Mixed-use developments are a hot commodity today but these projects are not for the weak of heart. A panel of mixed-use experts shared their success stories and offered plenty of helpful tips for those just getting into the game. The speakers included Tod Elkins, a partner at UrbanWorks Architecture; Sharon Dworkin Bell, senior staff vice president, multifamily, for NAHB; and Brian Gorecki, vice president at Sherman Associates.

The top five rules for success:
1. Let each use stand on its own.
2. Design for synergy and be sure to manage smells and noises.
3. Design for flexibility and invest in the potential for a variety of future site uses.
4. Get the parking right. One effective solution: A small "teaser" surface lot to catch consumers' attention leading to a large underground garage.
5. Assemble the right team and understand the process.

The panelists discussed two notable projects worth checking out: 1301 University, a student housing project in Minneapolis directly across from the University of Minnesota that's collecting the highest rents in the state. The project, designed by UrbanWorks Architecture, features 92 housing units and the Purple Onion Coffee Shop. Visit www.1301University.com for more information. Also, check out Sherman Associates' latest mixed-use endeavor at www.syndicateliving.com. The 480,000-square-foot, early 20th century Syndicate Trust Building in St. Louis formerly housed a department store and now features ground-floor retail and a mix of affordable and market-rate condos and apartments.