When it comes to choosing the right location for your new school development project, it’s not all about location.
While it’s true that location is the biggest influencing factor on the success of school district real estate, there’s more to the process than simply picking the best plot of land. Real estate development for schools faces unique challenges related to the market you’re serving–when picking the spot for a successful school location, a Superintendent or Chief Business Officer (CBO) needs to keep the needs of the community in mind every step of the way.
1. Preliminary Analysis
A pre-project assessment is an essential first step before you even consider breaking ground on a new development project. This review can give you the necessary information on the framework and viability of your plan before you begin, and can inform your decision-making process with research on potential pitfalls you may encounter along the way.
This type of analysis typically involves:
- Constructing a plan outline
- Acquisition of necessary construction permits or zoning certifications
- Analysis of nearby material acquisition
- Cost-analysis and determining adequacy of funding
- Terms of purchasing agreements for land, materials, and labor
- Work and projected completion schedule
- Political landscape and community concerns in the district boundaries.
This pre-project assessment is the framework for the entire construction and real estate marketing process.
2. Easily Accessible Location
But even the best-laid plans of construction and market analysis fall by the wayside in favor of one of the most critical aspects of real estate–location!
It’s no secret that where your building is located plays a large part in determining its overall value. This value is often financial, but for schools it often relates more to your prospective “customer” perception of the land. Is it easy to get to? Is it in a good neighborhood? Are there useful amenities in the area?
Parents often make ease of access one of the primary factors in where they send their children to learn. Schools that are in centralized locations with easily-accessible residential areas will be more effective at bringing students in than those that require parents to travel cross-country. Schools with locations that are easily accessed by walking and bicycles will be more favorable choices for parents looking for a little more simplicity in their lives.
3. Close to Public Transportation
And speaking of easily accessible…
Development projects that are strategically located in proximity to public transportation have better financial and community merit. Situating schools near public transit provides opportunities to reach a much wider and more diverse subset of the population with little additional effort on the part of developers.
Situating a school near accessible public transportation can allow you to broaden the outreach of educational services and level the playing field for students located too far away to partake in the amenities enjoyed by students who live nearby.
4. Opportunities to Offset Costs
None of us has bottomless pockets, and development projects are notorious for turning into money sinkholes that quickly drain the budget and patience of everyone involved. If your project analysis in step one was effectively done, cost-saving opportunities may present themselves in the form of competitive pricing terms for land acquisition, construction, and rental terms.
Negotiation is key here, as unique factors like the local economy, nearby amenities, the national real estate market, and location all play a part in what terms your project will be subject to.