Multifamily Site Purchases

August 17, 2016

In several design projects, I have been asked to review properties for possible development for multifamily. The client is asking to verify the density as it is called for in the zoning ordinance or represented by the broker. This has become more complicated due to several factors. The zoning allows a certain density of course, but this is not cut and dry. There are many factors that go into my assessment of each property. Of course the density is allowed but only if other factors are met such as required parking. Given this issue alone, there could be strains on the unit count. Another is drainage requirements for on site retention. Still another is lot coverage and open space requirements. In other parts of the ordinance there are requirements such as landscape percentages of the site which must be met. The real culprit on purchasing property without a this system are site stipulations which are placed on the property over and above the zoning. These must be researched and taken into account. These are applied to sites during a past zoning change, for street visibility, height restrictions due to location or a myriad of other reasons not contained in the written ordinance. All of these and more are the reason why my design analysis for feasibility have a proven process which takes into account ALL of the requirements before we hang our hat on a zoning density chart or a colorful brochure from a brokerage firm. More often than not, the density may be reached but the factors that require this may result in a product the client had not intended to build or is not within his or her business plan. A full site study from an experienced architectural firm using a system containing ALL zoning and code requirements insures the client of a realistic answer to the question of "How many units can I get on this parcel?" Greg Zimmerman, President

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