Skip to main content

Site development

The development of the Ford site: high-end houses have a place and a role

By Site development

Some St. Paul residents, grieved by the affordable housing shortage, have expressed concern over plans by site developer Ford to allocate sites along the cliffs of the Mississippi River for upscale single-family residences (“planners of St. Paul Reject Single Family Homes in Project Ford, ”March 9,“ Ryan’s Plan for Ford Site Moves 6 to 1 by St. Paul Council, ”April 11).

But 10 percent of the 3,800 housing units offered for the Ford site must be reserved for households at 80 percent or less of the region’s median income, with 10 percent for households at 30 percent or less of the median income in the area. the region. The city had approved a tax increase financial grant to include low-cost housing in the overall plan.

But there is another aspect of the bluff site plans that aligns with both the developer’s financial outlook as well as the city’s tax agenda. In any given year, Saint Paul’s property tax collections represent approximately 35 percent of the city’s general revenue. Much of the city’s real estate is owned by the state or by non-profit organizations (colleges, churches, etc.). These properties do not pay property taxes but still require services. The city’s other income comes from royalties, fines, sales, etc., but the share of property tax in the city’s budget is under constant pressure.

Minneapolis receives about 41 percent of the property taxes paid by residential and commercial-industrial property in the city. The rest goes to the county, school district, and special districts (e.g., metropolitan council, mosquito control district, etc.).

Because Minnesota law limits how cities can generate income, they must plan for and protect certain land uses that generate more tax revenue than costs to provide municipal services to affected properties. The difference is used to subsidize neighborhoods that require more services than they can afford.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are unusual among industrial cities in 19th-century Northeastern America for their relative abundance of desirable residential neighborhoods within city limits. These neighborhoods have attracted and retained middle and upper-middle class households who have sufficient financial means to settle in the suburbs if they so wish. This has happened regularly in most cities in the North East, which face serious fiscal headaches.

In addition, cities like St. Paul and Minneapolis that have supported and preserved prosperous neighborhoods have simultaneously retained commercial and office activities that serve those neighborhoods. When purchasing power goes away, neighboring businesses fall back or move.

In Minneapolis, there are hundreds of upscale homes in the city’s Chain of Lakes neighborhood, along Minnehaha Parkway, near Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha, and along West River Road, homes that have been well maintained and reinvested over the years to make them even more attractive today than they were a century ago, with market values ​​to match. The same is true in St. Paul, along East River Road, Summit Avenue, Crocus Hill and Linwood, Merriam Park, some of Ramsey Hill, Mac-Groveland and Highland Park.

Between 2010 and 2017, the population of Minneapolis increased by 10% and that of Saint-Paul by almost 8%. These cities must be doing something right.

I live in southwest Minneapolis, south of Lake Harriet. Near my house is a block bounded on the west by Thomas Avenue, on the north by W. Lake Harriet Parkway, on the east by Sheridan Avenue, and on the south by W. 49th St. This block contains 27 single family homes with a combined current assessed value (market) of $ 26,763,500 and total taxes due in 2019 of $ 442,463, or an average of $ 16,875 per home.

In contrast, a somewhat typical block in a low-income residential neighborhood in northern Minneapolis, bounded by Logan Avenue, 16th Avenue N., Morgan Avenue N., and 15th Avenue N. contains 15 homes. A house, owned by the Minneapolis Housing Authority, is exempt from property tax. The 14 homes for which the appraiser’s market value and tax liability data are available have a combined value of $ 1,875,600 and property taxes due in 2019 of $ 28,265, or $ 2,019 per home.

Most of my neighbors can afford to move elsewhere if they wish. But they stay where they are and continue to pay high taxes. The rest of the city benefits.

Bottom Line: A few high end homes along the river cliff at the west end of the Ford site would likely yield a positive bottom line for the town of St. Paul.

John S. Adams is Professor Emeritus of Geography, Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Next steps in the development of the Expo site: signing the contract, speeding up the entry process

By Site development

The next big steps for the team that was selected last week by the University of Massachusetts to lead the redevelopment of the former Bayside Expo grounds on Columbia Point in Dorchester: Negotiate and sign a final lease and expedite a “Strong stakeholder and community contribution process” to showcase future uses of the highly valued waterfront property.

