Master Planning: A Powerful Tool to Add Value to CRE
A master plan can help a developer strike the right balance between long-range
investment objectives and the right mix of programmatic elements.
By Nitin B. Desai and Philip Wilkinson Jr., AIA, AE7 Planners and Architects
THE MASTER PLAN is the quintessential tool to enable developers to
make informed decisions about site
selection, ;nancial viability and program planning, including use, scale
and timing. While master plans are
essential for large-scale projects and
complex mixed-use developments,
they can also help developers make
decisions about smaller commercial
The master plan is a valuable tool for
evaluating alternative sites as well
as for selecting the most appropriate
use to ensure the best development
potential and return on investment.
Master plans can also help the development team embrace sustainable
design early in the development process to increase a project’s ;nancial
viability while decreasing short- and
Smart Site Selection
Commercial development projects
become ;nancially viable when their
site and programs are compatible.
Planners must evaluate the following factors in order to determine
the feasibility of a development, to
maximize a site’s full development
potential and/or to determine which
of several potential sites is optimal for
a particular project.
1) Geometry: Does the site’s shape
easily accommodate a complex program or does it add to development
2) Geology: How does soil quality
impact the type of construction or
3) Zoning: How will the site’s zoning
— including any stipulations, bene;ts
and/or incentives — impact its development potential?
4) Accessibility: Can access to existing roadways and utilities reduce
infrastructure development costs?
5) Legal Attributes: Do covenants,
easements or deed restrictions limit
how the site can be developed?
6) Financial Attributes: How might
the cost of the land and any potential
tax incentives impact commercial
7) Intangible Assets: Can the project
leverage panoramic views or natural
features to help create a unique a
sense of place?
A master plan provides valuable information about a proposed development to help determine its ;nancial
viability. One particularly useful way
to do this is through intelligent master
plans with real-time updates. Smart
3-D building information modeling
(BIM) enables designers and developers
to visualize complicated or large sites