Mixed Use Project Financing Hurdles

I am trying to wrap my head around this one, but it does not bode well for creating successful mixed use neighborhoods, and, especially, mixed use structures (i.e. Top of the Shop Housing).  A report by the Regional Plan Association (The Unintended Consequences
of Housing Finance) paints a bleak picture. The report notes that, federally backed housing construction loans do not allow for more than 15 – 25% of the project to be non-residential. To add just a second story onto the structures in downtown Dennis Port, would leave 50% of the floor space commercial. Even if these structures went to a full three stories (which the zoning actually limits to only a 2/3rds top story) the net result would exceed 25% non-residential.

This does not sit well for redeveloping village centers. It also does not do anything for promoting a mixed use future for other portions of town such as Exit 9. In fact, this federal policy will drive single use structures and sites and make integration of uses, in particular using upper stories of commercial footprints for housing, near impossible.

While we can try to wish this housing finance policy away, we will need to rethink some aspects of our zoning, and try to meet our mixed use goals, with a more flexible approach.

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