The UMass board of directors and the UMass Building Authority voted unanimously last Thursday to approve the recommendation of an Accordia Partners research team, led by Boston real estate executives and financiers, Richard Galvin and Kirk Sykes, as the developer of a deal that could bring the university up to $ 235 million over time, according to people familiar with the financial data.

The nomination came after an 18-month bidding process that reduced the number of interested developers to a pool of six and then two finalists.

Sources familiar with the process say the Galvin-Sykes deal was chosen because it offered the strongest financial plan to pay for a 99-year land lease. The group also brings to the table a diverse group of investors and includes the option for UMass Boston to elect to lease a portion of the 20-acre site for its own future use. Their initial offering also includes $ 25 million in “infrastructure commitments,” which the development team says is a first step towards creating a public-private money pool to target various congestion points and transit centers near the point.

There is not yet a concrete redevelopment plan in place at this point in the process. The Galvin-Sykes team will lead community engagement in a planning process that will likely begin this year. Officials who briefed the reporter on the contents of their winning proposal last week said it would include a mix of uses, including housing, office or labs, retail and dining options, and the possibility for UMass to use part of the site.

UMass acquired the former Bayside Expo Center in 2010 for $ 18.7 million after its former owners confiscated the site in a foreclosure during the 2008-09 recession. Since then, the university has mainly used the waterfront land for parking at its Dorchester campus. The property was briefly included in Boston’s 2024 failed bid to bring the Summer Olympics to the city. When that offer was dropped, Robert Kraft’s sports group entered closed-door talks with UMass to lease the site and build a professional football stadium at the site. This plan was scuttled amid the negative reluctance of elected officials and scorers.

The first indications of the main lines of this new agreement with the partners of Galvin-Sykes are that UMass will make much more money in this transaction, while reserving the right to use part of the Bayside plot for its own. future use.

Galvin is the founder, CEO and president of CV Properties, LLC, which has “developed and acquired over 4.5 million square feet of office and residential projects valued at $ 2.5 billion,” according to the website of his company. Recent projects in Boston include the D Street hotels next to the Massachusetts Convention and Exhibition Center in South Boston; and 451 D Street, a nine-story office building in South Boston.

Sykes is senior vice president of New Boston Real Estate Investment Funds. Former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, he is chairman of Urban Strategy American Fund, LP, specializing in “the creation of mixed-use urban developments.”

State Senator Nick Collins, who had urged UMass officials to seek a wide range of proposals from the wider development community in 2017, said last week that he was pleased with the new direction and developer choice.

“Today marks the next step in a process that the community, elected officials and officials of UMass have worked hard to initiate,” said Collins. “The open bidding process for Bayside has resulted in great teams competing for a chance to partner with UMass to create something special on Dorchester Bay. “

Robert Griffin, co-head of US capital markets for Newmark Knight Frank, the commercial real estate company hired by the UMass Building Authority to find a suitable private partner for Bayside, said there was a strong appeal for the site.

“We had a lot of people interested,” he told The Reporter. “Most markets saw this as some sort of next type of seaport, given the proximity to the Red Line, eight minutes from Kendall Square, a market with no vacancies right now in laboratories and offices in Cambridge – and Longwood Medical Center. region, same thing.

Griffin added, “At the end of the day we had six very serious contenders and we brought it down to two. Most people were focusing on something that would bring credit to the neighborhood, to the school, to the community, hoping to have a plan that would attract the kind of talent that would provide jobs to the area. Jobs for students at UMass, internships and maybe something that would synergize with the programs there, be it the wonderful nursing school they have or something in the life sciences, because there are so many of these kinds of requirements right now. “

Some ‘head office’ type companies have been reviewing the site, Griffin said, many with lab and tech space in mind, but Bayside’s mixed use potential has peaked.

Michael Byrne, executive general manager of Newmark’s Knight Frank office in Boston, said the UMass Boston campus is a priority for soliciting community feedback.

“In the third round, we actually had the chancellor [Katherine] Newman provides his vision as a sort of mission statement for developers to help guide their work and refine their pricing, ”he said. “So throughout the process, the needs of the campus were brought to the fore and the ability to relate to them.”

