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Cornell Real Estate Review

Abstract

The development process is defined by variables. A successful developer identifies, monitors, understands, and attempts to control these variables. Most development projects require the developer to be prepared to negotiate with any number of parties, and much of the time, the tie-up or acquisition of the property is only the first step in a long process. For many projects, the discretionary approval process at the local level, commonly called entitlement, is the major consumer of time and resources. It is through this very process, however, that value is created. Gaining an understanding of the legal aspects of land-use regulation in general— and entitlement in particular—can help developers effectively identify and manage risk. This paper provides an overview of the procedural and legal underpinnings of the entitlement process in order to illustrate the risks involved. Several techniques for creating value and mitigating risk, as applied through the approvals process, are also discussed.

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