Beyond the Numbers with Heatmaps

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Get a new perspective of RVA

For anyone looking to develop a unique real estate strategy based on more than just a compilation of statistics, demographics, and the tried and true proforma, generating a visual representation of current specific property use types and concentrations is a powerful tool beyond the almighty spreadsheet. Fortunately, Google Maps has made this capability a reality with the prodigious volumes of mapping data they have assembled over the years. As real estate investors and developers all know, the alchemy of real estate success lies somewhere between the ironclad real estate analysis and the uncanny feeling that the warehouse down the street is going to be the next best brewery/apartment project/server farm/dance studio [fill in the blank] for the neighborhood– or, even better, is the inspiration for a new use that actually catalyzes and energizes new development.

Real estate developers and investors tend to spend hours combing through GIS portals, poring over real estate records, driving the streets, and knocking on neighborhood doors. In sizing up any opportunity, they are trying to get their arms around the unquantifiable, the undocumented, the unknown, and the latent potential. In real estate, getting a good handle on what direction a neighborhood is about to take next is often a commentary on highest and best use of the existing product.

So where is it going, Richmond?

Recognizing underutilized or underperforming real estate assets is a classic and generally reliable approach to successful real estate development, but there are additional qualitative data points when deciding if and when to pull the trigger on a new concept, and this requires the application of context to any opportunity. In the simplest terms, when evaluating a neighborhood’s trajectory, we want to get “the big picture” of the existing ecosystem. This depends on the relationship of two major factors– the composition of the existing product (mix) and the density/volume of uses.

To get at those answers (or hypotheses) in map form, there are some fairly basic questions to ask before embarking on a project:

  1. What uses are already in place?
  2. What uses are NOT already in place?
  3. Is there a market to support a change in or new use?
  4. How strong is your market?

In Richmond, we like to eat, drink, and exercise– preferably with a side of parking. But if you’re looking to figure how your next ground-breaking concept fits in with the Richmond market, here is a handy little tool…

Maps compliments of Inkling Intelligence







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