UMass spokesman Jeff Cournoyer said that “the process of visualizing exactly what the mix will be” on the site is yet to come. “

The advisory group, led by UMass Building Authority chairman Victor Woolridge, a seasoned real estate executive, worked with Newmark to select the developer. In doing so, they looped through every local elected official and met with both the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association and the John W. McCormack Civic Association throughout the process, Cournoyer said. Columbia Point’s existing master plan was also considered in the selection.
“It will really be up to the developer to work through a complete and robust community process from a design perspective,” Byrne said. “From a campus engagement perspective, we can definitely talk about campus rights in the future…. Simply put, the campus will retain as many rights as possible over future opportunities to develop on its own – for housing or for other academic needs in the future.

Details were slim last week, but the team said the terms were for a 99-year ground lease for the Bayside site. on campus and at university from a financial standpoint, ”Cournoyer said. “There were other elements taken into consideration, of course: the feasibility of making this project happen, the commitment to this stakeholder process and the community contribution process that we discussed, the diversity and hiring practices and vendors and suppliers, etc. “

Infrastructure commitments also played an important role. The winning group “went out of their way to make a specific infrastructure commitment,” he said. “We all know it takes real money spending to help solve some of these connectivity issues between the hotline and campus, whether it’s a new gateway or rather and [Kosziusko] Circle too.

City Councilor Frank Baker, whose district includes the Columbia Point campus, was thrilled by the news. “This could potentially unblock the transportation issues we’ve had for years, while also putting UMass on a solid financial footing to plan for the future of the campus,” he told The Reporter. “For me that’s one of the big things. The campus will be great, we will be able to walk there, our children will have access to vocational training and internships, but transportation is important.

Also heard on campus last week: Voices were raised against the Bayside deal.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Staff Faculty Union at UMass Boston expressed disapproval, citing concerns about the rise in parking fees and last year’s UMass Amherst maneuver to buy Mount Ida College in Newton. , which many on the Boston campus see as undermining the Dorchester campus.

“The Mount Ida deal was done behind closed doors, and we see a similar lack of transparency with the plans for the Bayside lot,” said Marlene Kim, president of the Staff Faculty Union. “Students, staff and faculty have had no influence on major decisions affecting our campus. “

It is still unclear exactly what type of public review process will accompany the redevelopment project. Since the university owns the site, it will likely remain exempt from the typical large-project review run by the city’s Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA).

In an interview with The Reporter last year, BPDA director Brian Golden expressed confidence that UMass and its development partner will include the city in their efforts to plan what he called a “mammoth” plot. with “enormous potential”.

Bethesda Neighbors Appeal Judge ruling in case challenging WMAL site development plan

By Site development


Groups of Bethesda citizens are heading to a state appeals court with a lawsuit challenging approval of a 309-home development on an expanse of open land in north Bethesda.

In a June ruling, a Montgomery County judge upheld the planning council’s decision to approve a preliminary plan for the Toll Brothers project. Now, the Maryland Special Court of Appeal will consider whether the planning board wrongly granted the developer’s request to cut down some large trees and clear 5.6 acres of forest.

Toll Brothers has proposed to build 159 single-family homes and 150 townhouses on the approximately 75-acre property east of Greentree Road and just north of Beltway. For more than 50 years the site has been empty except for a set of WMAL radio transmission towers, but it has long been slated for future development, Circuit Court Judge Gary wrote in his opinion. E. Bair.

The development plans have raised various concerns among surrounding residents, who are shocked by the loss of forest and the prospect of increased traffic congestion.

Doug Bonner, vice president of the Bradley Boulevard Citizens Association, said he and his neighbors were particularly concerned about the addition of cars on Fernwood Road, which is already slipping back during rush hour.

“We are not at all opposed to the development of this property. I think we have recognized that development can and must happen. We are simply opposed to this particular plan and the number of houses being considered for this development, ”he said.

Many also want Toll Brothers to provide more recreational space in the project.

They opposed the planning council’s decision to excuse Toll Brothers of meeting the county’s forest conservation standard, allowing them to preserve 10.75 acres instead of the 15.16 required by law. Much to their dismay, Toll Brothers also obtained permission to remove 34 “specimen trees,” mature trees that would otherwise be protected by county law.

