How does the investor/developer view the urban design challenge? The equation is straightforward from a commercial perspective: any additional costs arising from improved urban design need to be compensated by a sufficient increase in returns.
The additional return requirement is not necessarily a linear function of costs. If the urban design improvements are deemed to be highly risky, for example, mixed-used development in a low density suburban environment where the tried and true product is detached housing, then the investor will want a premium on standard returns.
Luckily, it has been demonstrated that developers can, indeed, make a more than satisfactory return from lifting their investment in urban design. The returns come in a variety of forms including higher rentals from tenants and better prices from end-buyers who are happy to pay for superior amenity and environmental perlormance. Other benefits for the urban design-sawy developer include lower operating costs, lower tenant turnover and vacancy rates, enhanced reputation and market credibility for the investor and a more robust, 'future proofed', real estate project. As more developers learn of these benefits, the general quality of urban design can be expected to improve.