Navigating Land Development: Start to Finish

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As a developer with a vision, there is quite a lot to consider when trying to make your project a reality. Whether it be land closing, planning, entitlements, design, permitting, financing, or construction; each aspect of the development process is equally important for a successful ribbon cutting that is on schedule and under budget. Navigating each step can tricky and problems discovered too late have the potential to set you back and undermine your investment. Engaging an expert who thinks like a developer early in the process is critical to your success. That is why Wenck’s land development engineers should be the first consultants you call to help you achieve your development goals.

In the last decade, Minneapolis and the greater Twin City Metro has seen the largest growth and increase in urbanization since the post-WWII boom era of the 1950’s. This has not gone unnoticed by government leaders, as local municipalities are planning for rapid, sustainable growth in an effort to create functioning communities we all can enjoy. A quick look into the 2040 Thrive MSP Comprehensive Plan shows this to be the case. But what does this mean for a developer looking at one parcel or project? As local planning departments prepare for the future, proposed projects are receiving increased scrutiny during the planning and entitlement stage of development to avoid community issues down the road. It is not uncommon for a planning department to require almost 80% of the civil site design to be complete prior to recommending a project move forward to a vote for entitlements. Designing detailed plans on the front end places a lot of risk on a development budget without any guarantee that your project will be approved by the City. Receiving a denial at Planning Commission is a nightmare that can be avoided with proper due diligence and planning to minimize risk.

Wenck engineers have navigated the development process to completion on countless projects and are uniquely positioned to assist with initial concept planning and entitlement services. Historically, site design engineers join a development team at the design stage and assist with the grading, drainage, and utility design of a site. This approach made sense in an environment with less regulation. Today, multiple aspects of a civil engineering design also factor in to the planning and zoning phase of a project as well. Depending on the type of project and location, site design will vary greatly according to the zoning requirements on any given site. Engaging a land development engineer to spearhead your entitlement process is a smart move to increase your chance of approval the first time you apply.

Pavement setbacks, parking stall count, stormwater treatment sizing, building placement, and traffic circulation are just a few examples of many regulatory constraints that factor into a site layout and engineering design. It is prudent to take these into account early in the design process to ensure a project is appropriately planned before it is submitted. Land development engineers are apt at developing solutions to meet code requirements that minimize impacts to a project and have the experience necessary to anticipate problems before a project moves too far down the wrong path.

In addition to entitlement approvals, land development engineers can assist on a technical level with concept planning that will directly impact a projects bottom line. As development has progressed throughout the US, it is apparent that the cheap and easy sites to develop have all been taken already. For the most part, any greenfield that is remaining in an urban area has not been developed for a reason. Whether it be poor soils or lack of room for stormwater infrastructure, there are countless potential obstacles that need to be designed around for a project to succeed. Bringing an engineer on board the team during the initial concept planning can help avoid a large majority of these issues. Something as straightforward as relocating a stormwater pond over sandy soils and away from clay will drastically reduce overall construction costs.

Wenck’s technical support and experience with the entitlement process helps clients overcome the multitude of obstacles to reach a successful ribbon ceremony. Initial assistance at the beginning of the project concept phase may help you avoid expensive complications later. Regardless if your needs are industrial, commercial, institutional, residential, or a mix of all of these, Wenck has the experience and technical expertise to bring all aspects of the design together for a finished product that you are proud of.

Our land development consultants offer the full range of services you need to maximize the value of your property, including master planning, due diligence, site feasibility and constraint analysis, entitlement support, engineering site design, and permitting services. We recognize that every project is unique and brings its own set of challenges. Our project managers know when to pull in Wenck’s environmental scientists, landscape architects, water resources engineers, permitting specialists, and other technical experts to ensure your project is successful. We will work efficiently and strategically as your consultant to meet project requirements and achieve your specific goals. Partnering with a consultant that thinks like a developer will help mitigate unnecessary risk and cost impacts that every project encounters.

About Wenck

Founded in 1985, Wenck operates both nationally and internationally providing holistic environmental, engineering, construction, and response solutions. We are your partner and advocate behind the scenes, with 275+ multidisciplinary technical experts championing all facets of your most essential business interests. With a passion for air, water, waste, land/natural resources, and infrastructure, we utilize our discrete expertise to ensure your organization is operational and thriving.

Wenck believes collaboration leads to innovation, so we engage the right internal experts and leverage strategic alliance partners to drive projects forward. We stay current on the latest technical details, regulations, and movements across all our market areas, managing the risk for you with economic efficiency in mind. And as environmental stewards, we value community and resilient ideals that result in shared success. Let us know how we can help you build a better planet.

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Wenck Author

Jack Ammerman

Civil Engineer