The proponent argued that he could not meet forest conservation standards as he had to build major road links that passed through stands of trees. Noise abatement structures and wetland protection will claim space on the WMAL property, and Toll Brothers is also dedicating 4.3 acres to the county for a potential school site, leaving less for the development project.

In light of these challenges, the planning board excused the developer from meeting all of the forest conservation requirements and Bair upheld the decision.

“The petitioners ask the Court to reassess the evidence and come to a different conclusion from that of the Council, which is simply not the role of the Court in appealing a decision of an administrative body,” said he wrote.

Michele Rosenfeld, who represents the Bradley Boulevard Citizens Association, West Fernwood Citizens Association, Wyngate Citizens Association and individuals challenging the WMAL plan, said it will likely be months before the appeals court hears the arguments in the case.

Community groups filed a court challenge last year after the Montgomery County Planning Council approved Toll Brothers’ preliminary plan on August 3, 2017.

The call was first reported in the Montgomery Newsletter, a real estate newsletter accessible only by subscription.

The development plan for the Central Bank site is launched

By Site development

Real estate companies Hines and the Peterson Group have been granted a building permit for the Central Plaza project in the heart of Dublin city center.

Hines issued a joint statement on Wednesday welcoming An Bord Pleanála’s decision regarding the former central bank’s site on Dame Street.

Hines senior managing director Brian Moran said the company was “delighted” that the project was given the green light.

“With the building permit now granted, this means that this exciting downtown project will accommodate more than 1,300 office workers,” he said.

The project will also create more than 300 new full and part-time retail and hospitality jobs in the five buildings that make up the Central Plaza complex.

As part of the “sensible restoration” of the building’s interior which is “already well underway,” the former Central Bank headquarters will offer 73,100 square feet of commercial office space over eight floors.

The facility will also include open-plan and breakout meeting spaces to create a “modern environment that will be a highly desirable place to work.”

Impression of the Central Plaza, formerly the Central Bank building

The entrance hall of the 6m high building will be accessed via a grand staircase accessible from the square to a 15m wide glazed facade with double height revolving doors.

“When completed, Central Plaza is expected to become one of the most vibrant and vibrant areas in the city center with the creation of 33,000 square feet of shops, restaurants and cafes at street and basement level.” , Hines said.

New streetscape

The existing plaza is also being enlarged to create a ‘dynamic new streetscape’ towards College Green and along Fownes Street and Cope Street, creating a link between Grafton Street, College Green, Trinity College and Temple Bar.

“Central Plaza is part of a comprehensive master plan that includes the adjacent properties 6-8 College Green, 9 College Green, as well as the Dame Street ancillary and commercial buildings,” the company said.

The 12,500 square foot office component at 6-8 College Green was pre-let to Amtrust Financial last year, which will begin occupying the space in the third quarter of this year.

The 10,000 square foot ground floor business unit in 6-8 will also be completed during this period, and the scaffolding on this building will be removed in the coming weeks.

Hines hired BNP Paribas as a rental agent for the commercial and hotel offer for Central Plaza. It said it was “attracting significant interest” from major international and domestic retailers as well as food and beverage operators.

BAE Westover site development planning begins

By Site development

Elan Planning, Design and Landscape Architecture of Saratoga Springs is receiving a federal grant of $ 200,000 to determine what to do with the former BAE Systems site in Westover that was vacated and cleaned up following the 2011 floods.

“The Agency” announced the hiring of the company to conduct a feasibility study on the 27-acre site.

Lisa Nagel, director of Elan, calls the Main Street site, just west of Johnson City, a “blank canvas” as the company seeks to make the site attractive to a developer.

Photo: Bob Joseph / WNBF News

Before a developer is wooed to the location, there must be work to mitigate potential future flooding. Nagel says they will be examining where the water came from during the historic 2006 floods and the 2011 flooding that ultimately left the site a wasteland after serving as a manufacturing plant for the US Airforce for decades. decades. The Broome County Industrial Development Agency, now known simply as the “Agency,” currently owns the property.

