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Live/Work Spaces: Why Mixed-Use Development is Making a Big Comeback

Mixed-use development has reemerged as a hot trend in urban planning. One location where you can live, work and play is enjoying a major revival. But this trend used to be the norm. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution that industry and trade were separated from homes as advances in mechanical and agricultural technologies brought challenging environmental conditions and required special access and ample spaces to accommodate large and noisy machinery. To address these issues, cities around the world began to separate residential and commercial development through zoning.

The transition from a manufacturing to a services era, along with the growth of specialized fields of expertise and advances in communication are several contributing factors which allow businesses to operate on a smaller scale, giving more people the opportunity to work from home.

Examples across the globe are showing that living, working, socializing and entertaining locally has multiple benefits such as shorter commutes and a more active and engaged social life. Mixed-use developments can also help residents to establish frequent contact and long-term relationships with others.

Sustainability has also become an increasingly important consideration over the past few decades. A growing body of research demonstrates that flexible spaces can be more economically viable and efficient, resulting in further interest in mixed use schemes, including several new developments in downtown Little Rock.

A perfect example is 1424soma, a new, mixed-use development located in the heart of the SOMA neighborhood at 1424 Main Street. It offers 16 studio apartments and five commercial spaces for lease within a modest yet modern building honoring SOMA's rich and eclectic history.

A new live/work space for artists is currently under consideration. The Windgate Foundation has commissioned Artspace, a nationwide non-profit real estate developer, to conduct a feasibility study in Little Rock for possible mixed-use, creative live/work spaces for artists and arts-related organizations. If Little Rock is chosen, Artspace would develop, own and manage the property. They use a combination of low-income housing tax credits and other public and private sources to complete their projects.

As a non-profit real estate developer, Artspace does not search for projects but rather, responds to requests from communities for their assistance. Little Rock leaders believe this initiative will complement other arts organizations and will improve the Main Street Creative Corridor and help create new or additional creative areas in Little Rock.

Artspace will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, July 24, at 6:30 p.m., at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. Entertainment, food and beverages will be provided. Come out and let your voice be heard.

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