Picture derived from www.rent.com
Development sites come in all shapes and sizes. As a rule of thumb, the closer you get to the urban core, the smaller the site required to do a deal. The farther away from the urban core, the larger the site required. Both kinds of sites have their own unique sets of challenges. Smaller urban sites require crane procurement, air rights, permissions for street closures, and traffic plans for construction equipment. They require a lot of geotechnical and structural engineering work since the more you build up, the more you have to dig down.
Smaller urban sites will also more likely have title issues and environmental issues, since urban sites change hands more often and are closer to more intensive uses. The good part is that, since you are dealing with a smaller area, the soil type, grading, and stormwater drainage are much smaller factors. You can also more easily tap into existing utility lines, and urban sites are much closer to existing public services. Project costs on these sites are much more dependent on the vertical building costs rather than the horizontal infrastructure needs and site preparation. Because of this, architects lead the way and coordinate most of the consultants.
Suburban sites have the opposite challenges. In these sites, the X factor in your project costs is mainly due to the horizontal elements of the site. Since you aren't building too high up, your main risks are topography, drainage, access to utilities, and geology. If you have dramatic topography and flood plain issues, your usable acreage can go down significantly. If you have less compact and more expansive soils like clay inhabiting 4 acres of you project, it will be difficult or expensive to mitigate or replace. The less permeable space on the site, the more you will be required to create a retention or detention pond to allow stormwater to more gently subside back into the water table or stormwater drainage pipelines. It might be pretty easy to design and construct a 4 story garden style property, but designing and developing the site can be very tricky. Because of these elements, the land development engineer will play a much more significant role and will share responsibilities heavily with the architect.
For suburban sites, Site Identify makes it easy to spot potential flood plain and soil hazards, and also makes it easy to measure the usable acreage of a site. Instead of running a pro forma and finding out later on that the soil types are going to add 10% to the project cost and the flood plain is going to take out 20% of your unit count, you can see the basic soil types as provided by the United States Department of Agirculture (USDA) and flood plain as provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Site Identify is also working on an elevation tool that can show developers high and low elevation areas of a site. So, in the future, developers will be a lot less surprised when they go out to visit a suburban development site.
If you are interested in using Site Identify to control your development or brokerage pipeline, feel free to email us at Info@SiteIdentify.com or Click Here to Schedule a 15 Minute Web Demonstration!
The official Site Identify blog
David Morin (co-founder)