Elan will also be looking at what would work well at the site near the Vestal campus of Binghamton University and the soon to be opened Johnson City School of Pharmacy with easy access to Highway 17 and Highways 81 and 86 and site preparation costs. For the development.

A plan could be ready by October.

The development plan for the Muhlenberg hospital site is moving forward

By Site development
The facade of Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield in 2009. The hospital closed in 2008 after 131 years of operation.

PLAINFIELD – Plans to redevelop the long-vacant 10.8-acre Muhlenberg Hospital site at the intersection of Park Avenue and Randolph Road took another step forward this week.

In a 5-2 vote, city council members on Monday approved a financial deal with developer Muhlenberg Urban Renewal LLC of Bloomfield that will bring the city more than $ 10 million in revenue over 30 years.

READ:Plainfield approves salary increases for mayor and council

READ:North Plainfield Schools Must Pay $ 35,000 to Settle Civil Rights Charges

READ:North Plainfield Board of Directors votes not to renew Superintendent’s contract

Councilors Bridget Rivers and Diane Toliver voted against the ordinance. The project has already been approved by the city’s planning council, officials said.

Several residents have spoken out against the $ 56 million mixed-use project that provides 120 market-priced luxury one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as a 186,000 square foot medical complex.

2008 Statehouse protests to save Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield.  The state approved the hospital to close later that year.

A resident expressed concern that Centennial Hall meeting space would be destroyed as part of the redevelopment plan.

A resident of Carlton Avenue said she was opposed to anything other than a hospital on the Muhlenberg property.

Alan Goldstein, a resident of Madison Avenue, asked if the agreement made provisions for employment of residents or businesses in the city. He said that otherwise he would not approve of the plan.

Carlos Sanchez, deputy city administrator for economic development, said 40 percent of the project is reserved for Plainfield contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. In addition, the project provides for 200 construction jobs and when completed, around 600 jobs are expected to be made available to city residents.

“It’s in the deal, it’s black and white,” Sanchez said.

A Hillside Avenue resident, a retired teacher who lives about 20 homes from the Muhlenberg property, said the hospital has always been a good employer and a good neighbor.

She believes Plainfield doesn’t need more apartments and noted that it’s not near a transit hub that would encourage people to move in. She also thinks the 120 apartments with high-end granite countertops won’t suit an area that’s primarily single-family homes.

Lilas Borsa said the hospital was one of the reasons she moved to Plainfield in 2000.

“We have enough apartments that have already been built or are in the process of being built. I don’t know how many more apartments we can build,” Borsa said, adding that the city should attract doctors and hospitals. , or put a park on the site.

City Councilor Cory Storch asked what has been done to market the property.

Sanchez said the city started working on the project in early 2014. He said consultants had been hired to review the best use of the property and that there had been around seven meetings with residents before that the city does solicit requests for proposals.

He said the city is still looking to bring a medical item back to the property, but New Jersey is not issuing any certificates of need for new hospitals, and none are planned for the next 15 to 20 years.

With the tenders, the city received six concepts and Muhlenberg’s urban renewal plan was deemed the best for the site.

“It is not a hospital and we understand that,” Sanchez said, adding that a hospital on the site is simply not feasible or supported by the market.

He added that every year the hospital building continues to deteriorate. If the city does not move forward with the proposal, the building will remain empty and become a danger to the safety of the community.

The deal calls for Muhlenberg Urban Renewal to pay the city $ 442,968 per year in lieu of property taxes. Residential units on site are expected to be completed within 18-30 months of receiving approvals. The deadline for medical practices is 18 to 60 months after approvals.

The state approved the hospital shutdown in 2008, about five months after Solaris Health Care System, which owned the 396-bed acute care facility with JFK Medical Center, announced plans to shut it down.

Toliver said a municipal complex on the site would have been a good idea. She asked why this had not been taken into account.

“It’s not that we haven’t looked at it,” Sanchez said, adding that a new municipal complex would cost more than $ 90 million, a price the city cannot afford, while leaving the existing city hall, annex and municipal court buildings empty and developers would consider housing only for these sites.

“It’s a great idea, but it’s not the right place,” Sanchez said.

