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A Tale of Two Sites

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Written by: Burt Marzley, AIA, LEED AP - Partner-Design Leader

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens starts out with these very striking opening lines describing two different situations: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness." The same quote could be used to describe how two sites were selected for future projects.

Site #1 
In the first case, the client came to our firm after purchasing a site. They thought they had negotiated a great deal. However, when we began to look at the piece of property, some problems began to reveal themselves. Issues started to be uncovered:

* Wetlands were discovered
* Protected bat species were encountered limiting the construction timeline
* The county's sewer line was not deep enough to connect to
* A stormwater collection basin was needed
* A significant amount of dirt need to be moved to create a place for the building 
* FAA requirements dictated the location of the building which increased construction costs
* Ground water was prevalent and had to be pumped off site

The unknown items added close to $1,000,000 to the project. Had the client known about these things before purchasing the site, they probably would have continued their property search.

Site #2 
In the second case, the client came to our firm seeking help to investigate several properties prior to purchasing. Many items were considered in the review of the potential building areas:

* Sewer availability
* Rain water collection regulations
* Proximity to the interstate
* Proximity to bus lines
* Safeness of the area
* History of the properties to determine the risk of environmental contamination
* Walkability of the neighborhood
* Number of parking spaces in the area
* Utility review including water, gas and available communications network
* Test fit of potential site plans and building layout
* Cost analysis (existing buildings vs. new)

Several of the sites that were the initial favorites turned out to be higher cost and financial risk. In this case, the lowest priced piece of property was not the best value for the client.

When contemplating a purchase of real estate, get some advice, do your research and ask for help. The best deal may turn out to be the most expensive in the long run. Be the client for which it was "the best of times..." and not "the worst of times..."

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