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Thread: What does an UP do at a RED Firm

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Jakers's avatar
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    What does an UP do at a RED Firm

    OK so this may be a stupid question but, if anyone out there has an MUP and works for a real estate development firm I would like to know what it is you do? I have a residential real estate sales background and am going for my MUP in the Spring. I am interested in RED and historical pres, urban revitalization, and brownfield development. I dont know if I want to work for Govt or RED coming fresh out of my masters, perhaps both over the course of my career but Id like to have a better understanding of the role of an urban planner in a RED Firm to help focus my area of specialization. Any comments/experiences/ inclinations/rumors etc... will help.

    Thanks all

    "Inside Joke"

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    In my experience working for developers as a consultant and working directly for a developer, folks on the developer's team with planning backgrounds or planning knowledge tend to function more as a project manager or owner's rep than as a planner. Most design work, land use/building permit application prep, and other similar duties fall to the developer's consultants. Be prepared to have little to do with actual pencil-to-paper design work.

    The developer's PM typically oversees consultants, vendors and contractors, and provides guidance to the development team. Lots of babysitting and whip cracking involved, and aside from providing direction on our design preferences and permitting strategies, I found my planning and design background to be of limited use in most cases. However, when it came time to represent at public hearings and negotiate with public agencies, my planning skills definitely came through.

    IMO, you should learn as much as you can about project management methodologies and software, financial/pro forma analysis, contract negotiation (be ready to duke it out with consultants and contractors), and budget & schedule creation/management. Pretty dry stuff compared to the design work I did as a planning consultant, though I found that having the ability to not only get a project designed and permitted, but also built and operational is very rewarding.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Joe Iliff's avatar
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    I worked for a year for a shopping center developer. My role was a lot of due diligence, research, cost and time estimates for the project managers, collaboration with the site designers for compliance with local regulations, representing the developer before local officials, etc.

    In this kind of a role, my planning background was very useful, but I wasn't "planning" like someone who drafts plans or enforces regulations does. It is a very different point of view when you are (or work for) the property owner and site designer than for the jurisidiction.
    JOE ILIFF
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian Jakers's avatar
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    [QUOTE=jbear;484144]In my experience working for developers as a consultant and working directly for a developer, QUOTE]

    Which did you like better and why?

    Thanks! Great info!
    "Inside Joke"

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I would have to say that I liked consulting more, mainly for the variety of project types and the creativity that comes with feasibility analysis, master planning and site design.

    However, the developer I worked for built a uniform, industrial product that really didn't appeal to my creative side. If I had worked for a developer that was involved in more interesting projects (i.e. mixed-use, TOD, higher density infill residential, etc.), I think I would've enjoyed it more.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Jakers's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jbear View post
    I would have to say that I liked consulting more, mainly for the variety of project types and the creativity that comes with feasibility analysis, master planning and site design.

    However, the developer I worked for built a uniform, industrial product that really didn't appeal to my creative side. If I had worked for a developer that was involved in more interesting projects (i.e. mixed-use, TOD, higher density infill residential, etc.), I think I would've enjoyed it more.
    So, in your opinion, if I wanted to work in consulting would it be beneficial to work for the government for a bit after school to gain experience and contacts before moving into private or is that path moot since they are very sperate worlds? Practically speaking.

    Thanks for the feedback!
    "Inside Joke"

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Public sector experience is beneficial to the private sector planner and vice versa... the skills and knowledge needed in each are very transferable, though there are many differences between the two. Or you can just go straight into private. Either way you'll be starting at the bottom and learning as you go.

    The key is to have a good mentor wherever you end up. Aside from doing project review and hearings for a city as a contract planner, I never worked in the public sector, but my mentor/supervisor/principal spent many years as a senior municipal planner and he helped me understand the public process and how to work within the system.

    And in this economy, I'd say take whatever job you can find, be it private consulting, public, or with a developer.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Jakers's avatar
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    Thanks JBear!

    Great feedback. If you or anyone else has anything else to add please dont hesitate.

    Cheers
    "Inside Joke"

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Jakers's avatar
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    Now does educational background (Policy vs Design focus) play a part in ones marketibility or ability to work in private companies?

    I most likely will be going to a policy oriented school and I was wondering if that will inhibit me in some way towarda career in private consulting or with a RED firm?
    "Inside Joke"

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