Developing in Dallas: A Comprehensive Site-Finding Strategy

As they say, give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime. We could spend a couple of days putting together a very nice list of possible sites around Dallas county for a development project, and you might find use in it today - but it won’t help you tomorrow.

Instead, we have for you a checklist that encompasses the milestones of choosing the right site for your project. Use this as a template in your decision-making and you’ll have construction underway in no time.

This is the third instalment in our continuing blog series on development yield optimization. The following posts will cover many of the questions and concerns regarding development projects. If you’re just joining us now, you may find the previous articles of use as well.

Follow the shortcuts:

Part 1 – The Essentials of Optimizing Development Yield

Part 2 – Best Practices for Keeping a Development Project on Budget

Part 3 – Developing in Dallas: A Site-Finding Strategy

Part 4 – Increasing Development ROI in Dallas County

Part 5 – Profitable Strategies for Commercial Development in Dallas

Part 6 - Is Your Site Right for Your Development Project?

Part 7 - Optimizing Your Development Yield Within Your Vision

Establish and confirm specifications for your development vision

Or in other words, know thine enemy. Your enemy is unassessed risk. If you’ve had even the slightest bit of experience in the field, or at least have been reading this series from the beginning, you’ll know that the Devil is in the details. I’ll include a checklist of often overlooked details below:

  • Economic model: see budget and risk mitigation
  • Target demographic, and the challenges in marketing for that locality.
  • Compatible zoning and land use, or can you get as many square feet as you are hoping for?
  • Minimum site developable area. What’s the least amount of space required to meet your target?
  • Maximum cost per acre. At what point does the levee break - you ought to have this number and a strategy in place to catch the warning signs of going over budget in hard costs.
  • Utility availability - straight forward but essential.
  • Access requirements, such as roads, parking lots, and neighborhood specific zoning requirements.
  • Egress requirements, as prescribed by law.
  • Desired proximities, which are site-specific.

The more the merrier

You have a checklist and a plan, now it’s time to scope out as many sites as you can, and as a result, create a list of possible locations for your project. This is a numbers game, and the longer your list, the greater your odds become of finding a perfect fit for your vision. If time is an issue - excuse me - since time is an issue, set yourself a target number of sites to find that reach your criteria. Even if this means driving around for an extra three days, the sunburn on your left arm will be well worth the finished product rather than taking the first site you find.

Having an integrated design and site optimization specialist along for the ride here can make the difference between a satisfactory site and one that was meant to be. On top of this, exploring your options also allows you to get a better feel for the locations in question, and running each location through your checklist might refine your vision even further.

Pros and Cons

Hopefully by this point you have a long enough list to have you considering expanding your project size. This is the point in time to compare and contrast one to the other. Remember, due to different zoning regulations in different neighborhoods and counties, two identical sites may mean a world of difference when it comes to soft costs.

Important metrics to consider when shortlisting are:

  • Opportunities vs. Constraints
  • Cost vs. Local Pricelisting
  • Vision vs. Demographics
  • Priorities if developing more than one project

Validate the preferred site with your development vision

A conceptual drawing will give you a fairly concise plan of action as far as suiting the site to the vision. Not only will this help with your budget and risk mitigation, but a validated site also secures your sales strategy against the area's demographics and marketing strategy for income properties. Securing the economic model may also aid in the decision for an appropriate opening bid while purchasing the property itself.

Final thoughts

In short, we’re hoping that you have gained some insight in choosing the right property for your development project. No matter how many years in the business or mastery of scouting, the golden rule remains: the more information, the better.

NEXT -->  Increasing Development ROI in Dallas County


Topics: Comercial Development, Development Yield Optimization

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