Will it Fit? The Value of a Pre-Development Lot-Fit Analysis

A lot-fit analysis is a core part of any development. In simplest terms, it ensures that the land you plan to develop has the capacity to fit the structure you envision. A thorough, comprehensive lot-fit analysis is especially important for commercial and mixed-use developments. Not only are you working with a much larger footprint compared to residential projects, you’re also working with a much larger budget. 

So, what exactly does a lot-fit analysis entail, and how can it benefit commercial and mixed-use developers? Read on to learn about this essential pre-developm ent step.

What is a pre-development lot-fit analysis?

Experienced commercial developers know that all projects are different, and some are much harder to get off the ground than others. Sometimes, difficulties that arise during the site preparation phase can stop a project in its tracks. 

While commercial developers can’t always dictate where a client builds their properties, there’s one important consideration to keep in mind right from the start: finding the right lot for the proposed project.

There are many variables that can make one lot better than another for a given project. From location to soil quality, zoning and more, there are several things to consider as you pick a lot. That said, matching the size of the lot to the project at hand is often the most critical.

Horizontal and vertical fit is crucial

Fitting a potential development onto a plot of land is necessary for residential and commercial developments alike, but the commercial side comes with many more restrictions and considerations. 

Commercial projects must adhere not only to both horizontal restrictions like easements and boundary lines, but must also fit vertical limitations imposed by local municipalities. For example, many cities throughout the country specify height limits for buildings located a certain distance from airports. Other cities impose height limits to preserve scenic views of important buildings or downtown areas. 

As commercial developers choose the best lot for their next project, they need to consider horizontal and vertical fit from the outset. It could be the difference between an expensive mistake and a lot that’s ideal for the planned project.

Size vs. product-market fit considerations

Aside from the physical fit of a proposed commercial project, there’s also the impact of the development to consider. 

For example, a mixed-use project might physically fit on a plot of land in one location, but variables like access to nearby public transportation or proximity to industrial zones may make the lot unpalatable to future residents or tenants. Instead, another location might be a better product-market fit, even though it may require some creative planning and flexibility on the part of both the developer and the client to make it work. 

Developers and clients alike need to plan projects with their end-user in mind. If a potential project requires a certain amount of access, the lot needs to be located in an area that accommodates those demands. 

Other considerations

There are several other considerations to address as you choose the right lot for a potential development. By working with professional development consultants who maintain strong relationships with local municipalities and professionals, you can ensure you’re choosing the best lot for your proposed project—one that meets both local requirements and the needs of your end-user. 

Development consultants will help you consider:

  • Budget. Development consultants can help you look at the big picture when it comes to your budget, not just of the cost of the plot of land itself but also the cost of materials, land preparation, annual taxes and the construction itself. 
  • Zoning. When developing pre-zoned lots, it’s crucial to consider the context of the current designation. While it’s possible to have land re-zoned, it might not always be worth the trouble if a lot-fit analysis yields a similar option that’s already zoned appropriately.
  • Topography. Investigate all features of the land nearby, including cliffs, hills, valleys and other topographical features. Even a quick Google earth search can provide valuable information about a site’s unique topography, if you’re unable to visit the lot in person.

Maximizing a land investment

Choosing the right lot—from the beginning—lays a solid foundation for every successful commercial project. Armed with valuable information from a comprehensive pre-development lot-fit analysis, commercial developers can rest assured that the land they’re about to develop is best-suited for the project planned for it. Taking the time to do this right upfront saves lots of headaches (and money) down the line when the variables add up to what was planned.

Need help discovering what you can build on your lot? Looking for a lot that’s the best fit for your project? Sandbox Development is ready to help. We have extensive experience guiding commercial and mixed-use developers through the site preparation phase of projects of all sizes, so you can get your project off the ground without headaches or delays.