Lately I’ve been having having a sort of love-affair with mixed-use developments. They aim to bring a high quality of life to residents by making certain amenities within walking distance, and who can really argue with that? Within the last few years this has begun to be a trend, as if people are trying to make bring communities closer, and make them more tight-knit than they have been over the last couple of decades. I can’t say that I don’t miss it myself.
What is Mixed-Use Development?
Also called “New Urbanism”, this type of pedestrian-centered development is popping up all over the U.S. in the form of neighborhoods and single buildings. It may combine two or more types of land uses, such as residential, commercial, entertainment, or employment. The closest one to my location is Baxter Village, in Fort Mill, SC. I have a few friends who have moved in over the last several years, and they really love it.
Baxter Village: An Example
So what is it exactly, that is so great about living in a mixed-use development like Baxter? Well, Fort Mill has one of the best school districts in South Carolina, and there’s an elementary school and a public library located within the community. If you can remember the days of walking to school to because it was just that close, imagine your children being able to do that now.
And for those days when you find out that the book report is due TOMORROW (oops!), you can just send your procrastinator down to the library to handle it on their own!
Residents of Baxter can also enjoy their own two-story YMCA branch complete with a waterpark for those hot South Carolina summers. And in case you find that you’ve played just a little bit too hard, the community has it’s own healthcare centers, including Piedmont Urgent Care Center at Baxter Village, to get you fixed up without too much hassle.
Of course, the crowning jewel of Baxter is the Town Center, an area of unique restaurants and shops for people to gather, dine, and… well, shop. The number of things you can get done in Baxter Village’s “downtown” is actually kind of astonishing. Dry cleaning? Check. Need something sweet? Check. Botox? Check. Orthodontist? Check. Massage? Jewelry? Ultrasound? Board Games? Check, check check check! It’s all RIGHT THERE! Within walking distance, no less. So even if you’re not a village resident and you’re just looking for a place to escape for a few hours, you can count on Baxter’s Town Center to keep you busy.
Getting Back to an Older Way of Life
So whether you’re looking for a new place to live, work, or visit for a day, you may want to consider a mixed-use development like Baxter Village. Perhaps one of the best parts about the Fort Mill neighborhood is the sense of community that is created by placing things with a walkable proximity. There was a time (a better time, in my opinion), when people walked down to the convenience store or the grocer and stopped at friends’ front porches along the way.
Maybe they would be short stops, or maybe it would be a longer visit for a cookie and a glass of tea. The point is that communities used to be made up of people who communicate! As time has gone on, people spend more time in their cars driving from one place to another than they even spend in the places they’re travelling to, and certainly more than they spend enjoying their neighbors company!
So I guess if there’s one thing that impresses me most about New Urbanism and mixed-use development, it’s that I am not the only one who feels this way. There appears to be a movement of people who have noticed the same thing and decided to do something about it. And I, for one, feel pretty great about it!
License: Creative Commons
License: Creative Commons image source
David Tooley is a freelance blogger who grew up in Rock Hill, SC. He recently travelled back to his hometown and was thrilled to see the positive changes in Rock Hill and the cities all around. He occasionally writes for Financial Times Digest.