How Land Planners & Developers Collaborate on Master-Planned Communities

February 12, 2021

How Land Planners & Developers Collaborate on Master-Planned Communities

The land development and design of a master-planned community can prove challenging, especially when you factor in financial realities and quality of design. The idea is to maximize land use while considering time and costs — a reality that both planners and developers contribute to immensely.

In fact, the overall impact that this relationship has on master-planned communities allows a community to charge more and sell out faster than the proforma, thus causing the internal rate of return to increase significantly.

Land planners and developers have a collaborative relationship in turning undeveloped land into a master-planned community. Here's how that relationship plays out in the process of developing a master-planned community.

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PLACEMAKING

What sets a great land planner apart from a good one is the land planner's ability to use placemaking to create differentiation that leads to premium pricing and greater absorption. Not to mention their ability to help communities envision and shape a better future from beginning to end. 

The key elements of quality places vary, but according to CNU Journal, they include:

  • A mix of uses
  • Effective public spaces
  • Broadband capability
  • Multiple transportation options
  • Multiple housing options
  • Preservation of historic structures
  • Respect to community heritage
  • Arts, culture, and creativity
  • Recreation
  • Greenspace
  • Quiet, unless they are designed to be otherwise

Quality developers value placemaking because they are building great places for buyers to live. These places aren't built with just the intent of making a quick buck but rather creating a safe, welcoming community that is likely to last 100 years or more. As an additional benefit, they also understand that they will get a greater return by creating these great places.

LOTS, SIZING, AND PRICING

A vital component of the organization and design plan for land use is an in-depth understanding of lots, sizing, and pricing. All three factors play an important role in assisting developers in using their land in the most efficient ways possible by making the best use of space, designing lots in a manner that utilizes the area of your land to its full potential, and doing so in a cost-efficient way that maintains the integrity of the master-planned community. 

Land firms can help identify the appropriate number of lots and the size of each lot that the land planner can include. According to Dewberry, this begins with conceptual planning and developing "a comprehensive assessment of the opportunities and constraints of the land in question — from multiple perspectives such as transportation and infrastructure networks to smart growth and sustainable design issues." Not to mention the need for regular site feasibility assessments.

On the other hand, developers are interested in knowing how many lots they can fit and sell, so they can begin creating a plan for ROI. With the extensive knowledge behind the site and its opportunities provided by land planners, land developers can then begin planning with more insight into realistic expectations and estimates.

It is also important that developers take this information and expand it in ways that make use of the land space.

CITY REQUIREMENTS

Different cities have rules and regulations that new neighborhoods must adhere to in terms of zoning. These zoning and land-use laws affect the types of properties that can be included in the community and tie back to the lots/sizing/pricing section.

Aside from separating residential, commercial, and industrial districts (or zones), there are generally additional restrictions to look out for, like:

  • Specific requirements as to the type of buildings allowed
  • Location of utility lines
  • Restrictions on accessory buildings, building setbacks from the streets, and other boundaries
  • Size and height of buildings
  • Number of rooms

Think Architecture explains that the list can be "varied and extensive, so before you buy, you must first check all zoning regulations to be sure that you can do what you want to do with the property." With that being said, they also include regulations such as:

  • Frontage of lots
  • Minimum lot area
  • Side yards
  • Off-street parking
  • Historical or cultural site preservation
  • Ecological considerations

This information provided by the land planner plays a vital part in the responsibilities of a builder and developer. They need to understand the city requirements thoroughly, so they know what they can and cannot build. Otherwise, any misunderstandings or misinterpretations could lead to high costs and profit losses when changes need to be made. 

COMMUNITY AMENITIES

Community amenities are another component of land planner responsibilities that help craft the vision of the developer or builder. Without this knowledge and insight, it would be much more difficult to find opportunities that can increase profits and attract sales. 

In fact, city requirements/zoning laws can be instrumental in identifying the potential for:

  1. Schools
  2. Parks
  3. Mixed-use property
  4. Ease of transportation

That knowledge can then be used to further land development and planning. SEH advises that taking this information and exploring your 'creative side' can make a significant difference in results. For instance, you should consider "community amenities such as pools, party rooms, and playgrounds" when selecting products and projects because they "may be just the thing to lure in a prospective group of buyers." 

They also report that nearly 40% of homeowners are dog owners, so consider places to walk and community areas around dog amenities to attract buyers to a more neighborhood feel.

It All Ties Together

Essentially, it all comes down to the combination of land planner responsibilities and how they build the foundation for the vision that developers and home builders intend to bring to life. The overall impact of their relationship significantly influences your master-planned community and the resulting internal rate of returns. 

From there, you'll want to partner with a team of experts like those at Milesbrand for master-planned community marketing to ensure the right buyers hear about the opportunity when they're ready to buy. By reaching the right audience at the right time, we help master-planned communities create a competitive advantage over their competition. When you’re ready to stand out from your competitors, partner with Milesbrand.

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