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Thread: Recruiting residential developers to a community

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Recruiting residential developers to a community

    Provided there's no last minute surprises in the comp planning process, it seems like the community where I work is headed in the direction of traditional neighborhood development in place of conventional suburban development.

    The problem is that TND is very rare in this part of the country. It's mostly small mom-and-pop and "green" developers and homebulders here, and they just don't know how to do it. They're familiar with conventional suburban development, and 1970s-style clusters. There's a very famous clustered cohousing development in the town, and it seems like when we get any proposals for an "innovative" project, they're all variants of that project; random and "organic" building arrangement, parking areas that are far removed from the dwellings, low gross density, and so on. Nothing wrong with that kind of clustering in rural areas, but it's not compatible with the more compact mixed use communities we're trying to promote. Educating builders on TND probably won't work, because its form is antithetical to the homestead/ecological orientation many hold

    Have other communities actively tried to recruit residential developers when the local builders can't or won't build the kind of product you're looking for?

    FWIW, the community in question has a very low housing vacancy rate, and very high demand. Local home prices increased through the Great Recession.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I have done this for both multifamily and single family subdivision development. The trick is to develop a concept and support it with a market analysis. Then it can be shopped around to developers who have built the kind of subdivision you want.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I agree with Cardinal. About 7 years ago I designed conceptual subdivision designs for a municipality which were then used as unofficial guidelines for future development. This will not work in every community, especially those with rigorous, well-defined ordinances and adopted guidelines. However, it is an important discussion tool at the table with developers that shows HOW the project will work specifically in town (as opposed to showing developers examples of things done elsewhere). In addition to a market analysis, I would also consider throwing a few other carrots at the developers, such as allowing more flexibility on other sites in town in exchange for a desired site/sites. There are ways of doing this without significantly deviating from the code.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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