But Toliver said the city’s existing municipal buildings are old and work to update them could ultimately reach $ 90 million anyway.

“It’s like you choose your battle,” Toliver said. “Repair, repair and repair, these buildings are old and we are constantly investing money in them.”

Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Russell: 732-565-7335; [email protected]

Santa Cruz Neighbors Oppose “Mysteries” Site Development Plans – Santa Cruz Sentinel

By Site development

SANTA CRUZ >> Long a talking point for its unusual architectural design, a historic Westside residential property at 515 Fair Ave. is now attracting the attention of the neighborhood for its planned development.

On Wednesday morning, Santa Cruz Zoning Administrator Eric Marlatt will review a development project for the so-called ‘Court of Mysteries’, also known as the ‘Red Castle’ and ‘Yogi Temple’ site, built in the mid-1900s. The owners’ proposal includes the restoration of its historic features and the construction of new housing units.

San Francisco owners Douglas Harr, partner of technology consultancy firm StrataFusion, and artist Artina Morton plan to build new residences closer to their property line than city codes typically allow, an issue that helped spark an opposition effort between neighbors and the city’s letter-writing campaign.

Morton said the couple went door-to-door with neighbors in 2016 when they bought their land, inviting questions, concerns and comments. Since then, neighbors who accepted their invitation and expressed concerns have generally been appeased, Morton said.

“We’ve been true to exactly what we do from the start. We haven’t changed it at all, ”Morton said.

Tom Horn, a resident of the property in question since 1979, is among the opposition organizers. He said his main concerns were issues of fairness, neighbor privacy and fire safety. The city offers exceptions to zoning and building codes to provide incentives for developers seeking to preserve and enhance historic properties.

“So far too much attention has been paid to pushing the applicant to restore the existing ‘historic structure’ and too little attention to the impact of the proposed project on the neighborhood and neighboring properties, and we hope to change that, “Horn said, reading a prepared statement.

The city’s Historic Preservation Commission approved the project proposal at its July 19 meeting, and the plans align with the city’s general plan goal of providing incentives for renovation and maintenance. historic properties. According to the Zoning Meeting Agenda Report, since no other city-designated historic parcels are in the area, the exceptions provided for the increased housing density at 515 Fair Ave . will not set a precedent for the neighborhood.

“The project will improve the neighborhood through the upkeep, security and maintenance of the lot, and will not have a negative impact on neighboring properties,” according to the zoning administrator’s report.

The owners hope to give prominence to the existing “Yogi Temple” building in the center of the lot, while building behind it a new two-story residence, where they will live, and a grandmother’s unit above the garage. Separately, the project proposes to divide part of the property into a new plot, with the construction of a condominium duplex and another granny unit above the garage in an area otherwise zoned for single-family homes. The owners said they could initially lease the units, but have long-term plans to house close family friends as investors, adding that their plans do not exceed the density of development that would be allowed if their property was divided into four single family homes.

The first floor of the primary residence would be constructed within 5.5 feet of the backyards of the residential properties on Getchell Street. The city code generally requires a 20 foot buffer zone. The condominiums would also approach the neighboring property line, shared with a 10-foot-wide driveway to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Harr said he and his wife are trying to work with the city and its neighbors on any issues that arise.

“The majority of the feedback we receive is really positive. People are thrilled that someone is finally coming to take care of the property, ”said Harr. “In the past there has been graffiti and other damage to really cool monuments. People are delighted that someone is there to take care of the place and restore it to its beauty. We are delighted to do so.


What: Zoning Administrator meeting.

When: 10 a.m., Wednesday.

Where: Santa Cruz City Hall, 809 Center St.

At issue: 515 Fair Ave. Development of three condominiums.

Data center construction: site development, permits and zoning

By Site development

Shawn Mills is a tech entrepreneur, founding member and president of Green House Data. You can find him on Twitter at @tshawnmills.

Greenhouse data

This series of articles follows the process of developing a new data center, focusing on how small operators can build energy-efficient facilities without the resources of large companies. Previous entries have included planning for expansion, selecting a site, finding incentives and deciding if a real estate and / or design partner is right for you and designing your new facility.

