The Planned Development Process

24 February 2021
City Hall Planned Development Process

Real estate development is a vital but complicated process. Development allows for cities and towns to grow and adjust for changing populations, community needs and shifts in regulations and technology. In many cases, municipalities manage real estate development, particularly development outside the current zoning through the planned development process.

What is a Planned Development?

A Planned Development (PD), sometimes referred to as a Planned Unit Development (PUD) is a regulatory process which promotes holistic real estate development by segmenting potential development by land use or dwelling types, by clustering uses i.e. residential v. public use and strengthening the collaboration required between developers and municipalities. The goal of this type of regulation is to promote unified planning, sound economics and to protect the interests of all community members.

Like any municipal process, the PD process varies from city to city and requirements are different based on the type of real estate project being pursued. Often, the application process is segmented into two parts, the first involves an examination of current zoning versus what is being proposed and the second is an in-depth review of the proposed building including design, materials, impacts, etc.

The key to a successful planned development application

The barrier of entry, for most commercial real estate development in planned districts, is high. The majority of PD Applications require materials on everything from site plans, unit floorplans, and landscaping details, to environmental impact reports, market viability findings and traffic studies. Meaning that before a project can even be considered for approval by a municipality, developers must invest a lot of time and treasure.

In addition to the developers and architects submitting a PD Application there may be dozens of other consultants working behind the scenes to meet the municipal requirements. Engineers, market researchers, environmental scientists and more all play a crucial role in pushing a new real estate development forward.

For these reasons, experience, communication and dedication to a vision, are the keys to success when it comes to Planned Developments. The varied nature of requirements from place to place and project to project mean that developers who have been successful in one city, may know nothing about the process in the town next door. By approaching the process with a strong concept and a dedication to collaboration, private developers can honor the intention of the regulations – to promote comprehensive growth and sustainable practices in real estate.

Planned Development Public Meeting

Focus and planned development success

It is through this lens that Focus has produced a strong track record for planned developments in multiple municipalities.

One example, with relevance in today’s pandemic impacted market is the planned development at 1717 Ridge. After the original developer lost control of the site due to the impacts of the 2008 recession, the project went into receivership. With the foundation for the second planned building dug but not yet under construction, the site was an eye soar for neighbors and presented real challenges for the condo owners who had purchased as part of the first phase of development.

After being approached by the bank, Focus took over the project and in order to move forward had to balance the needs of the city, neighbors and homeowners in a new planned development application. The new plan replaced condos with apartments, addressed the previously unmet accessibility requirements while delivering a fully realized community.

Focus worked through the complicated planned development amendment process, which included a change in zoning, by listening to the concerns of the community and establishing a set of shared goals. From there, a dedicated team pushed the project along, received approval on the amended application and eventually delivered a completed community which built value for all stakeholders.

The success at 1717 Ridge is just one example of Focus’ experience with planned developments. As all communities establish their own rules and regulations, planned development processes vary from one municipality to the next, with endless variety.

Focus’ long experience in Chicagoland and the dedication of its team members, even in complicated situations has led to a long track record of success in planned developments. To learn more about our experience with planned developments or to talk about your planned development application – reach out today.

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