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Property managers face challenges with today's mixed-use projects

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Property managers face unique challenges associated with today's increase in retail/mixed-use properties, especially as it relates to working with the requirements of both components, whether in new developments or conversions and renovations of existing properties.

San Diego County's shrinking vacant land supplies, coupled with the demand for new housing as well as the need to restore pedestrian populations to the city's downtown sectors, have led to a new development model for today's retail/mixed-use properties as one solution to these critical issues.

The approach to constructing retail/mixed-use projects requires property managers to be involved from the planning of a development's function as well as throughout the construction process. It assists the developer in keeping contractors on the same timelines and within budget to ensure that the project is designed and built properly and delivered on time.

The manager must work closely with the project's architects, space planners and landscape architects so all aspects of the development process are monitored for the purpose of building a project that will achieve the "best use" for both the commercial and residential units. In addition, property managers must have experience in managing the daily operations of retail and residential in order to harmoniously meet the demands of all the tenants and residents who share the common surroundings of a facility, but have separate requirements and goals.

To ensure harmony between the two components is maintained, managers must be able to think like an owner in terms of value, like a retailer in respect to the success of the business, and like a resident in how the daily environment affects their quality of life.

The above issues and many others must be addressed at the beginning of the design, construction and/or renovation process. They are similarly faced in all retail/mixed-use developments and are essential in the success of the project.

Spectrum Property Management is a real estate company with expertise in managing mixed-use property as part of their diverse 5 million-square-foot commercial portfolio.

The former La Jolla Marketplace is a good example of a mixed-use renovation project in progress being managed by Spectrum. In order to effectively renovate this three-story 31,000-square-foot property, the existing retail and additional residential had to be carefully designed in order to work with the property's original plan and zoning. The original plan had residential units on the third floor and the office and retail suites on the first and second floors.

Since second floor commercial is rarely successful, the design for the project features residential units on both the second and third floors with the retail suites on the first floor. Tenant mix for the retail is carefully selected to offer goods and services that are compatible with the residential use. It is important to provide a healthy environment for uses as they relate to each other and create daily living conditions that complement each other.

When considering the project's security, the residential units must have a clear point of separation from the retail uses. This helps maintain the residents' right to privacy while permitting them to enjoy the common areas of the project without infringing on the rights of the retail tenants. In addition, security should be provided by the same company so that everyone can be policed and protected with seamless coverage.

Proper planning of parking to provide the appropriate amount of spaces for both residential and retail units is critical in getting the project approved and essential in maintaining a peaceful living and working environment. Resident parking must be convenient, accessible and designated away from the retail areas. Retail parking must be accessible, ample and in close proximity to the businesses.

Lease administration with regard to rental payment, repairs, common area maintenance, security, parking, delivery of goods and trash must be administered as it applies to the different needs and laws that govern the use. It is important to provide management services that honor and protect commercial and residential use rights.

Retail/mixed-use projects succeed when commercial and residential units are conceived with the intent of producing an environment that is compatible and complimentary to each other. To be successful, property managers must be forward thinkers, knowledgeable about the product and deeply involved in the projects' planning from conceptualization through completion.


Labertew is director of real estate at Spectrum Property Management.

The former La Jolla Marketplace is being renovated and will accommodate both residential and commercial uses.

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