How to Develop 4 Acres of land near Bethany Beach, DE

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We have 2 rectangular lots that total around 8 acres (4 acres each, and directly across from each other).  Based on what I know of the area (and I know it fairly well), this would be perfect for a 3-story commercial building.  While I do not know the highest & best use in current market, (Idea #1; retail on 1st floor, office on 2nd floor, and residential on 3rd floor, Idea #2 All 3 floors residential), I'm trying to figure out how to go about developing with a builder in a way that allows us to maintain control of the property as a whole when finished.  Assume we own the land outright.  Would you recommend putting out an RFP to Local & Regional Builders for design proposals & cost to build, or something else??  

@Matthew Wolfe I think you are getting ahead of yourself to ask for a RFP. There is no information for a Contractor to provide a bid. I would recommend hiring an Architect to do a feasibility study first. This will tell you exactly what you can build and get any zoning questions answered (very easy to find out). However this is just a start and the final design may drastically change if there are any city or neighborhood meetings. From there you can have the architect provide a schematic design with materials shown. Once you have this you can bring in the builders. Of course this will be a preliminary bid as there are still too many outstanding items.

Another option is to have the architect do what I stated above but bring in a Contractor to provide cost estimates from the beginning. Most likely You will have to pay for these at first. Once it is time to bid on the project you let the Contractor bid on the job as well as a few others. The majority of big projects (millions of dollars) are done this way.

One more option that is done all over the world but not really in the USA is too hold a competition. One of the requirements might be that only design build firms may enter. You will have to give other parameters as well, for example, budget, desired SF, aesthetics and so on.

Regardless of the method used above asking for a RFP at this stage of the game won’t do you any favors.

Feel free to PM me with any questions. Good luck.