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Author Topic: A Development Idea  (Read 3170 times)
jacobi
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« on: January 25, 2012, 12:00:47 pm »

So I've had an Idea that I thought I might run by the good people of TNF.

So it seems like there are alot of people who do suburben development and arn't affraid to sink money into buying huge acreage and subdividing it and building homes.  What if we could find a way to persude some these people to do things differently and build townhomes or foursquare apartments.  My idea is basicly for a sales pitch to worked up about why they should do it  and to show them the ropes of any special zoning or building ordinances they would have to deal with.  I have a feeling that some people just simply have the mindset "that's the way it's always been".  I think we need to get people out of the midset that projects have to be massive (i.e. take up whole city blocks at a time) to be dense.

It's the kind of thing that I think the TDA should be doing.  As well as, you know, doing anything.
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erfalf
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2012, 12:50:39 pm »

Why not instead of teaching developers how to navigate the zoning issues/ordinances they would have to deal with, we just make them easier to deal with.

Developers choose suburban areas because of money. There is more money in it right now. Let's take an apartment builder. First land is cheaper further from the core (although he needs more of it for his type of building). Rents are somewhat comparable depending on the quality. The hurdles that need to be jumped are far fewer as well, lowering development cost. Why would they come downtown? Plus there isn't a huge demand for condos right now (119 Downtown proved that), which is what the home builders would possibly consider. I doubt many want to be landlords.

Outside of a few developments downtown, these guys weren't considering locating in the burbs. They have a personal interest in downtown, which is great. But I doubt many if any were pondering "suburban vs urban".
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rdj
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2012, 01:35:18 pm »

This would near pipe dream because you can make a lot of money doing single family development on relative flat land that is abundant in suburban communities that have less strict zoning and code enforcement.  Additionally, a piece of flat land can sit vacant and not be developed for years with very little issues.  The cost of developing a neighborhood is in most cases, cheap land (because its on the periphery of the city with little amenities), engineering and laying of utilities/wastewater and streets.  An urban development can't sit vacant nor be developed in the length of phases a suburban development can.  As a result of these issues, the risk to a developer is much greater in an urban setting, with no real upswing in profit margin.

Also, just because someone does the residential development doesn't mean they build the houses.  In many cases the developer builds less than 25% of the houses in their neighborhoods.  Their profit is in selling the lots to other builders.

You'd be shocked at the sophistication, actually lack there of, of most residential builders and the ease at which many of them obtain credit to build a single family residence.  The vast majority wouldn't have the skills to build any type of four-plex or larger, if its not stick lumber they are their subs don't know a thing.  Also, banks understand a construction loan to build a single family residence, and first rule of lending is only lend on projects you fully understand.  It's easy, you get plans, you contract for a lot in the hottest new development, you get an appraisal, you loan 80% of the appraisal (which should always more than cover the cost to build) for twelve months with interest payments only and then you hope the house sells for more than the loan by the end of twelve months.  Bank pockets interest, builder pockets at least the 20%, unless he has to pay realtors their 6%, and he does it all over again. The process to do a larger project is much more complex and the dollar figures go up much quicker along with the zoning and code requirements.  Banks don't understand it and are less likely to lend on it.

I understand where you are coming from and certainly would love to see more capital come into urban development but convincing a fleet of home builders and developers to abandon the suburbs is a pipe dream.  IMO, a company like Case & Associates need to be convinced to come in and build an urban style complex in south downtown across from TCC or on the UCAT land.  They have the capital, credit and knowledge to build a multi-tenant building at a cost that students would snap up.  Kaiser has a great relationship with Mike Case, from what I hear, and I'm very surprised he hasn't persuaded him to do just that.
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carltonplace
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2012, 01:39:13 pm »

We could also enact Planit Tulsa and start following it's recommendations...wait, I just read that and I see how funny that sounds.
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2012, 06:45:28 pm »

This is a timely thread.  We have been working on a quote/unquote urban single family project in downtown for about a year now.  We were actually one of the 13 applicants for the 3rd penny downtown housing money (we were unsuccessful, obviously).  Despite that, we believe in the business model for precisely some of the reasons mentioned above, namely that the  market is understandable financially for this type of owner occupied urban housing.

We've designed contemporary "rowhouses/townhouses"; small footprint, multiple floors, rooftop terraces, urban, pushed to the street. The form provides the kind of single family urban housing seen in cities all over the country.  It is far denser than most single family housing, obviously, but building, selling and transfer of title is simple.  Just like any other single family home in the city. 

We hope to be under way this spring.  I want to reserve details on the project until we have progressed a little further, but below is an early rendering.  Our project location is on S. Third and Greenwood, adjacent to the proposed East Village urban park.  Our market research shows a ton of need and capacity for this type of housing, and we are already getting serious inquiries from people interested in the project.  We also feel good about helping to establish an ownership model for downtown housing.



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AquaMan
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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2012, 07:46:51 pm »

That is good news. I also like some homes I see in my area that would be great downtown. On 18th between Madison and Peoria on the north side are some smart looking brick flats that I think could be designed as multi level. They would offer a nice contrast to the more modern designs you show. Also at 21st place west of Main are some two story English looking row houses that would fit well downtown. The main problem with both of them are the prohibitive cost. It is important to not price these too high.
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jacobi
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2012, 08:12:30 pm »

Quote
Why not instead of teaching developers how to navigate the zoning issues/ordinances they would have to deal with, we just make them easier to deal with.