Once the design wheels are spinning, it’s time to work with state and local governments on site development, permits, and zoning. A lot of people are moaning about the politics involved, but it can actually be a rewarding chance to engage your community and also improve business relationships.

Check under each stone for incentives

After selecting a site, you should contact the local government to see if there are any additional development incentives. In the case of Green House Data, it has been very enjoyable to work with the Cheyenne Town Building and Development Office. We’ve all heard stories about the permit process and jumping through hoops to get there. In the Compass Data Center building series here on Data Center Knowledge, meetings seem woefully boring. They certainly can be. Mr. Curtis also makes an important point when he describes the process as not being decided on technical merits, but on a subjective basis. The technical aspects of the building are definitely discussed, but often this process is as much about forging relationships as it is about tackling the nuts and bolts.

Choosing a location with “incentive” data centers can work your way again here. These estates want your business and they will do whatever they can to partner up. To start with, Cheyenne’s economic development entities like Cheyenne LEADS and the Wyoming Business Council helped us acquire the land at a very competitive price. Because we’re aligned with our business goals (we want a new facility, they want more jobs and industries), local managers can actually help everything go easier when they are working, even though the State and city allow it. This strong working relationship has helped us overcome schedule challenges and has been invaluable in helping us sort through documentation, ensure meetings are productive, and keep track of many details of this great project.

Stay on top of the planning

Whether you have a sympathetic or indifferent local government, you should always be prepared to tackle lengthy documents and meetings. Missing deadlines can cost you weeks because everything is on a schedule. Each municipality will have different processes, but there are frequently some overall similarities. In Cheyenne, it goes more or less as follows, including the expected timelines:

  • Annexation: If necessary, land adjacent to existing towns may need to be annexed (up to 5 months)
  • Decking: Platting is the subdivision of plots. The process can be divided into preliminary and final stages (3-5 months)
  • Zoning: Different areas of cities are zoned for different purposes like residential, industrial, etc. If the area needs to be changed for your use, this requires public notice, application, multiple commissions / council approval (3 months)
  • Sitemap: Site plan reviews are typically required for new construction and analyze access, parking, landscaping, drainage report, traffic survey, setbacks, etc. If you request an exemption, an additional period applies (10 days to 6 weeks)
  • Examination of the construction plan: Construction plans are subject to a specific service and are chargeable. They can be revised at any time during the development process and must include a ‘plot plan’, an extended site plan (3 weeks minimum)
  • Examination of the construction plan: The technical drawings of the development site are checked by a separate office (2 weeks minimum)
  • Classification permit: If the site requires grading, a separate permit should be obtained and the plans should be reviewed. This involves a request and costs (2 weeks minimum)
  • Passage permit: For development within the city right-of-way, a separate permit is required, with its own application and fees.
  • Building permit: This must be obtained before starting any construction, can only be issued to a licensed contractor, and requires application, fees and approval of the construction plan and site plan.
  • Sign the permit: If you plan to erect road signs, a separate application and permit is required.
  • Site map Certificate of conformity: Once the site plan is approved, you can obtain this certificate, which allows you to obtain a certificate of occupancy.

Phew! It’s a long list, and while many steps may overlap, it takes a long time. With almost every step requiring its own application, licensing, and review process, there are plenty of dates to follow. Most of the exam sessions involved take place on specific dates due to public notice or other factors, which means that it’s critical that you stay on top of your schedule.

Codes: the key to approval

For construction and site plans, local building codes will be critical to your success. The required codes are likely listed on your municipality’s website, and most cities adhere to international building codes (including residential / mechanical / plumbing / electrical and so on).

As you have designed your facility with your development partners, you should have a good understanding of building code requirements, which often conflict with your infrastructure needs. Home inspectors and permit approvers focus more on the safety of people than on the efficiency of your building. Be sure to discuss many of your features with your designers so you can explain your reasoning to the authorization and inspection teams.

Now that you’ve won the permitting process, it’s finally time to start building! Our next entry will finish things off as we innovate and begin construction.

Industry Perspectives is a Data Center Knowledge content channel highlighting thought leadership in the data center industry. See our guidelines and submission process for more information on how to participate. Check out previously published Industry Insights in our Knowledge Library.