The Missing Link
Somewhere in the midst of the evolution of community and economic development planning, the importance of real estate dynamics has been lost – left to the private domain of brokers, realtors, lenders, and developers. The lack of understanding of market conditions, opportunities – and more importantly, constraints, has hamstrung communities from realizing their full economic growth potential. How is it possible to capitalize on economic opportunities if the right space doesn’t exist to accommodate those businesses? The need for market focus and understanding has become even more critical in the rapidly changing post-COVID environment.
Market analysis is both art and science – relying on comprehensive data analysis and nuanced insights gleaned from a wide breadth of players on the real estate field. It answers fundamental questions: what will private developers actually be willing to build in our community? How much could realistically be built and over how long? And – why isn’t it happening yet? If your community is curiously pondering why developers flock to neighboring communities with millions of investment, a good market study will answer that question by dissecting the development process, regulatory environment, political landscape, infrastructure capacity, competitive advantages (and disadvantages), among others.
Turning Information into Action
While the market analysis illuminates the opportunities and constraints to development, the development strategy is an actionable plan to overcome those constraints and realize those opportunities. It addresses how to handle challenging properties (and property owners), streamline burdensome processes, modify (often dated) land use regulations, solicit developer and investor interest, engage in public-private partnerships, get community buy-in and align development with the community’s vision, and evaluate incentives. Strategies often incorporate site-specific project concepts that can be pitched to property owners and used to solicit developer proposals through an RFP process (more on that here).
Here are a few examples of communities that have recognized the importance of preparing market studies and development strategies to catalyze economic growth.
Main Street Market Analysis for the Village of Ardsley, NY: The Village of Ardsley in Westchester County is known as an attractive bedroom community for New York City and other commuting professionals and their families; however, its downtown commercial areas have struggled and the village was lacking a vision and plan for economic development and revitalizing properties in the downtown business district.
Camoin 310 worked with the Village to prepare a market analysis and development strategy to identify economic and development opportunities, as well as the constraints and barriers that have been prevented those opportunities for being realized in the community. Based on the outcome of the analysis, the Village is going to focus on four key market segments: age 55+ market rate housing, health care services, sports and fitness, and dining and entertainment. To help shape the vision and generate momentum, we helped prepare conceptual site designs for three strategic properties that were used to create marketing brochures to attract private investment.
Bel Air Downtown Alliance, Town of Bel Air, MD: Located in the outer-ring suburbs of Baltimore, the Town is known for its quality of life and schools. Looking to enhance its downtown and commercial areas, the Town sought a study that would identify market trends, opportunities, and constraints. Camoin 310 conducted a detailed market data analysis to identify trends and projections about the future balance of supply and demand in the retail, entertainment, office, and residential market.
The results informed strategic recommendations to capitalize on market opportunities and mitigate identified constraints. For example, one of the key opportunities that emerged from the study was the opportunity to transform downtown into a vibrant shopping and entertainment district. The recommendations also included strategies for attracting developers to key sites, zoning and land use policy changes, marketing strategies, and others. As part of the process, Camoin created a marketing brochure to help attract new retail businesses and to gain support for the study’s recommendations by presenting a future vision. Since the completion of the plan, several developments have occurred in the town, including new market rate housing projects.
Redevelopment Strategy for the Mystic Ed Center, Town of Groton, CT: The Mystic Education Center sits on approximately 77 acres significant building assets. The property originally housed the Whipple School for the Deaf from 1872 to 1980 when it discontinued usage. While the State maintained the buildings and site, it didn’t commit resources to redeveloping the site. After nearly 40-years of sitting underutilized, the Town stepped in and retained Camoin 310 and the engineering firm Horsley Witten to support the preparation of a redevelopment strategy for the site. The work included a market analysis, site assessment, financial feasibility modeling, community engagement, developer RFP writing, and marketing strategy development and implementation.
It worked. The pre-development work completed by the Town and its partners attracted the attention of the development community. The Town is currently in negotiations with a developer who has proposed a mixed-use village-style residential development for the site.
Whether you are debating the purchase of a property, or don’t fully understand why your commercial corridor seems to be attracting less private investment than adjacent communities, a market analysis can help answer those questions. To learn more about market analysis for your community, please contact Dan Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 518-899-2609.