Image of building representing How mixed-use and residential buildings are different, Vantage Strata Canberra

A building with commercial and residential lots has its own unique challenges and benefits. Take a look at why these complexes are different.

Mixed-use facilities, which include residential premises and commercial operations like cafes, offices and shops, are a productive use of space. They add vitality to urban areas but they’re not without their challenges and they are definitely different to standard residential or commercial buildings. 

If you are involved with the Owners Corporation, Executive Committee or management of a facility like this, there are some key things to keep in mind about how this type of facility differs from a standard residential block. 


The benefits of a mixed-use building

The variety of a mixed-use building can make it more appealing to residents and tenants. As a cafe owner, of course you want a regular stream of local customers. Having them live or work in the floors above you is ideal. Residents will love having coffee at their doorstep and a friendly face to see every morning as well. 

For many people, a mixed-use building has appeal because it brings what they need closer. They would prefer it to living in a standalone apartment block or operating within a traditional retail strip. 

Mixed-use buildings provide the ultimate convenience for modern living. With access to retailers and service providers, residents have less need for their car. If their building is near a train station, bus stop or car-sharing service, they may be able to forgo vehicle ownership completely. For this reason, mixed-use buildings can sometimes advertise for tenants with the understanding there is no car space available and still attract excellent applicants. 

People in a mixed-use building may feel like more of a community than standard residential buildings. The shops downstairs give them more opportunities to connect, interact and get to know each other. 

A building like this creates its own micro-village, with many occupants relying on each other. Instead of a basic apartment block or shopping strip, a mixed-use building becomes a neighbourhood. It feels safer, more convenient and more appealing for the long-term. This can make it a more valuable investment in its local area than standard commercial or residential blocks. 

If you’re managing or part of the Executive Committee, it’s important to understand the benefits of a mixed-use building and work to highlight them to current and prospective tenants. You may wish to do some extra work to foster a positive feeling of community, such as negotiating special prices for tenants at the food venues or hairdressing salon in the complex. 


The challenges of a mixed-use building

While mixed-use buildings have their benefits and are becoming increasingly popular, they do have their challenges. 

Keeping space leased is one of the biggest challenges for a mixed-use building. Having empty commercial spaces isn’t a good look and it can attract vandals, which drag down the value of the property. When you’re trying to attract residential tenants, this can make life difficult. 

Noise can be another challenge. Mixed-use strata managers understand all too well the problem of having a bar downstairs and residents upstairs who are trying to work or sleep. By-laws governing volume and the time when music is played can help to ease this issue. 

While mixed-use buildings may need less of it, parking can be another challenge for this type of premises. Businesses rely on having parking available to staff and clients. Residents want their guests to access secure, undercover parking. As mentioned, some buildings solve this by limiting the number of residents with access to a car space. Others patrol visitor parking very closely so cars don’t overstay their welcome.  

Keeping the peace is another struggle for mixed-use buildings. Different types of occupants have different needs. Residents want green space. Office tenants want excellent air conditioning but other tenants may resist the expense. Cafes in mixed-use buildings require more regular waste-collection than smaller residential blocks. Again, this could cause a noise problem for residents, not to mention a safety one for people who have small children. 

As an Executive Committee or Strata Manager, the challenge is to collect and distribute funds so everyone feels their needs are met.

In these circumstances, open communication and transparency are key. There must be stakeholders from each sub-group within the Executive Committee and the Strata Manager must keep everyone’s needs in mind with every operational and financial decision. 

Ideally, your Strata Manager will have outstanding community engagement skills. They will be able to get to know people and understand what they want, building a good relationship so all the buildings users feel heard and acknowledged. 

Thanks to the push for smarter, more sustainable communities, mixed-use buildings are on the rise. With good management, these communities can be positive places which are sought-after for residential and commercial tenants alike. 

If you live in or are on the Executive Committee for a mixed-use building, look for a Strata Manager who has experience in this specific area. They will understand the differences and be able to provide the support you need.