Selecting a site is a key step in the early stages of your construction project. The site you choose will determine will have large impacts on size, cost, and many other aspects of your building and overall project. If you are an investor looking to build a spec building, site selection is even more important due to the need to attract tenants for your building.
To better understand the process of site selection, we sat down with Jesse Pruitt, principal of Somervell Commercial Realty, to get his expert advice. Mr. Pruitt has been partnered with Bob Moore Construction on projects such as Signazon.com, GM Financial, Trinity 161 Distribution Center, Cigna, and most recently McKinney Airport Center.
What is the most important information you need to know from the client in order to start the site selection process?
The first thing we need to look at is your credit and ability to receive financing for the land. You will want to be able to receive financing for the construction aspect as well, however, depending on the client’s particular business model and approach this may be separate from land financing.
What features do you look for when choosing a site to show a client?
TOPO, Price, and Zoning are the primary factors when considering which parcels of land to show a client.
With Topography, or TOPO, you are looking at things like elevation, slope, aspect, landform, soil, and similar aspects. These are not only indicators of the quality of the site in general, but what will be necessary for engineering, architecture, and construction aspects that may drive the construction price up later on.
Price is obvious in that we always want to stay within the client’s budget.
Zoning is a key aspect because we generally want to select a site that is already zoned appropriately for the type of building the client needs. Depending on the local government procedures, changing a land parcel’s zone from Residential to Commercial or Industrial can be a difficult and painstaking process. In addition, you’re not guaranteed that the local government will approve the zoning change request.
What are some common difficulties when selecting a site?
Zoning is one of the most common difficulties for the reasons I stated above. We do everything we can to try to select a site that is already zoned the way we need it to be.
How easy or difficult is it to find land for building sites given the current DFW market?
It is very difficult to find land for large sites (20+ acres) in DFW proper. On the rate occasion that you do happen to find commercial/industrial zoned land over 20 acres, the price is astronomically high. The difficulty finding large sites is forcing clients outside of DFW proper to the outskirts or to other areas in North Texas like Burleson, Mansfield, McKinney, Ennis, Midlothian, Sanger, and many other places.
What trends have you seen in the last couple of years that you expect to continue?
The large influx of companies both moving to North Texas and expanding their operations to North Texas has been driving larger buildings and larger project sites. With everyone expecting this flight to North Texas to continue, I would fully expect this trend of large sites to continue.
We would like to thank Jesse Pruitt and Somervell Commercial Realty for his valuable insights into site selection.