How difficult to redesign, re-engineer a commercial development site.

8 Replies

Hi, my family owns a 8950 square foot lot that is on the back portion of a 19 acre development site. The site is currently being developed for a large retailer. The site will consist of a 260,000 square foot store, and a 46,000 square foot warehouse. A portion of the warehouse will sit directly over the parcel that my family owns. Legal issues and other circumstances have led to my family holding possession of the property despite most of the demolition having already occurred. We have the only house standing on the development site. My question is: how difficult will it be for the developer to make adjustments to their site plan to accommodate a build around us, and how difficult it would be to build around us given their current construction schedule.? Utilities are currently above ground, they still need to grade the site, and a build around us would require moving the warehouse, and most likely the main store. My family needs to make a decision as whether to sell or to keep the property. If we can keep the property, we would prefer to. However, if it complicates the site or delays the construction too much, we're willing to get out of their way.


I would have to see the site plans in relation to your property. Just as a context I used to assemble land for developers on commercial projects about this size.

If you are trying to hold out for a higher price unless you are in the middle we could usually just redesign and cut off your parcel if a small size on the outskirts.

If you were in the middle being tough then the developer would go to the city or county to take the property by eminent domain for park space with a fountain etc.

A big project like you are saying will bring a bunch of property taxes to the county or city and will create jobs. Local government will not let one parcel owner stop such a project.

Now a developer will come up some on price but they will not pay you some insane amount.

Again I would really have to see where your land lies in relation to the 3-d architectural drawings overlay for the development.

No legal advice.

Thanks for the reply.

I do not have a 3D plan. But I've attached the site plan overlaying a satellite image, as well as a whitepaper plan. In both, our property is represented by a yellow rectangle. In the satellite image, the warehouse is represented in purple, and the store is represented in green.

We sincerely would like to stay in the area, and are not holding out. There is a lot of new development taking place, and would like to keep the property there. But if the developer and city makes a big deal of this, we'll take the maximum payment. What would be an insane amount? Eminent Domain would not be available in our case.

We're missing something here. This developer has an approved site plan, and started demo on project that includes your property, but has no contract to buy your property?

The city has attempted to redevelop this area for many years. In 2006 they exercised Eminent Domain against our property but never acquired it because the developer fell through. The city never abandoned the condemnation. State statute limits the ability to acquire the property by eminent domain to five years. Fast forward to 2013, the city approves the current developer. All other property owners negotiated contracts. However, the city attempted to acquire our property under the old condemnation. We lawyered up and stopped the acquisition of our property. Now the developer/city has asked us to either settle or inform them whether we wish to have them build around us. I'm not convinced they can do the latter. Nonetheless, I'm just trying to get an idea of how difficult it would be for them to build around us.

I work as a Civil Engineer and we do mostly large multifamily and commercial type projects, not knowing your specific local development rules/processes this may not be applicable.

Personally I'd sell now. Reason being it will save them several thousand dollars to not have to go through redesigning storm sewer, building footprints, site layout, lot line adjustments ect. Once they've done all that while your property will still have a value of some sort it will be no longer valuable to that developer, at least not until/unless they have a specific need for it which may not come for some time.

Also it appears it may be somewhat in the back of the site so it may not have a value for future development off the driveway area. Though it is hard to say just based on a couple pictures, without knowing what the main road frontage looks like and what their specific site requirements are. So just my limited knowledge I'd say that you may be able to get the maximum value for your property right now. You save them from any costs associated with redesign and the potential that your property isn't of any value for future development for some time, or ever depending on how long it takes until someone else wanted to develop another commercial use there.

I agree with Matt. Once the development is done around you, your place loses most of its value. I don't know what commercial development would fit on your parcel where you'd have the necessary parking, etc. If it were me, I'd take the money and run.

Karen Margrave, Contractor in CA (#680782)

I can't give legal advice.

From your maps it appears you are on the back side of the project on a side road with not much traffic.

From a developers stand point that is the back side waste land of the property. You would need to sit down with the developer and ask what are they thinking in terms of price?? Let them throw the number out first. The KEY will be if the number is enough to get you another building in just as good of a location with the proceeds. If you can't then it might be best to stay where you are at. It looks like they could just brick up around you. Does the front of your building face into the development or the side street?? If you agree to move sell everything out of the building possible to squeeze more money out of it. The developer is just going to knock the shell down anyways. You do not want to put more money into their pockets. We had a guy with a 16 unit apartment building. He had it in the contract to remove everything.

The STEAK as we call it for the developers and where they make there money is the 3 outparcel lots on the map at the road frontage. That's where they get the highest prices.

Sell, but hire a negotiator. I used one last year on a deal that went south quickly. I think I paid around 1%. It can make all the difference in the world.