Land use and development in the real estate industry are highly influenced by local factors and dynamics. Unlike other sectors, such as technology or finance, real estate is a business that requires a deep understanding of local regulations, politics, and community development. Chester Allen, executive vice president at CBRE|Raleigh, emphasizes the importance of local knowledge and relationships in successfully navigating the industry.
In land services, where Allen’s expertise lies, the process of entitling sites for commercial, industrial, and residential development involves working closely with municipal and county governments. It is a complex and time-consuming endeavor that requires collaboration with various professionals, including attorneys, engineers, and economic development experts. As Allen puts it, “All the dominoes have got to fall into place.”
The uniqueness of local real estate development also stems from the changing nature of politics and leadership. With new leaders entering the scene, priorities and preferences can shift, leading to different ideas about development. A recent example is the city of Durham, where the election of a new mayor and council has brought a focus on “missing middle” housing like duplexes and townhomes. However, challenges can arise when the desires of elected officials clash with those of non-elected government employees.
In the Triangle region of North Carolina, population and business growth have resulted in a scarcity of available land in urban areas. This has led to the expansion of development activities into suburban neighborhoods and rural counties. Johnston County, for instance, has experienced significant growth, while interest in Franklin County is starting to emerge. These shifts highlight the need for strategic planning and investment in utilities, land use, and zoning.
Local investments in water and wastewater capacity have played a crucial role in driving growth in some areas, like Johnston County. Conversely, the absence of such investments has hindered development in certain “halo” counties surrounding the Triangle. Orange County, for example, struggled with limited development until voters approved a sales-tax provision in 2011, allowing the county to create economic development districts and invest in infrastructure. This shift led to the arrival of companies like Morinaga & Co. and Thermo Fisher Scientific.
While demand for real estate in the Triangle remains high, the scarcity of available land close to major metros in Wake, Durham, and Orange counties has forced developers to look further out. However, improvements in highway infrastructure have made once remote communities more accessible. The proximity of these communities, such as Sanford, Wendell, and Zebulon, makes them attractive options for development.
In conclusion, the uniqueness of local real estate development lies in its intricate relationship with the community, politics, and infrastructure. Successful development requires a deep understanding of local dynamics and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. By carefully navigating these complexities, developers can unlock the potential of different areas and contribute to the overall growth and prosperity of the region.
Q: How important is local knowledge in real estate development?
A: Local knowledge is crucial in real estate development as it involves understanding local regulations, politics, and community dynamics.
Q: What challenges can arise when elected officials and government employees have different preferences?
A: When elected officials and government employees have different preferences, it can create challenges in aligning development plans and priorities.
Q: Why is there a scarcity of available land in urban areas of the Triangle region?
A: Population and business growth in the Triangle region have resulted in a scarcity of available land in urban areas, pushing development further into suburban and rural locations.
Q: How have local investments in utilities impacted development in certain areas?
A: Local investments in utilities, such as water and wastewater capacity, have driven growth in some areas, while the absence of such investments has limited development in others.
Q: What factors have influenced the expansion of development into once remote communities?
A: Improvements in highway infrastructure have made once remote communities more accessible, leading to increased interest and development activities in those areas.