Large-Scale Mixed-Use Developments as Catalytic Real Estate Projects: Evaluating the Narrative of Neighborhood Revitalization
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Large-scale MUDs increasingly anchor some of the fastest-developing urban neighborhoods in the United States. They can be either adaptive reuse or new construction, but all have a significant impact on their surrounding neighborhoods. These projects often receive outsize media attention; many are credited with catalyzing further development and sparking neighborhood revitalization. However, these types of MUD are some of the most complex projects in real estate, and placing such large-scale developments in changing or uncertain neighborhoods adds another element of risk. Indeed, todayﾒs large-scale urban mixed-use projects make manifest a reversal of 60 years of real estate development and investment practice regarding what kinds of projects could obtain financing in what places. Public and non-profit capital has been a common component in getting these projects built over the last decade. Examining how these projects fit within the context urban revitalization and how they have overcome traditional obstacles to development can be instructive for public entities seeking to harness that energy to revitalize distressed urban areas. This report will attempt to identify commonalities across projects that have been credited with transforming the market potential of their surroundings, including the characteristics of the neighborhoods in which they are located and the types of financing used. A literature review will provide context for mixed-use development as a revitalization tool, and will discuss obstacles to redevelopment projects as well as the forms of public-private partnership used to encourage real estate investment. Subsequently, a series of case studies will analyze four large mixed-use developments that have recently been built in neighborhoods around the country to identify where and how subsidy and non-traditional capital are being used to encourage so-called catalytic development.