Creating the Perfect Development Team
More context is needed in these blogs before I jump into a topic I’m passionate about. Bennett Realty & Development does a lot of development work as principals and although my past experiences have been the hard-core salesman, I have learned that development requires so much more. Being a great salesperson can lead to much success but what happens when your business requires that and more? Being a good salesperson will only take you so far towards being a successful developer. In fact, many developers can “over-sell” and hurt their prospect of securing a site or a tenant. As the developer, you are the person with the vision of what can be accomplished, how to go about it, and who to hire for each phase of the operation. Without a developer, the project can fall apart at any stage. It’s like having a major league sporting team with no general manager or an army platoon with no general. One of the most important aspects of success as a developer is building the right team. Development deals require a large team of specialists – experts in their respective fields. Knowing exactly which of these experts you need from the following list could make the difference between success and failure.
• Architect – turns the vision behind the project into a detailed blueprint from which the general contractor and builders can work.
• Engineer – working with the architects, they create the process by which the project can come to life.
• Environmental Consultant – assesses any environmental impact the construction, the presence of the completed building, or property usage might have.
• General Contractor – using the work of the architects and engineers, they oversee acquiring the proper builders and the day-to-day work on the project.
• Land Use Attorney – investigates laws and zoning to prevent expedition of a project that zoning or law will not allow. And perhaps more importantly is a commonly-seen face to boards if they are active within the town. These are the “relationship” people.
• Lender – Often, large commercial real estate ventures require more operating capital than the investors have. Lenders provide this additional funding and sometimes exert some level of oversight to ensure proper usage of the borrowed funds.
• Project Manager – maintains the plans, scheduling, and budget for the property. They work with most of the upper echelon of the team, making sure they have everything to complete the work on time, within budget, and at a high quality. They are also responsible for reporting the progress of the work to any stakeholders.
• Surveyor – hired to show the exact boundaries, access, and any easements that the city, county, or state may have in place. They will then stake and/or flag the corners of the property.
• Title Agent – makes sure the land is free and clear of any claims or liens against it.
• Traffic Engineer – determines whether a property is viable for the intended usage, and then plans access to the property based on the existing roads.
• Planner—while not always needed in a site plan application, planners can be the “cherry on the top” in testimony to boards to explain the practical effects of a potential new development. In some cases, towns & cities have their own third-party planners to provide insight into the overall character of the project and how it fits into the towns’ master plan or vision.
The success depends on you, the developer, choosing the right people for the jobs!