No more legwork: How to find a great location to develop in seconds

You’ve just completed a big project in Phoenix, AZ — a luxury seniors residence with 200 units — and you’re riding high. Not only was the project finished on-schedule and on-budget, it was the realization of a personal mission: creating a beautiful home that you’d feel good about having your own aging parents spend their golden years in, one with gorgeous views, world-class design, and great amenities nearby.

And as it turns out, with the rapidly aging population in the US, your parents weren’t the only ones who wanted in; 80% of the units were sold out before construction was completed. So, it’s not a question of whether you’re going to build a similar project but, rather, where?

Location, location, location

Location, location, insufferable location. It’s where all projects begin, and you’ve got to get it right; the difference between a good location and a mediocre one is the difference between a 20% return or a 20% loss. Each possible development site has so many facets to analyze – demographics, amenities, zoning, transportation options, and on and on and on. Digging up trustworthy data on all these aspects for every single site under consideration is tedious, time-consuming work, and to go through all that hassle just to get to a “no” late in the process is a massive headache.

Site assessments, unit mixes, and target demographics

But there might be a way to cut through all that. You were recently told about a product called Local Analytics that’s supposed to help developers with site assessments, unit mixes, and target demographics. You’re not totally sold – after all, you’ve been unimpressed with other data platforms – but your colleagues keep talking about the prop tech revolution, so maybe it’s worth seeing if Local Analytics can help you find a site for your next seniors residence project.

Through the grapevine, you’ve heard that Las Vegas might have potential. Despite the fact that Vegas and Phoenix have vastly different reputations – wild and flashy versus low-key and dependable – the two have more in common than most people might expect. Both are in the desert, both are seeing migration from unaffordable California, and the housing prices in both metro areas are almost identical. But you barely know Vegas. You haven’t even been off The Strip. Trying to figure out if there’s anywhere in Sin City where you could build a viable project, trying to find that hidden gem of a location before anyone else does, could be a big fat waste of time and money.

Using location intelligence to improve site selection

So, how can Local Analytics help? First, let’s see if it would have been able to find the location of your recently finished project.

To test that out, we’ll use the location filters in the app. These filters show which locations in a given area meet a set of criteria. There are filters for general location characteristics, like walkability and quietness, as well as those for filtering locations by proximity to specific amenities, like transit stations and schools, and those for filtering by demographics, like age and income. A heatmap shows which locations perfectly meet, somewhat meet, or don’t meet your selected criteria.

For a luxury senior housing complex, we’ll select the following filters: proximity to shopping, a grocery store within a ten-minute walk, at least a quarter of the residents being retired, and median household incomes of at least 70K.

When we apply the above search filters, we see which areas on the map perfectly meet, partially meet, or do not meet our criteria. In the map below, the dark green areas are the ones that perfectly meet our criteria.

Zooming in, we can see these green pockets more easily. And sure enough, the site of your project, near Camelback and North 24th, pops out. Several other locations jump out at you too; some of them are in areas of Phoenix you’re familiar with, and at first glance, make sense. Others are in less familiar areas — maybe they’re worth checking out.

So, what about Vegas? Without changing any of the filters, we can just pan the map from Phoenix to Vegas and see the results:

Again, we see several pockets of the city that meet all the criteria. And the analysis took all of a couple minutes, versus the couple of days or weeks per site it would usually take. With dozens of potential sites to analyze for any new project, that could add up to serious time saved. Time you don’t have to spend hunting down data. Time you can spend doing the things you want to do, rather than what you have to do. Time you can spend telling your team to pack their bags, we’re going to Las Vegas!


Colin Stewart

March 17, 2021 | 5 minutes read