Planned real estate developments spark public-private partnerships

28 March 2024

How the planned unit development (PUD) process for real estate development leads to public-private partnerships that deliver the best solutions for communities.

What is a planned unit development?

A planned development, or sometimes a planned unit development (PUD) is a special kind of zoning process indicated by a municipality designed to achieve community specific goals for housing, retail, and mixed-use development. These special districts typically create favorable zoning conditions which encourage private real estate developers to pursue certain types of projects.

For example, a municipality might adjust the zoning code in ways that improve the viability of a project for a private developer. These methods might include:

  • Allowing additional height or density in a real estate development.
  • Providing financial assistance through direct or tax-based incentives.
  • Reducing lengthy approval processes.

Simultaneously, these special districts will typically require the inclusion of community goal specific features which directly benefit the public or further certain policy goals. Examples of these inclusions include:

  • Affordable or workforce housing requirements.
  • Public parks or event spaces.
  • Sustainable features like EV charging or solar power.

How do planned development processes foster public-private partnerships?

Typically, these special districts foster increased cooperation between private developer and municipalities by better aligning goals for all parties. Not only does the give-a-little, get-a-little nature of the zoning laws support the goals of both parties, but the unique districts typically require additional public engagement opportunities where everything from the architectural design to the mix of unit types can be discussed.

Often, planned development districts include parcels of land which use to be home to manufacturing or industrial uses which have since moved further out of an established community. This type of real estate typically requires additional due diligence and remediation before it is suitable for redevelopment into new and applicable uses for the community. This is another example of how planned development can partner public interests with private expertise. Through direct financial support for land remediation or land swaps where public land is swapped with a developer, planned development districts benefit both the public and private parties.

As a developer with over 30 years of experience specializing in planned development processes, Focus has delivered many successful projects developed through strong public-private partnerships.

Take Kelmscott Park for example, a project on a piece of property which use to be the city’s municipal services location and required environmental remediation before the master planned community could be developed. With support from the city of Lake Forest, Focus developed a mixed-use community with three unique types of housing options, rental apartments, condominiums, and single-family homes. The unique, walkable location to Lake Forest’s downtown combined with the unique product offering made Kelmscott Park a huge success, leasing at a record pace and eventually selling for the highest price per unit in the Chicagoland suburbs at the time.

To learn more about planned development processes or to discuss a project of your own, please reach out today.

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