Beginning a Land Development Project? It Could Benefit from a Fresh Look.
By Steve Troskey, CGA Planner. When it comes to land development, two things typically determine the project’s details: market demand and local regulations. These two items aren’t feasibly changed within the time it takes to create a concept, gain regulatory approval, and build, but a developer can think about the small details that can take a project from “typical” to beautiful.
Engineers typically look at a piece of land and use their talents to professionally design a site for optimal water flow or ideal infrastructural layout. They look at the specifications of the project from a practical angle—what makes the most sense. How positioning the parking stalls, utilities, etc., will impact water runoff, the number of parking spaces, and so on.
But what if we peeled back another layer of a project and thought about how a site interacts with its neighbors? How it might be perceived in the marketplace of similar buildings? How we can gain a competitive edge? A planner might be able to add these components to the project.
For example, let’s look at a typical subdivision development through the lens of a professional planner and see how it might be improved, with a relatively low cost:
To use round numbers, PVC pipe and cast-iron pipe last around fifty years. We can hopefully expect little infrastructure maintenance within that time. Studies have shown the average American family makes approximately ten trips per day. That’s 3,650 trips per year, coming and going from their home into their neighborhood. What the neighborhood looks like is important to homeowners and potential buyers! Recent studies show that the addition of trees throughout residential streets add up to a 15% value to homeowners and can actually reduce car crashes. In addition, most people say having trees and other landscaping greatly improves the look and feel of a neighborhood.
Relate this to a new land development project: Does the city allow terrace trees, or are they disallowed? Is this small but meaningful change worth having a conversation with the city?
In a nutshell, land development could include much more than a site designed for optimal water runoff and a maintenance schedule of infrastructure. Landscaping and trees, just for quick examples, could provide an immediate and long-lasting benefit. Involve a professional planner in your next land development project to provide a fresh, new angle!