For years, urban planners, developers, architects, elected officials, neighborhood residents, community organizations, and a huge array of other interested parties have worked together addressing the difficult challenges of community revitalization. While the challenges differ from neighborhood to neighborhood and town to town, some issues are common in the most troubled situations.
Low property values, high development costs, weak real estate markets, poor public perception, and aging infrastructure are frequently part of the mix. There's another major issue challenging community developers: the difficulty in site assembly.
Site assembly is not a sexy issue. In fact, it can be downright dull. While it's going on, there's usually not a shovel in the ground, and lots of money being spent. It gets further clouded when viewed in discussions involving the use of eminent domain. Nonetheless, for any development to occur, it's an absolute necessity. The lack of site assembly can hold back redevelopment efforts for decades.
Bring together a group of experienced community developers from across the country, and they will usually agree that the ability to assemble large, contiguous sites for redevelopment is critical. Why is this important?
Successful redevelopment projects create positive visual impact and critical mass. They establish economy of scale in the installation of public and private improvements. They are connected.
For our local redevelopment efforts to be successful, where property ownership has become a dizzying patchwork of mostly tiny, often vacant, publicly and privately owned parcels, we must overcome the upfront challenge of site assembly to create opportunities to build quality planned developments.
For macro challenges we need solutions of scale.