Getting Housing Developments Off the Ground

3 Challenges Facing Development in the Valley

Phoenix, like many cities across the country, needs more housing overall. Well-designed, quality multifamily development can help alleviate stress on the residential market and provide new housing at all levels: affordable and market rate, as well as specialized housing like senior communities. But even amid a housing crisis in the Valley, it can be difficult to get multifamily properties developed.

People in construction hats using shovels at a groundbreaking ceremony for a new housing development.

Bringing together the community, local government agencies, and funding to greenlight these projects is no small task. When the long road to groundbreaking keeps housing development from becoming real, the local population misses out on critical expansion of housing availability. Keep reading for three areas where we see slowdowns in multifamily community development, and proactive tactics for keeping things moving forward.

Finding (and securing) the right site for housing development

Between unusual market conditions and the logistics of integrating a development with the surrounding area, selecting and getting control of a site can be a challenge. Once you do, there are feasibility studies, research, analysis, and review. Without the right support, this planning stage can begin to drag.

Look ahead and don’t miss the details:

  • Familiarize yourself with zoning restrictions, infrastructure, established businesses and neighbors, and the flow of people and cars in the area.
  • Start early with thorough environment and site analysis like solar, shade, and wind.

Getting the community on board

Aversion to change. Misunderstanding of what affordable housing means for surrounding neighborhoods. Opposition to higher-density housing. These are just a few reasons for pushback against new developments. Engaging the community and knowing your way around the local municipalities are key to making it through the entitlements process to groundbreaking.

Build relationships to garner support instead of skepticism:

  • Do your homework on the local community and future tenants. Specifically: who are they, what do they need and want?
  • Outreach, outreach, outreach. Make people aware of coming changes and offer multiple ways to give feedback.
  • Get to know your local offices: busy times, typical turnaround for permits and approvals, and the right points of contact to keep things moving.
The DPS Multifamily Community studio holding a design meeting for a housing development.

The cost of doing business

Building costs, the price of materials, and correct sequencing of construction is enough to make anyone’s head spin. Seeing the big picture can open new options for efficient, high value properties and lead to return on investment. Additionally, realistic design and construction timelines and open lines of communication between all parties go a long way to mitigating the unexpected, and keeping costs from creeping up.

Think big to save big:

  • Let sustainability pave the way for long-term savings, greater community interest, and higher market value.
  • Invest in building performance analysis and energy modeling, for efficient, high value properties.
  • Find incentives (i.e. affordable housing grants or green building tax credits) to increase ROI.

Meeting the immediate need for more housing in the Valley takes forethought, persistence, and the right partners. With deep multifamily experience and projects around the country, we have seen it all—and we'll help you get through the hoops to get your development moving.

We opened our Phoenix office in 2014, and our team has grown steadily ever since. Our work in the area means we know our way around the local market, agencies, and development landscape. In addition to design services, we support you through the entire process with site analysis, modeling, masterplanning, grant and tax incentive support, post-occupancy evaluation, and more.

Hannah Feil Greenhood

Studio Leader / Principal, Multifamily Communities

Hannah Feil Greenhood is a WELL Accredited Professional, a Fitwel Ambassador, and a LEED Accredited Professional, as well as a registered architect who specializes in integrating health and wellness design strategies for multifamily housing, mixed-use development, and senior living communities.

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