Photo Credit: Pixabay Local shopping plazas and mixed use properties will play an important role in Canada's future than many realize. Building and redeveloping more of these types of commercial properties may be just what's needed to ensure long term vitality in more Canadian cities. While some have been bearish on retail in general, others are seizing timely opportunities to double down in this investment sector. Brooklyn, NY for example has recently unveiled a new plan for improving their local economy and ensuring it remains sustainable and vibrant for the next 100 years. A plan that relies heavily in building and redeveloping more local shopping plazas and mixed-use spaces. Considering this plan is in a market that's already world famous for its shopping, supports the pivotal role mixed-use real estate is already playing in some sectors. Why are these properties and investments so important and valuable? Local Shopping Plazas are Still Highly Relevant & Profitable While some big retailers and chains have struggled to expand and remain profitable in recent years, the director of digital marketing at Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) says they see their brick and mortar stores as ongoing assets. Adding that “Store-based returns are much easier at a cost level for retailers who have stores and are convenient for customers, he said, and online retail does not have a good solution for impulse purchases: if you want something immediately, the quickest way to get it is to drive to the nearest store.” HBC reports that its store traffic has remained steady and physical retail sales have continued to grow. Growing Need for Local Distribution Centers Online shopping is growing. Browsing online and checking reviews before going to the shops is growing even more. Still, the biggest challenge for online retailers is the ability to get orders to consumers in the least amount of time. Local commercial properties are vital for facilitating this growth with both curbside pickup and rapid home delivery. Providing Infrastructure for Businesses For local economies to grow and sustain themselves they need a good mix and variety of business spaces. That's everything from coffee shops and coworking spaces in order to hatch new business ideas, to small private offices and retail storefronts for testing and growing, and back office space for handling online orders and operations. Local shopping plazas and next generation mixed-use sites can build much of this in to one property. Crucial for Local Economies Local economies rely on local employment and residents to sustain themselves and scale. Local shopping plazas offer a variety of essential jobs and employment opportunities. New mixed-use properties can incorporate modern education facilities and workforce development programs to train locals with the skills needed for current and future jobs. This aids upward mobility, equality in opportunities, and higher incomes. That in turn helps housing remain affordable, and supports growing tax receipts and revenues to provide more local services. Summary Canadian provinces and cities who are serious about sustaining themselves and supporting more growth are going to find that new and redeveloped mixed-use properties are vital to their vision, goals and successes. Investing in this can provide individual investors much satisfaction in knowing the important and valuable role they are playing in supporting their local economies and the future they are helping to build, while earning solid investment returns.