived in. In fact, up until the 1920’s, most development in the United States was clustered around urban areas that allowed people to work in the vicinity they lived in. It wasn’t until the rise of the car that this trend began to change, as greater ease of transportation allowed people to sprawl outward into the suburbs without compromising on connectivity to the city.
Fast-forward to the present, and we’re beginning to see the same shift begin to take hold again — this time, back to the multi-purpose district model that was popular one hundred years ago. Advancements in technology and communication mean that people want to be and stay connected now more than ever before, and want to live somewhere that’s economically viable and doesn’t compromise on their own lifestyle needs.
Halcyon residents find a moment to lounge in the community square.
So what exactly is a mixed-use development? Defined by the Urban Land Institute as a development that blends three or more significant uses, including residential, commercial, cultural, recreational and industrial, mixed-use developments are designed to foster integration and compatibility of land uses alongside walkability and pedestrian connections. Sometimes referred to as “mini cities,” mixed-use developments are a one-stop shop for living, working, creating and playing — and their convenience factor is unmatched. “Above all else, mixed-use developments offer residents an unparalleled level of convenience across all sectors,” says Saba Loghman, Director of Land Acquisitions in Empire’s Atlanta office. “People are drawn to mixed-use developments because they help foster a greater sense of community, add vitality to urban areas, use land and space more productively and conserve resources. They’re also attractive because of their reduced impact on the environment, with more compact buildings and decreased dependency on cars, which in turn results in less traffic and pollution, and because they encourage a more active lifestyle, with improved walkability and greater access to green spaces.”
The success of the Atlanta BeltLine and its complementary retail components have helped give rise to a similar trend in the city’s suburbs, with mixed-use developments and greenways becoming one of the most in-demand concepts in real estate. “In Atlanta, developers like Empire are increasingly and proactively looking and planning for opportunities to combine different uses with a focus on place-making in order to create destinations that offer multiple lifestyle components,” says Jenny NeSmith, Empire’s Marketing Director in Atlanta. “As Atlanta’s neighborhoods continue to urbanize and expand, developers are continuing the trend of integrating a mix of residential, hotels, entertainment and retail to create connectivity and convenience for Atlantans throughout and around the city.”
Halcyon residents enjoy lunch at community hot spot Cherry Street Brewpub.
And as mixed-use developments continue to rise around the city, Atlantans that live in the suburbs will now be able to benefit from mixed-use living with the launch of Halcyon in Alpharetta. “Halcyon is a highly-anticipated mixed-use project that offers an unmatched combination of retail, dining, and employment opportunities, as well as new home and townhome designs,” NeSmith adds. “Like its successful urban counterparts, Halcyon was intentionally designed with integrated gathering spaces, parks and walkways that foster a greater sense of community, connectivity and walkability.”
Inspired by developments like Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market, Halcyon was designed to offer all the conveniences of city living in a location north of Atlanta’s urban core. With chef-driven restaurants, shopping, new homes and more all located within the community, as well as a rising number of entertainment options such as Music Mondays, Halcyon offers its residents a lifestyle that brings experience and entertainment right to their doorstep. And for those who desire the greater access to green space that suburban living provides, the Big Creek Greenway connects approximately 10,000 residents — including part of Halcyon — via a paved path that spans 20 miles through Alpharetta, Cumming and Roswell, as well as the surrounding urban areas.
Reflecting on all the benefits that mixed-use living provides, it’s no surprise that this model has prevailed time and time again throughout history, and why mixed-use developments appeal to new-home shoppers and experience seekers. Whether you prioritize convenience, a stronger sense of community, variety closer to home, health and leisure opportunities or a sustainable community that can grow and evolve, two things are for sure — mixed-use developments are here to stay, and you’re going to love living in one.
To explore or learn more about our Halcyon community in Alpharetta, click here.