03 March 2007

Why would a developer want to do a charrette?

A charrette is not usually the first model that a developer has in mind when choosing a project process. Developers are often concerned that broad stakeholder inclusion may lead to a loss of project control and demands for unfeasible design solutions. This fear is often based upon their experience with collaborative processes that waste time and bring poor results, some of which use the name charrette.A NCI charrette is designed to protect the project sponsor’s position, whether the sponsor is a developer or public agency, by guarding against commandeering of the project by any one person or group. The NCI Charrette System process and charrette are focused on project feasibility from the very beginning. An agreed upon set of Objectives, Measures and Strategies keep the project on the feasibility track throughout the process (see The Charrette Handbook, p.34). Here are three top reasons why a developer may choose to use a charrette.

The NCI Charrette System reduces costly rework
Mark Farrar, developer for the Pleasant Hill BART Station area, says, “The charrette was a great investment. It saved us considerable money in our entitlement process.” The NCI Charrette System assures that all the viewpoints are present at major decision points. This way the project design is continually checked for feasibility. This approach serves to reduce rework, one of the major causes of cost overrun.

The charrette can be a great marketing event
Some developers have actually experienced a surge of pre-sales following a charrette. It is not uncommon for people to approach a developer the evening of the final presentation and ask how they can get on a list for purchasing a unit. The charrette is an attractive story for the press and when handled properly can result in a good deal of positive press for a project.

The charrette can make a developer the “good guy”
Developers who work in regions that are politically difficult gain support through charrettes. They often succeed in becoming “the good guy” in the eye of the community, making it easier to get their project built. These developers may eventually become well known and sought after by places seeking quality development.
It is important to stress that developers should suspend their judgment of charrettes if it is based on experience with poorly run processes. Not all charrettes are equal and not every charrette is a NCI charrette. The NCI Charrette System is an advanced project management process aimed at greater efficiencies and excellent design through a coherent team approach.