The Power of Interactive Maps in Real Estate Development

How to present development activity to attract the best investors, entrepreneurs and people in general to your downtown.

By Starling Childs

In the bustling heart of any city lies its downtown area, a vibrant hub teeming with life, culture, and commerce. Amidst the hustle and bustle, a silent (and sometimes not-so-silent) symphony of development unfolds, shaping the skyline and the very essence of the urban landscape. Yet, for many, deciphering this symphony and understanding the intricate dance of real estate development can feel like navigating a labyrinth without a map.

Example of a Development Analysis of the Hudson Square Business Improvement District (BID) using Ginkgo.

Enter the transformative power of interactive maps showcasing real estate development activity. Interactive maps are more than just tools for data analysis. These maps can offer a source of truth and story telling about where, why and how a downtown is evolving. More importantly, a well managed map can inform opportunities to be part of the city building process.

The Problem for Most Downtowns

Finding information about development in a town or city usually involves stumbling upon scattered news articles with architectural renderings. These articles fail to convey the geographic context nor do they offer any sort of analysis of detailed project information, leaving readers without a clear understanding of the opportunities and site locations. And as the old maxim goes, without geography (and maps to understand it) we’re truly nowhere. As a result, to get a better idea of what is happening in these areas, you often need to physically go there and research it for yourself, which can be a lot to ask in this age of on-demand.

Moving Toward Progress

Imagine strolling through the virtual streets of your downtown district, armed with a digital compass that guides you through the dynamic landscape of development projects. With a few clicks, you unveil a mosaic of colorful pins and other map layers, each representing a unique venture, from towering skyscrapers to quaint boutiques. Interactive maps illustrate the story of growth and potential in vibrant detail as each interaction surfaces further insight.

Example of a Development Map for Downtown Long Island City (LIC) provided by the Long Island City Partnership

For Residents

For residents, such maps offer glimpses into the future while grounding them in the present. They provide a platform for community engagement, fostering dialogue and collaboration between stakeholders and decision-makers. Residents can voice concerns, share their vision, and actively shape their urban environment.

For Developers & Investors

Investors and developers alike find solace in the clarity and comprehensiveness of interactive maps. Real-time data on development pipelines, market trends, and regulations help them navigate opportunities confidently and precisely. ‍

"For real estate investors and developers, having access to clear and reliable information is essential for making informed investment decisions. Typically, understanding and monitoring submarket changes demands extensive resources. Interactive maps, however, offer instant insights into the ever-evolving dynamics of local supply and demand. These tools not only track the progress of development projects but also provide ground-level details such as new business openings, infrastructure enhancements, and streetscape changes—layers of data that are otherwise challenging to integrate." - Brian Hong | Chief Operating Officer, Twining Properties

For Government Agencies

Local governments and regulatory agencies benefit from the transparency and accountability that interactive maps bring to the table. By making real estate development activity accessible to the public, they foster trust, promote civic engagement, and streamline decision-making processes. Urban planners and policymakers harness the power of data-driven insights to craft strategies that balance growth with sustainability, and prosperity with equity. 

For Civic Organizations

Development hinges on the feasibility of improvements to local neighborhood conditions, often requiring a shift from NIMBY to YIMBY attitudes. Transparency and context are crucial for gauging local sentiment and fostering public support. Maps play a significant role at the neighborhood level, especially when local community organizations adopt these tools to turn fragmented anecdotal news updates into analytical dashboards designed for anyone to get a clear understanding of the opportunities on the ground around them. These maps facilitate connections and guide progress by bridging the gap between aspirations and achievements, turning abstract visions into tangible landmarks.

For an example, take a look at New Rochelle, NY, just north of New York City. The Local Development Corporation there has an example of a development map prominently located on their website to highlight downtown investment around the Metro North regional transit stop. While this map is a great example, these custom websites are often very expensive to develop, ranging from $10k or $20k all the way up to as much as $100k or more.

With Ginkgo, we strive to make developing these maps easy and accessible to any real estate company, government agency, or a non-profit civic org in towns or cities of all sizes. Here are some awesome examples of these maps developed using Ginkgo:

Downtown Baltimore

Downtown Reno

Long Island City

“The transformative impact of such readily available information on Long Island City (LIC) exemplifies a successful model that other cities can easily emulate using powerful, yet highly affordable tools like Ginkgo.” - Brian Hong | Chief Operating Officer, Twining Properties

Using Ginkgo, Long Island City Partnership takes this beyond purely a map of projects. The LIC team integrates their Ginkgo development data into various reporting tools, brochures and other resources used to provide a clear "Neighborhood Snapshot" to anyone looking for better insight into where, why, and how LIC is developing into the next great downtown.

LIC "Neighborhood Snapshot" powered by Ginkgo for the mapping and data analysis and using Looker Data Studio for added charts and visualizations.

"Ginkgo's mapping platform allows us to keep track of local development data comprehensively. With this support, we and our stakeholders can make informed decisions that contribute to long-term growth and enhance community resilience." - Charles Yu | Vice President, Long Island City Partnership

Let's leave off with some questions. Take a look at your downtown. How is it changing? How is your city or town tracking development and making sure that information about this activity is presented in a clear and engaging way? I’m willing to bet there’s room for improvement. There always is. And with so much at stake, can your city afford to wait and see what happens? We’d love to help your community control the narrative and take a proactive approach to city building together.

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