Site search and selection are major elements in creating a supportive housing project in which new units of housing are being developed. In most cases, a site must be identified and site control secured in order for the project to seek permanent financing and build community support. The site selection process is most successful when it is a methodical search for a site that best meets the established criteria, including size, location, proximity to services and price. These considerations will help to ensure the project will fulfill the needs of the future tenants.
When selecting a supportive housing site, there are six primary components to consider:
Establishing Site Selection Criteria
Scale — The size and scale of the proposed project should be based on the needs of the target tenant population, organizational capacity and appropriate fit with the identified neighborhood.
Housing Type and Construction — The type of housing to be built, whether scattered-site, one and two-family houses, or larger multi-unit buildings, has a significant impact on the site selection process. The construction approach – new construction versus rehabilitation – also will help guide the site search.
Location — As with all real estate decisions, the location of the site is critical. Factors such as access to transportation, employment opportunities, neighborhood amenities, community-based resources and services, day care, public schools and family resources, and security all should be evaluated.
Acquisition or Lease Costs — The cost of acquiring or leasing a development site may be the overriding consideration for selecting a property. Many public funding programs have a maximum acquisition or lease cost (total or per unit caps) that must be considered during the site search.
Zoning Considerations — Zoning also must be carefully considered in selecting a site. If a zoning variance is required, this can add significant challenges and delays to the development process.
Community Acceptance — The potential for community support or opposition to a proposed development should be considered as the site search is being conducted.
Engaging in the Site Search
There are several different strategies for engaging in the site search process, including:
Exploring Diverse Potential Sources of Sites such as privately owned sites that are “on-the-market” or available for lease, HUD and FHA-foreclosed property, bank foreclosures, publicly owned property taken for tax arrears, and religious properties.
Using a Real Estate Broker to help with your site search, given his or her knowledge about residential real estate, including the multifamily housing development market.
Conducting a Site Search Independently without a real estate broker by conducting a “windshield survey” of the target neighborhood(s), researching property ownership and sales history of identified sites, and contacting the owners to determine their intentions for the property.
For more detailed information on the site search and selection process, please download Site Selection Criteria and Site Search Strategies.
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