Isn't a reworking of the zoning code underway now?  I thought that it was suppsedly an 18 month project that was being directed by the new city planner.  Maybe I'm inventing that....

Quote
This would near pipe dream because you can make a lot of money doing single family development on relative flat land that is abundant in suburban communities that have less strict zoning and code enforcement.  Additionally, a piece of flat land can sit vacant and not be developed for years with very little issues. 

I knew when I typed this that it was far fetched.  I don't mean that the developer actually do the building themselves (like in a suburban developement).  They sell the lot and work with a contractor who builds the property.  It also would be interesting to see a comparrison of cost between buying a square block towards the core (maybe even outside the IDL) and the returns on selling cleared, ready to build property vs. buying huge amounts of acreage and subdividing.  I realize that they wouldn't be doing it if there wasn't quick money in it, but if nothing else it would be an interesting comparison.

Quote
This is a timely thread.  We have been working on a quote/unquote urban single family project in downtown for about a year now.  We were actually one of the 13 applicants for the 3rd penny downtown housing money (we were unsuccessful, obviously).  Despite that, we believe in the business model for precisely some of the reasons mentioned above, namely that the  market is understandable financially for this type of owner occupied urban housing.

Thanks for thinking it's timely.  When I saw the renderings I thought "Oh, the green arch project got scaled down."  But it's further south than that.  This is really exciting.  Best of luck.  Is this the project that the mayor mentioned in the press release about the TU/OU medical school?
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2012, 09:19:21 pm »

  Hope your development moves forward.  The rendering looks like its possible that there might be some semi-private rooftop patio space.  If so that would be a BIG selling point imo.  Bit of space to have some potted plants, place for the little ones to safely play, great place to entertain, etc.
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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2012, 11:30:03 pm »

We've designed contemporary "rowhouses/townhouses"; small footprint, multiple floors, rooftop terraces, urban, pushed to the street. The form provides the kind of single family urban housing seen in cities all over the country.  It is far denser than most single family housing, obviously, but building, selling and transfer of title is simple.  Just like any other single family home in the city. 

Not what I want for myself but it should be nice for those that do.  If it can be repeated enough, it could get the density up to the threshold of making a fixed rail trolley feasible.

A lot of housing near downtown Philadelphia PA was row houses.  Take a look at Google Maps and Street view.  Many are still nice or are being refurbed.  Some are not so nice anymore but that can happen anywhere.

http://www.philaplanning.org/pubinfo/rowhousemanual.pdf

 
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jacobi
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2012, 01:11:51 am »

So, what's with the non-descrip buildings in the background?  Just filler to make the design pop?
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2012, 10:29:56 am »

Another element that no one has mentioned is that even extremely sophisticated builders, seek the path of least resistance, because time is profit.  New development is always easier than re-development because of the community factor.

When you go out to south Jenks and subdivide a square mile of land into lots to sell, or even if you build your own homes and amenity package, the task is relatively easy and most members of the  neighboring communities are happy to see development in their area continue.

When you develop or redevelop anything in an existing urban setting, you are dealing with density, and with density comes the promise of more community input.  From the parking to the paint color, the developer faces the input and and opinions of the community.  This creates delays, and increases cost.  Working with the community is a responsible act for a developer, but you have to realize that the developer sees that as a wildcard variable that can be very difficult to quantify from a monitory standpoint.

This becomes especially important to developers with very large and sophisticated construction operations.  Like a gargantuan pet, they have to continuously feed their operation with new projects and a steady stream of uninterrupted construction or the organization falls apart.  A small group of unsatisfied neighbors, negotiating over architectural standards, parking, or even construction times, can have significant impact on the profitability of the project.  Therefore, most developers are more than happy to avoid as many unknowns as possible and build where they are uninhibited.

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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2012, 11:53:04 am »

When you go out to south Jenks and subdivide a square mile of land into lots to sell, or even if you build your own homes and amenity package, the task is relatively easy and most members of the  neighboring communities are happy to see development in their area continue.

Well, at least until they realize the traffic that results from putting 3000 houses in a square mile.
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rdj
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2012, 02:39:34 pm »

Well, at least until they realize the traffic that results from putting 3000 houses in a square mile.

Not to mention traffic, strain on water & sewer.  Maintaining suburban single family, low density residence sprawl is much more taxing on public infrastructure than dense buildings that go up and place the additional strain on the building owner.
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2012, 03:05:44 pm »

Not to mention traffic, strain on water & sewer.  Maintaining suburban single family, low density residence sprawl is much more taxing on public infrastructure than dense buildings that go up and place the additional strain on the building owner.

Water and sewer capacity to dense buildings will be necessarily larger than for more spread out stuff.  (Bigger pipes, larger capacity sewage treatment, larger capacity water treatment.)  There is some economy of scale but I don't buy that the requirements for New York City are less expensive than for Bixby.

I don't consider 4 to 5 houses per acre to be low density suburban development.  If there are more than one or two houses per acre, it's getting crowded.
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« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2012, 03:53:30 pm »

Water and sewer capacity to dense buildings will be necessarily larger than for more spread out stuff.  (Bigger pipes, larger capacity sewage treatment, larger capacity water treatment.)  There is some economy of scale but I don't buy that the requirements for New York City are less expensive than for Bixby.

I don't consider 4 to 5 houses per acre to be low density suburban development.  If there are more than one or two houses per acre, it's getting crowded.

I'm with you.  I like to live far enough away from my neighbor that they can't hear the screams!
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