Public support for real estate development grew significantly during the pandemic, according to a survey by coUrbanize, a technology company that powers community engagement in development and planning.
The survey, the second in what will become an annual series, revealed notable shifts in sentiment between March of 2020 (the onset of the pandemic) and May/June of 2021 (the pandemic’s decline). Most of the shifts favored development, although many respondents raised concerns about overcrowding and affordable housing, even while decrying a lack of housing affordability.
Development viewpoints and priorities
The limited success of virtual public meetings
“Like so many things, people’s feelings about development clearly changed during the pandemic, and I view many of these changes as positive,” says Karin Brandt, CEO and founder of coUrbanize. “For example, more respondents recognize the economic impact and improved quality of life that development can bring to a neighborhood when done thoughtfully.”
She continues: “Despite the general positivity, however, the survey shows that NIMBYism around affordable housing and density exist even among proponents of developments, and indicates that public meetings are not the best way to address these concerns. I recommend that developers explore less-traditional methods of educating local communities while allaying concerns about issues like overcrowding and traffic. Technology empowers more people than ever before to participate in the process. The greater the participation, the greater the benefits to developers, municipalities, and the communities they serve.”
This year’s survey, which was conducted over a two-week period in May and June, garnered 1,087 responses from U.S. residents across a wide range of demographic categories. The previous survey took place during a two-week period in early March of 2020 and garnered 1,073 responses.
coUrbanize gives people a way to share their feedback and have a voice in a development or public planning process without having to go to a meeting – by simply posting a comment online or texting in their ideas – and having a two-way dialogue with the project team. More than 400 development and real estate teams have used coUrbanize to scale public outreach in a more inclusive way, have more productive conversations with the community, and ultimately build critical support for their projects. For more information, please visit www.courbanize.com.