One of the highest priority areas for further development (no pun intended) in the UrbanSim platform is the Pro Forma Model. It is the model that calculates estimated return on investment for new real estate development projects in the parcel version of UrbanSim. Over the next several months we will be undertaking a significant effort to redesign and re-engineer this component of UrbanSim to make it more robust and more flexible. We invite you to add your wish-list of functionality in this thread, and will give updates on its progress here as well. For those who want to get closer to the code, we will also be developing this on GitHub and we will provide links to the repository as this project progresses. We will be working collaboratively with key UrbanSim users who are interested in these improvements. The rough schedule is to complete a redesign and re-engineering of the model by end of April, 2017. It will continue to evolve and improve after that, but some UrbanSim users need to use this in production projects soon after this, so we are preparing to invest a substantial amount of our development effort at UrbanSim on this component.
The current version of the pro forma developer model is one of the newer components, and is decidedly less mature than other components. The code for it has also not received the same level of software engineering treatment that the other parts of UrbanSim have, in part because of the lack of maturity of this model component. The design of the current model is what is referred to as a simplified spot pro forma model, and has some known limitations. The most aggravating of these is its all-or-nothing development of large parcels, all at once. This is problematic for a number of reasons, and is the main initial problem motivating this redesign effort.
Here are a few key ideas that will shape the redesign of the Pro Forma model:
- New software engineering to make it cleaner and more modular, higher performant, more flexible.
- Unlike the current spot pro forma, iIt will be multi-period in its design, enabling larger projects to be scheduled over multiple periods, and incorporating time-dependent costs and revenue expectations to be reflected in the ROI calculations, which will more appropriately reflect the risk - reward profile of large projects.
- It will be re-evaluated in each period, enabling projects to be put on hold or cancelled if the market conditions for a project have deteriorated due to macro or local market area conditions, such as a surge of competing development in the pipeline that adversely impacts expectations on absorption of the project.
- Methods to speed up the search over feasible project configurations, and make this search 'smarter'.
- Uncertainty analysis will be added using Monte Carlo Simulation to provide a distribution of results rather than a single estimate.
- Market analysis to reflect initial phases of assessment of market feasibility within local market areas will be introduced as part of the real estate development model flow.
- Capacity to evaluate trade-offs such as increasing density bonuses to offset inclusionary zoning requirements and their effect on project feasibility.
- It will enable the analysis to run at different levels of detail for site-level detailed analysis, to master-planning scale, to full citywide and regional scale analysis.
- 3D design and visualization of site-level projects is in the roadmap once the regional and citywide scale version is completed.
- We will also be exploring ways to make the improved pro forma model usable in a more simplified way in the block and zone versions of UrbanSim for users who are not using a parcel version.
So let us know: what have we missed in the above goals for the new implementation?