Residential Development: GAI Speeds Service to Hot Housing Market

Housing market demand is soaring in Florida with recent reports placing Tampa, Jacksonville, and Orlando among the top-10 hottest U.S. housing markets for 2022.

We spoke with three GAI professionals about the current boom, and how GAI’s comprehensive engineering, planning, and environmental consulting services are helping developers deliver high-quality residential development projects to this hungry housing market quickly and efficiently.

Q: Please introduce yourselves and tell us a little about the roles that each of you play.

Anthony ReddeckTony Reddeck: I’m Tony Reddeck, and I’m a Land-Development Engineer. What that means is that I design and permit the infrastructure that supports residential multi-family projects. The best way to describe what I do is that I work to provide the infrastructure up to the front door.

Andrew SheppardAndrew Sheppard: Andrew Sheppard here. I am a Landscape Architect by education. When it comes to private residential development, much of my focus is on the up-front visioning and design of communities with the goal of creating livable communities at all different levels, scales, and development areas.

Andrew McCownAndrew McCown: I am Andrew McCown, and I am a Land Planner. I usually come into a project at the very beginning when a client has a prospective piece of property that may or may not be under contract and they are interested in knowing what they can do with it. At that point I get involved in performing due diligence and feasibility studies to figure out what processes will work to get the developer from where they are to where they want to be.

Q: Where are you seeing the greatest housing market demand right now?

Tony: There’s been significant growth in the multi- and single-family residential market in Florida over the last year or so—especially in Central Florida, Tampa, and Jacksonville area. It’s tremendous, with numbers of people moving into the region topping 800 a day. I haven’t seen it like this since 2006-2007 era—it’s just really, really busy, and definitely driving demand.

Q: What sort of concerns come with a residential development project, and how does GAI’s team approach help our clients meet these concerns?

Tony: Of course, a big concern in the current housing market is finding a good site at a good price. Beyond that, just about all properties seem to present challenges of one sort or another—sometimes several—that a client will need help dealing with. There are environmental challenges, transportation challenges, and infrastructure challenges—and these typically increase as you move further from an urban core, which oftentimes is the case as development moves into available outlying areas.

Andrew M.: Much of what I help clients get a handle on concerns entitlements, which are rules issued by a municipality that determine what can and cannot be done with a piece of property.

From my planning and entitlement side, development sites that are still available in the built-up urbanized or suburbanized areas may come with significant entitlement issues as well as challenges like environmental, wetland, and ownership issues. Those private residential development properties sited in rural areas, the very edges of urban or suburban areas, or other undeveloped areas—possibly not even annexed to a city—may have no entitlements and they may be far from utilities and access. So, the significant challenge for properties in those areas is the fact that you are starting from nothing—you really have to deliver the full complement of services from due diligence all the way up to utilities and roads.

Andrew S.: Many of the challenges that we help residential development clients deal with stem from the need for sustainability—like looking at hydrology concerns and how a development site can be proactively designed to tolerate climate change. Especially in view of how these issues can affect a piece of property in Florida, there are a lot of considerations for which we’re offering development clients support, answers, and solutions. We are very interested in linking our site master planning solutions with our civil engineering and environmental strategies, including our approach to stormwater management.

Q: How do we approach the single-family residential housing market?

Andrew S.: Well, regardless of a particular housing market price point—be it for starter homes, custom homes, or luxury homes—all share the fact that we are creating a place where people are going to live. So, in each of these different areas, it is important to focus on creating a community. It’s not just about calling it a subdivision and planning something without thinking through the fact that people have to get around, have to exercise, have to have recreation options, and have to have comfortable, solid homes. It’s about planning for an all-around high quality of life. It takes a careful, thoughtful, holistic approach toward the way we envision, design, and build a community. And if we are able to do that successfully, we are creating a good quality of life, a sense of place, and a feeling of neighborhood for residents regardless of a given project’s scale or price point.

Q:  Is timeframe a major consideration for our clients?

Tony: Absolutely. Everything that we’re discussing here adds up to the biggest challenge of all: the need to accelerate the overall project timeframe to meet the housing market. I mentioned the number of people moving to Jacksonville and Central Florida earlier, and that is really driving residential development demand. Schedule is important, and we’re working to get sites permitted, moving, and completed as fast as possible.

Andrew M.: Developers are seriously attuned to market fluctuations. When the housing market is up, everyone wants to build, and they want to beat the next downturn. And I think that right now—and it’s been this way for a couple of years—developers are focused on meeting the current housing market demand before circumstances change.

Tony: Andrew nails it: The quicker we get a project conceptualized, entitled, designed, permitted, and built, the more we help reduce the developer’s risk. That’s one big reason why it’s so advantageous for a developer to use somebody like GAI because the services that developers need to address the concerns that we discussed earlier are available under one roof.

Q: How is GAI’s comprehensive service helping residential development clients meet their aggressive timeframe?

Tony: At GAI we provide one point of contact that deals directly with the client, which then coordinates internally with all the necessary services and disciplines we offer that are involved with the project. So, from a developer’s perspective it simplifies things and makes it far easier to meet deadlines.

GAI’s Community Solutions Group (CSG), our planners, is a great asset to have on the front end when it comes to entitlements, concepts, or drawings. We offer survey service on projects to help with doing boundary, topographic surveys, platting. Our environmental services are here to identify wetlands and perform threatened and endangered species surveys. Our transportation engineers are here to meet any access needs. Then there are GAI’s civil engineers to facilitate meeting the identified utility needs successfully.

Andrew M.: It’s a matter of collaboration and coordination. It’s the difference between having a group of different consultants working on a project and actually having a comprehensive consulting team. And I consider Tony, Andrew Sheppard, and myself—along with many others at GAI—to be a team that has built great depth of experience working together on significant residential development projects in a demanding housing market for several years now. We know what to expect of the other people on our team, and we can capitalize on our knowledge of each other and our individual areas of expertise. This team concept is an excellent value that we can offer to our clients in terms of cohesion, quality, and quicker time to market.

Andrew S.: We work smarter, faster, and better because we easily engage each other to figure out how a project works on the community side, how the infrastructure works, how the stormwater solutions work, how the roadways work—how all these different components interact. And we are able to build that interaction into our residential development plans from the very beginning, which saves time, saves energy, saves re-dos, and saves money.

Tony: It makes everything far more efficient to be able to walk down the hall or connect with a colleague online and have a discussion with whomever can help make a given aspect of a project happen. Having all the services that GAI offers under one roof advances the goal of getting residential development projects over the finish line to meet an eager housing market.

Contact Tony Reddeck, 321.319.3168, Andrew Sheppard, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP, 321.319.3064, or Andrew McCown, AICP, 321.319.3069, and find out more about how GAI’s comprehensive, origin-to-opening services can help meet your residential development goals— message GAI online and start the conversation about how our multidiscipline professionals can meet your unique project needs.

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