Written by: Brian Quigley, Executive Vice President
Challenging sites for commercial real estate development come in many forms. Conor Commercial has extensive experience with turning challenging sites into successful developments. Some site complexities Conor has experienced lately include infill development in blighted areas, environmental remediation and wetland restoration, to name a few.
Infill Development in Blighted Areas
One of the most rewarding things about developing commercial real estate in urban locales is the opportunity to transform blighted areas into Class A industrial properties that bring jobs and commerce. Some of these areas are prime candidates for redevelopment because they are often within close proximity to major highways and site sizes offer flexibility to accommodate most industrial users. Redevelopment provides an economic engine and can breathe new life into a community while providing employment for local residents. For example, we recently implemented a community outreach program to hire and train local residents to work on the construction of our properties. Now this outreach program is being adopted by the City of Chicago as a best practice for other developers.
One of the biggest challenges we face with infill sites is polluted subsurface conditions, which often result in environmental remediation. This gives us another chance to make a positive impact on an area by redeveloping these contaminated sites into revenue generating properties. Geotechnical testing and core drill sampling can provide a measure of comfort, ensuring that the site is free of contaminated soils. Many developers often take two cores per acre, which only results in 0.002% coverage and leaves a large portion of the site unexplored. One way we achieve greater certainty is to dig test pits on multiple critical areas of the site, such as the building foundation area. This provides a more comprehensive look at the soil suitability for a site.
When developing sites near wetlands, one of the first diligence items we undertake is to have a wetlands expert walk the site to determine if there is any aquatic vegetation. We then request a formal wetland delineation that determines the exact location and quality of existing wetlands. Working with local agencies throughout this complex process, we are able to preserve – or restore – the wetland. We take great care in protecting these unique ecosystems. As land scarcity rises, the need for development on challenging sites will continue to grow. Conor Commercial is well-positioned to offer creative solutions that maximize value for our investors and clients while generating positive economic impact.