Given the recent tough economic times, many organizations have been forced to re-examine the ways in which they conduct business and assess the real needs and desires of their customers. That said, one real estate model that continues to
thrive is the concept of mixed-use.
Mixed-use developments have the advantage of offering a
“one-stop,” efficient environment that generates
economic and social value for developers, property owners and
guests. This type of planning is more environmentally sustainable
and also can maximize land use and space, reduce traffic and
sprawl, and create walkable and engaging neighborhoods that
cultivate social connections.
Using the mixed-use concept, waterpark operators have the potential
to expand their existing facilities. Integrating some combination
of retail, office, residential, hotel, recreation and/or other
functions can enhance offerings and create added
Following are some strategies to consider when planning and
designing for mixed use at your waterpark operation.
Develop a common vision. Begin by developing a
vision that is shared by all of the project’s stakeholders,
leveraging the history, culture, natural advantages, location and
overall context of a site that creates a strong identity and
character for the overall development.
Know your customer. Get to know the target end
users and customers. Engage them in conversation and feedback
before and during the design process so that development can
appropriately cater to their demands.
In addition to traditional supply-based analyses, conduct
demand-based economic studies to determine the amount of space that
can be supported for various uses under consideration, including
residential and commercial revenue-generating space, such as
retail, restaurants, entertainment, lodging or office space.
Plan for seamless flow of cars and people. Because
traffic flow is critical to the success of the overall mixed-use
experience, consider a pedestrian, vehicular and recreational flow
system that will link and activate all the areas and districts
within your development. People should be able to access the site
conveniently, and then move constantly to and from a series of
interconnected district areas (with the ability to spend more time
at their chosen experiences throughout the whole
This designed integration of experience and planning for the flow
of people will dramatically improve the overall economics of the
commercial, the residential, and the overall quality of enjoyment
for residents and visitors.
Think green. Mixed-use is inherently a green
concept, and consumers are becoming increasingly interested in
design techniques that are respectful and responsible in their
approach to green building. In fact, a number of waterparks and
other aquatics facilities now are pursuing LEED
Maximize your waterpark season. Many indoor
waterparks have been developed as anchors in four-season locations.
If it’s not already, is there a way to make your waterpark
viable year ’round? Regardless of whether that’s a
possibility, consider the extent to which your program offers a
diversity of uses and experiences that maximize your
customers’ length of stay and spending patterns. Do you have
activities throughout the day and evening during weekdays and
Develop distinct districts. Plan and develop the
whole of your property by designing distinct areas or districts so
that the designated function of each area helps define the space
via appropriate amenities.
The physical design of the districts should reinforce the overall
vision and complement the architectural, historical and cultural
vernacular of the region. The blend of districts should maximize
people’s ability to instinctively enjoy the natural
advantages of the site most hours of the day and evening.
Additionally, each district should include “anchors,”
highly used amenities, attractions or commercial concepts that
reinforce the feel and function of that area. A waterpark can be a
compelling and synergistic anchor with other recreational uses, or
integrated within a mixed-use village district.
Keep it tight. To create a more compact and
inter-connected whole that benefits from shared infrastructure,
such as parking and public areas, you’ll want to keep
individual spaces fairly small. That means when it comes to retail,
restaurant and entertainment uses, design smaller spaces that can
be combined with additional free-selling space, such as outdoor
patios, which also provide the commercial businesses with an