Typically 4-storey or higher buildings with ground floor retail come to mind when thinking about mixed-use, but there is also a smaller scale of mixed-use known as live/work. I have seen few examples of live/work in the region, and the ones that I have seen are mostly ground-level townhouses or apartments that can be legally used for commercial proposes. When reading over the latest Township of Langley Council agenda, I saw a live/work proposal that was different than most and has great potential.
One of the current challenges when introducing higher-density development into established single-family neighbourhoods is the perceived issue of mixing density. Many planners recommend a transitional density to combat this perceived concern.
|Example of density step-down. Select image to enlarge.|
The Willoughby Community Hall is located at the intersection of 208th Street and 83rd Avenue. This location is slated to become a higher-density development. The hall will be retained. Single-family housing is located to the north and the east of this location. Between this higher-density area and the single-family area along 83rd, there is a proposal to build a run-of-the-mill townhouse development. There is a twist to this project though.
|Drawing of proposed mixed-use development on 83rd Avenue. Select image to enlarge.|
The units that front 83rd will also incorporate ground level commercial space. While small, it will give people the opportunity to have space for, or start, a small business. If it is a retails business, it will contribute to the vibrancies of the public realm and promote walkability. In fact, these businesses could draw people into walking further to other retail along 208th Street like the new Willoughby Town Centre.
I like this project because it provides a gradual density transition that many single-family homeowner desire, and supports building an accessible community. If this development is successful, it would be worth looking at zoning for similar style projects in other parts of Langley (like Brookswood) and the South of Fraser. While the density may be lower than a typical mixed-use development, it will still support building a walkable community if built in the right location.