3 Boston Property Development Mistakes to Avoid

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Anyone who has been active in the property development and construction world for more than just a few months will testify that there are “cycles.” In other words, as much as we love the business, there are definitely times that we would rather forget and not have to repeat!

The boom and bust phenomenon is much more than a catchy phrase for anyone who makes a living planning, designing, constructing, finishing and furnishing the structures that fill our neighborhoods, and for those who help make the neighborhoods and the cities of this nation the way they are and the way they will be in the future.

In Boston today, we speak of an unprecedented building boom. These are welcome, exciting, profitable times. The past two or three years have been ones of growth, in physical terms, of cooperation between public and private sectors, of promise and possibility for consumers and buyers, and of economic benefit to the community as a whole.

What Does the Future Hold?

As tempting as it may be to expect that the good times — and the benefits — will continue, we believe that a more realistic approach is to look at other boom markets in an effort to prevent the mistakes that can be avoided, and to insulate, as much as possible, local developers, builders and consumers from the effects of possible bad times.

Austin, Texas, is in many ways representative of similar development challenges. Austin real estate attorney Joshua Bernstein wrote a cautionary column almost two years ago, and we believe that at least some of the “hot market mistakes” that he cited are pertinent for Boston developers to remember.

‘Hot Market’ Property Development Mistakes to Avoid

1. Financing and Marketing

It should be obvious, but building economic alliances and understanding the marketing process, not only to get a project out of the ground but to assure its acceptance and success, are key to a healthy real estate market. Balancing costs and sales, appealing to the right buyers, “fitting in” to a neighborhood, attracting investors, and being open to innovative financing partnerships — all are vital components of the public/private cooperation that we believe signal one of the great achievement of our current market. We look for expansion and improvement across the spectrum of building and development, and even greater cooperation.

2. Facing the Difficult

There is an old construction maxim: “If it’s easy, anybody could do it.” But, as Bernstein notes, just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be considered, explored and tried. As he notes, it’s the tough deals that can be the most rewarding. We applaud the efforts of Boston developers who face big challenges with wide open eyes, and who pursue excellence and innovation at every turn.

3. Planning to Reach the Goal

Change takes time. We all know that. But, begun is half done! We must begin to look for ways to provide more affordable housing. We must commit to build better, faster, cheaper, easier. We must work together to find energy solutions, to make buildings safer, to solve our traffic problems, to assure that Boston’s downtown becomes a core community where diverse residents can live, work and enjoy themselves. That takes time, effort and commitment. But it also means starting right NOW, and not giving up.

We know that the development and construction professionals who are “in the trenches” and the governmental officials and overseers who are involved every day in setting policy are committed in every way to the good of the community. We also understand that the current boom will not continue forever. What we hope is that when the heat begins to fade we have in place procedures that will lessen the effects of a local slowdown, and that we will continue to work to assure a bright and prosperous future for downtown Boston, its surrounding neighborhoods, and all its residents.

We at NEBS plan to be right here, helping to make it all happen.