Mixed Use

Mixed Use areas are centers within the Primary Service Area where higher density development, redevelopment, and/or a broader spectrum of land uses are encouraged. Mixed Use areas located at or near interstate interchanges and the intersections of major thoroughfares are intended to maximize the economic development potential of these areas by providing areas primarily for more intensive commercial, office, and limited industrial purposes.

The other Mixed Use areas are intended to provide flexibility in design and land uses in order to protect and enhance the character of the area.

Recommended Uses & Intensity


While there is no preferred mix of uses for every Mixed Use development, each development should have a mix of uses that complements the area, and as written in the specific descriptions below. James City County has examples of Mixed Use areas with minimal residential development (such as McLaws Circle), but the mix of office, limited retail, and light industrial development creates an acceptable mixing of uses. Mixed Use developments that include residential components should have commercial or office uses that complement those residences.

Residences should be encouraged to patronize those areas, and the entire development should be cohesive to create a greater potential for internal capture of vehicle trips. While mixed use buildings are not essential or desirable for all developments, they should be encouraged for those Mixed Use centers that seek to achieve higher densities and seek to create a more urban environment. The recommended Floor Area Ratio (FAR) range will depend on the context of the specific Mixed Use area, but for all areas it is strongly encouraged that opportunities for on-street parking, shared parking, structured parking and other measures to cohesively plan development be considered that maximize the efficient use of land and achieve FARs close to, or greater than, 0.4.

Recommended Density


Moderate to high density residential uses with a maximum gross density of 18 dwelling units per acre could be encouraged in Mixed Use areas where such development would complement and be harmonious with existing and potential development and offer particular public benefits to the community. In order to encourage higher quality design, a residential development of this gross density is not recommended unless it offers particular public benefits to the community. Examples of such benefits include affordable housing, workforce housing, enhanced environmental protection, a high degree of access to multi-modal/transit transportation, or development that adheres to the principles of open space development design. (See Residential Development Standards for more specific guidance on meeting these criteria.)

Mixed Use Development Standards


  • All developments should refer to the Residential and Commercial/Industrial Development Standards along with the Mixed Use Development Standards.
  • Mixed Use developments should create vibrant urban environments that bring compatible land uses, public amenities, and utilities together at various scales. These developments should create pedestrian-friendly, higher-density development, and a variety of uses that enable people to live, work, play, and shop in 1 place, which can become a destination.
  • Mixed Use developments require nearby police and fire protection, arterial road access, access to public utilities, large sites, environmental features such as soils and topography suitable for intense development, and proximity or easy access to large population centers. The timing and intensity of commercial development at a particular site are controlled by the maintenance of an acceptable level of service for roads and other public services, the availability and capacity of public utilities, and the resulting mix of uses in a particular area. Master plans are encouraged to assist in the consideration of Mixed Use development proposals. The consideration of development proposals in Mixed Use areas should focus on the development potential of a given area compared to the area’s infrastructure and the relation of the proposal to the existing and proposed mix of land uses and their development impacts.
  • Mixed Use developments should focus on place-making. Developments should be designed to create a sense of place and should be seen as community destinations. Focal open spaces, community oriented gathering places, unified architectural design, and a mix of uses and design that encourages pedestrian activity are all examples of creating a sense of place.
  • Mixed Use developments should allow for higher development intensities that create more efficient buildings and spaces, which can be less of a burden on the environment, creating a more sustainable community.
  • Mixed Use developments should encourage the proximity of diverse uses to make it possible to reduce vehicle trips and vehicle miles traveled, providing for a greater potential for internal capture than with typical suburban development.
Please refer to this section of the Comprehensive Plan to review more specific information of specific Mixed Use areas within the County.