Visualize How Zoning Laws Apply To Specific Properties With This Miami Company's Software
In the same way that Zillow and Realtor.com made property listings available to the general public, not just Realtors and brokers, Miami-based Gridics is making zoning information widely available and easy to visualize.
Gridics' software pulls measurable values, such as allowed building heights or required setbacks, from city and county zoning laws, then pairs it with interactive 3D maps so that users can home in on specific properties and see what restrictions and characteristics apply, and what can be developed by right.
Gridics has been contracting with individual cities and towns that in turn make the software publicly available and free to use on their municipal websites, CEO Jason Doyle told Bisnow.
“A chasm exists between those measurable rules and how they apply to each individual parcel on the ground," Doyle said. "We’re democratizing this data, opening it up and making it easy to understand.”
Doyle said that while other software used internally by architects and developers for development scenario analysis may incorporate some of the same data, "there's no other company that's calculating parcel-specific zoning data at scale and making that a public-facing platform for citizens."
The software can help developers explore what they’re able to build, and help individual citizens get informed about what's permissible in their neighborhoods. It can also free up staff in zoning departments.
"The old way to determine how zoning applies to a specific property requires citizens and developers to read through the zoning text and try to figure out how the various rules apply to their property. Most give up and contact city staff," Doyle said earlier this year.
Using Gridics, at the click of a button, users can see how far a particular city or town has been built out or what's in the development pipeline. They can click on an individual property and see its development capacity and zoning attributes like density and floor-area ratio. They can visualize transit routes or do searches with certain parameters to find, for example, an industrial area in an opportunity zone where a 20-story building would be permitted. The software can show ownership, as well as sales and tax history, but not whether a property is for sale.
Gridics sells its platform to municipalities for about $20K to over $100K per year, depending on the size of the city and the complexity of the zoning. "New York City's zoning code is 4,000 pages," Doyle said. Those cities and towns then make it publicly available on their websites. They can pick and choose what data is made public.
So far, the software has been adopted by the cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach, Hollywood, Coral Gables, North Miami and Bal Harbour. Doyle said Gridics has calibrated its software for other major cities, even if it doesn't have partnerships there.
On Fort Lauderdale's website, Gridics' technology lets people see 3D models of proposed projects and the approval status of each with the local Development Review Committee. The village of Port Chester, New York, used Gridics software when it was considering changes to its zoning laws. Officials could input the proposed changes and preview how the city would grow if those were adopted. This year, Gridics is branching out to California, North Carolina, Arizona and Arkansas.
Because Gridics' mapping software can be customized to incorporate contextual geographic information system layers like energy usage, traffic patterns and flood zones, city leaders can use it to tackle zoning inequities, infrastructure bottlenecks, affordable housing and even climate change. Gridics announced on April 26 that it would be joining the United States Conference of Mayors Business Council, a nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more.
Gridics also sells products with deeper, custom analyses for the private sector. PropZone is a site selection tool that lets developers compare sites across multiple cities. Zone IQ provides 3D scenario analysis for architects and developers, letting them visualize what they can build on certain parcels, or how parcels might be combined to unlock zoning advantages.
Gridics' co-founders, Max Zabala and Felipe Azenha, met in the University of Miami's master's degree program for real estate development, Doyle said. The company now has about 15 employees.