Bock Development Group’s Tom Bock provides three strategies for engaging with the surrounding community.
Be accessible and responsive
To ensure transparency and build relationships with community members, an open, honest dialogue needs to take place. Developers should start a conversation and strengthen community relations early in the process by integrating themselves into the neighborhood and seeking input from local clubs and associations, religious groups, community leaders, and municipal government officials. This can be achieved by attending scheduled town hall meetings, introducing yourself door to door, and being responsive when questions arise. By taking the time to interact with local community members, developers can address concerns face to face, relay important project updates, and gather general feedback.
Interpersonal interactions also give developers an opportunity to gain new insight that can help shape a project and save time and money in the long run. For instance, community members may have strong feelings about the look and design of the project and how it fits into the neighborhood. If the aesthetic is too modern or the entrance is inconveniently located, a developer can make adjustments to appease area residents and better suit their needs. Community members appreciate accessibility and value in-person discussions with developers. It is in the project’s best interest to engage with current residents and start local relationships off on the right foot.
Incorporate design elements that engage with the community
Developers can incorporate a variety of design elements into a project that are inviting to the community, even if they are private features or amenities. For example, well-thought-out landscaping can turn a cold, barren plot of land into a warm space. Outdoor living spaces with lush gardens, trees, and greenery are a welcome addition to any neighborhood. Not only is new foliage visually pleasing, but it cleans the air and betters the environment. Developers can look beyond green space by enhancing sidewalks, lighting, and parking features. Simple improvements like replacing broken light fixtures, adding seating, incorporating handicap-accessible curb cuts, and repaving cracked sidewalk can benefit neighboring buildings, improve overall safety, and increase property value.
Minimize disturbances knowing they can’t be avoided
Construction can often be a source of noise, debris, and traffic. While it is impossible to completely avoid these negative side effects, developers can minimize disturbances. First and foremost, they must work within the confines of the city. The construction zone’s codes and regulations dictate hours of operation, approved noise decibels, and pollution control. Though they vary by location, the guidelines help streamline efforts, ensure safety for the crew and pedestrians, and reduce community disruptions. Working outside these confines can result in penalties, threaten a project’s existence, and endanger the community.
It goes without saying that construction sites must remain as clean as possible. Equipment should never obstruct walkways, trash needs to be properly discarded, and the site should be wet down regularly to control dust. Clean construction sites demonstrate professionalism and quality workmanship, which will boost a developer’s reputation within the community. Developers should also look to schedule deliveries outside the peak travel hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Delivery trucks often take up multiple lanes of traffic, causing delays and frustration. Avoid contributing to traffic jams and slowdowns by scheduling off-hour deliveries whenever possible.
As a developer, the quality of your work will only take you so far. Actively working to build and strengthen local relationships creates trust and respect among all parties. By interacting with locals, keeping the community in mind when designing your project, and minimizing disturbances, developers can leave lasting impressions as good neighbors within the community.