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Everything You Need to Know About Mixed-Use Communities

Mixed-use communities have become increasingly popular and continue to pop up across North America. These communities are a great option for people who lead an active lifestyle and value convenience; however, they function a little differently than the standard condominium or homeowners' association (HOA). To get the most out of this unique living experience, it’s essential to understand the residential structure and dynamic culture. Read on to learn about mixed-use communities, what you should know before moving into one, and more.

What is a mixed-use community?

A mixed-use community is a development that includes a combination of residential, commercial, and retail parcels. Mixed-use communities can be vertical or horizontal and can consist of a single or multiple buildings, as well as outdoor areas. These developments typically feature retail and commercial space on the ground floor, with residential units above. They tend to be located in urban areas and are ideal for people who prefer to live, work, and play in the same space.      

How are mixed-use associations structured?

Upon project completion, the developer will work with an attorney to create documents assigning responsibilities and controls within the community. Due to the variety of real estate, there are competing interests within mixed-use communities, but these documents are designed to protect everyone's investment. Many mixed-use communities have sub-associations—one residential and one commercial—under a master association, others have separate associations, and some have just one association with proportional board representation. No matter the structure, everyone must learn to co-exist and work to achieve the overall vision of the community. 

What should I know before moving into a mixed-use community?

Because mixed-use communities are so different, it's crucial to understand its association structure and your responsibilities before moving into or purchasing a residence in one. Prior to signing on the dotted line, you should gain clarity on the following: 

  • Allocation of common, limited common, shared facilities, and limited shared facility expenses
  • Assessment cost and structure  
  • Voting allocations and rights
  • Controls on permitted users  
  • Governing document limitations and amendment processes
  • Hours of operation and special event abilities  
  • Individual unit boundaries
  • Types of association membership
  • Maintenance, operation, management, and reconstruction responsibilities
  • Dispute resolution procedures
  • Residential owner protections for the deterioration or adverse use of other parcels

Asking questions about these topics is key to having a positive experience in a mixed-use association. Moving into this type of community is a huge decision, and how the association functions—legally, socially, and financially—are important to not only your investment but also your quality of life. 

Other Types of Communities

You’re likely familiar with condominiums or “condos.” It’s often assumed that a condo is a type of home; however, that isn’t always the case. There’s much more to a condo than the actual building, and understanding its distinctions is necessary. Read our article, “Everything You Need to Know About Condominium Associations,” to learn more about condos and get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about condominium associations.