How to long for development approval usually.

Hi Guys

For those who work in development, how long does it take for you to get approval once your architect submits Plans?

I'm referring to small scale stuff sub 50 mill 50 unit developments.

Trying to work this out for my assumptions in the model, and budgeting for my am model.

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Comments (11)

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Oct 10, 2021 - 1:17pm

Really depends on your market. What I've found is that non-major markets with lower density typically have quicker approval processes because 1.) there are less stakeholders (neighbors/abutters) to have an opinion and satisfy and 2.) the town/city wants to attract investors and development. Maybe someone else can give a more specific/accurate answer. I don't work in a non-major market, so I don't wan to give inaccurate info.

However, I do work in a major market/tier 1 city and around here a development of of 14 units+ and less than 50,000 SF takes about 1.5-2 years. The process for a variance of this size is 1.) architect/engineers draw plans/proposal and tries to gain unofficial neighborhood support/feedback (~6 months) 2.) Meet with Planning Board for feedback/resubmit after updates (~3-6 months) 3.) Assuming Planning Board approves, then schedule meeting with Zoning Board. During this time there is also a official 2-3 month comment period where you sit and wait for neighbors to comment), 4. Schedule hearing with Zoning Board (2-3 months). This is just approval from the Zoning Board though. Once the Zoning Board approves the project at the hearing, there is like another 3 months of back office shit where they need to draft official documents and signatures from the board members. Then when you get the official documents or approval then you can pull the building permit which takes 6-9 months...Now if your project goes over 50,000 SF then this process becomes like 4- 5 years....And yet they wonder why housing is so expensive...

Oct 10, 2021 - 2:07pm

I quite literally just permitted a sub 50 unit deal in Austin. Building Permit only took about 45 days but we paid to have it expedited. The Building Permit isn't the long lead item though when it comes to entitlement, the Site Development Permit is. Right now in Austin those are taking anywhere between 12-18 months.

That's just Austin though, but most places are similar.

Oct 10, 2021 - 4:19pm

We are doing an apartment development with 31 units about 30mill GDV. its in a non major market around lower density residential. We have a pretty active community when it comes to development, have heard even the government office celebrates when they reject any new development applications. We are in Australia so terminology is pretty different.We have been going around in circles and local council keeps saying change this and change that. Then we go and make the changes and then resubmit only for them to make us change something else that they could have just made us change in the beginning.We are now getting a third party town planner to write a report stating exactly what's required for approval and are in the process on going to court with the development.This is probably the 3rd year of doing this planning and it's fucking with my budgets. However still profitable as we bough way under our residual value and margin is around the 30% mark.Appreciate the comments. How much does it cost to get a da expedited? Wondering if you can do that in Australia.Just seems to be taking way too long and have been screwed around for years now.Is our architect just basically really shit? Private Town planning consultant came back with a lot of stuff wrong with the building. So thinking it's the architect that has done the design not to code exactly.

Oct 11, 2021 - 8:05pm

AM Guru

I quite literally just permitted a sub 50 unit deal in Austin. Building Permit only took about 45 days but we paid to have it expedited. The Building Permit isn't the long lead item though when it comes to entitlement, the Site Development Permit is. Right now in Austin those are taking anywhere between 12-18 months.

That's just Austin though, but most places are similar.

It sounds like the OP is asking about approvals factoring in variance considerations. What were you allowed to build as-of-right vs. what you ultimately received approvals for that only took 45 days?

Array
Oct 10, 2021 - 4:18pm

We are doing an apartment development with 31 units about 30mill GDV. its in a non major market around lower density residential. We have a pretty active community when it comes to development, have heard even the government office celebrates when they reject any new development applications. We are in Australia so terminology is pretty different.

We have been going around in circles and local council keeps saying change this and change that. Then we go and make the changes and then resubmit only for them to make us change something else that they could have just made us change in the beginning.

We are now getting a third party town planner to write a report stating exactly what's required for approval and are in the process on going to court with the development.

This is probably the 3rd year of doing this planning and it's fucking with my budgets. However still profitable as we bough way under our residual value and margin is around the 30% mark.

Appreciate the comments. How much does it cost to get a da expedited? Wondering if you can do that in Australia.

Just seems to be taking way too long and have been screwed around for years now.

Is our architect just basically really shit? Private Town planning consultant came back with a lot of stuff wrong with the building. So thinking it's the architect that has done the design not to code exactly.

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Oct 10, 2021 - 6:02pm

This differs hugely country by country and even within countries unless timelines are set at a national level so it's not possible to give an answer on timelines, it could be wildly out compared to Australia. 
 

I would have expected a town planner to be engaged at the outset of the project but this may differ in Australia vs. the likes of the UK / Ireland where they're an integral part of the professional team. Are they only being brought in for the legal challenge or to advise on your planning application? How qualified is your architect for the role, i.e. have they done developments of this type and scale before? Are you / one of your colleagues sufficiently knowledge of design / planning requirements that you can make sure they're on track / hitting the brief?

Oct 12, 2021 - 5:13pm

Architect and local council said 6 months tops. Local planning authorities... we had a meeting with them and they said our plans looks great and that they'd approve them straight away. Then we submitted them and threw them back at us requesting changes and then repeated this process over and over for 2 years.

Architect is very qualified and has done plenty of stuff of this type and size and scale. However he has a big book of work for government contracts with the local planning authorities, so I don't know if he's playing us or something.

Architect keeps claiming the plans are perfect and to the code, however based on the town planners recommendations he's not even close. I believe we should have had a town planner on right from the beginning working with the architect to come up with the first submission. Though I just though the architect would know how to design to code especially since he's super respected in this area and has done heaps of apartments........

Oct 12, 2021 - 8:06pm

Speaking from the GTA the entitlement period is typically 2 years + for >100 units. More or less depending on if you need both a zoning amendment and site plan approval, or just site plan. If the former, it could take 4+ years. Just had a deal come across my desk for a 1,130 unit condo tower that had been in entitlement for almost 5 years and just recieved SPA.

Entitlement periods outside the typical urban cores varies heavily from my experience. If you are planning  a development in a tertiary market, need zoning etc., the city might be far more amenable and helpful to encourage economic development and investment i.e. there isn't all that much going. I've seen city planners drop everything to get developer approvals  in some of these relatively untapped areas to get them on the map.

Oct 12, 2021 - 10:11pm

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