So you want to be a real estate developer, me too. I have heard it said that...

“THE essential skill required to be a developer is the ability to look at a piece of property and imagine a new and better use”

Most architects that I know are doing this all the time. I know I do. Everywhere I go In my imagination each falling apart building is a restored historical gem. A weedy empty lot is beautiful new building. This combined with a number of other factors helped me decide it was time to take action.

I am going to be doing a mini blog series about my experience in developing my first project. Look for a new post on this subject on the last day of the month all year long. Or subscribe on the right to make sure you don’t miss a post.

Salt Lake has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance over the past few years. Downtown has made incredible strides since I move here in ‘08. However, there are still many opportunities that seemed to be missed by the conventional development. I think I am well suited to capitalize on those gaps, so it is time to get moving.


So my first real step was to find the land.

Not knowing exactly where to start, I decided that I needed to find some land to buy (FYI this is probably not the right first step). I am really interested in cities, and I thought I might be able to make something out of one of the small dilapidated lots in downtown. So I started spending inordinate amounts of time on the County’s Parcel Viewer. Whenever I would see a building that looked a little (or alot) run down I would immediately find that property on the parcel viewer and find what information there was about that property. This is a great resource to see who owns which property. After studying the maps and property ownership I started to get the idea that much of the crap land in downtown is simply part of some developers long term plan to get a single large block of land or perhaps some other long term strategy. I have come to this conclusion because a high percentage of the worst parcels have the same owner as the adjacent land, so it feels like people are land banking to make a big play. I am not interested in a big play, I am interested in smaller projects that contribute to an amazing city.

The more I searched the more it became apparent that the search area needed to be widened. As I begin looking in the urban fringe I fell in love. There are abundant opportunities. And within a few block of downtown prices fall dramatically. After looking for a while, the Guadalupe neighborhood looked like the best location.

Vicinity Analysis of the Guadalupe Neighborhood

Guadalupe is located just a few blocks from the center of downtown. With the recent reconstruction of the North Temple viaduct and the opening of the airport TRAX line, this area has all the makings of the next great neighborhood in the city. This neighborhood has the diversity of which urban planners dream. There are a wide variety of living options are available — from large, new, single-family homes to historic multifamily buildings. There is also a wonderful mix of other uses. I love this because it allows me to do a small project that can contribute to an already great area. One other advantage of the Guadalupe neighborhood is that there are a number of vacant and underutilized lots. And the final perk is this is where I live, so I know all the intricacies. Guadalupe is definitely the area for me.

Now I know where I know where, I need to figure out how to purchase the land, fund the construction, and build it. That nothing, Right? Ok, maybe that is a huge deal on a first project. I decided I needed a team. In February's post I will start to talk about how I went about building a team.