Developers Surf Waves
“Society is a wave. The wave moves onward, but the water of which it is composed does not.” Emerson
Nima* (disguised name) met us at the hotel for lunch to show me some pictures of a real estate site she loved. Talking rapidly, she mapped out all the great site attributes, such as great access to transit, parks, and the waterfront. I saw a lot of potential but I asked her "Whose life are you making better by creating this project?" She wasn't sure specifically. She just knew generally from her market research, this location would be a growth area and the perfect place to live, work, and play.
Often overlooked in the site selection process is the reality that developers are ultimately a service provider. It is tempting to identify an under used location and imagine using your talents and tenacity to bring your personal architectural vision to life. The huge risk you take when focusing mainly on site location and building design, is you can misjudge community needs. If the location becomes problematic, your project ends and you must start all over.
When Sandra adopted the mindset of being a developer who is a responsible service provider, suddenly she was researching communities more than lot sizes. Talking to small businesses and commuters, instead of relying only on market data. The needs of society are not static. They build up over time like a wave and breakthrough towards a path of least resistance. A path where needs are readily met.
Existing amenities like parks and recreation spaces are generally valuable but the safety of those spaces can determine weighting of that value for young families. Small business generally values transit and foot traffic. However, different sectors may highly value other attributes like access to fresh produce or proximity to highly skilled employees.
Making a deep connection with specific parts of society whose needs are not being met will give you a framework to pursue multiple opportunities simultaneously. You avoid narrowing your focus to one location, when you are actually surrounded by a sea of opportunities.
Andrew Garrett, Founder