Underutilized properties are costing the Seattle area $35.9 billion, according to data from a new startup using big data to help maximize city space.
CityBldr, a Seattle startup that is launching its latest product today, examined every property in King County to find the redevelopment potential in the area. The company looks at about 15 sources, analyzing data on zoning areas, tax history and demographic data, to determine how plots of land can be improved to maximize their potential.
“CityBldr’s goal is to create smart cities,” said CEO and co-founder Bryan Copley. “We can use artificial intelligence paired with empathy and create happy, functional, sustainable communities.”
At the outset, CityBldr is focused on improving housing supply to better match demand. The company is working with housing developers, real estate investors and housing development authorities to analyze properties for potential improvements.
Copley is hoping to help Seattle avoid some of the problems San Francisco has seen with its tech boom and the resulting housing shortage. As more people came to the city, started making money, and looked to reinvest that money partially into property, the housing supply quickly plummeted. The city didn’t act fast enough to create more supply, and now tensions are heating up between longtime residents and the new tech culture.
“That’s next for Seattle,” Copley said. “So we’ll have a couple choices. As a city, we’ll have a choice to follow in San Francisco’s footsteps and try to preserve the city exactly as it is today, which will mean that with less supply as more people move into the city because of job growth. … I’m not a fan of that.”
Instead, he wants to maximize supply by taking advantage of the potential in the land. By providing data on how land is being used currently, and looking at the maximum potential for that land, CityBldr allows developers to see where they can invest to make the most profit, and the most impact on the community.
“We need to create more supply, and while I don’t think that’s going to solve all the problems, I think it’s a great start,” he said.
But CityBldr isn’t just about housing. Down the line, Copley wants to work with industrial developers and commercial real estate companies to find any potentially profitable land that isn’t being fully utilized yet.
CityBldr grew out of Copley’s previous endeavor, Everyhome, which lets homebuyers puts offers on homes not yet on the market.
“CityBldr emerged as a result of some of our learnings,” he said. “We looked at user analytics and found that the power users for Everyhome were not consumers; they were commercial or enterprise investors.”
The new project, which Copley co-founded with CTO Devyn Cairns and head designer Brent van Wieringen, is becoming the new focus for the team, but Everyhome will still exist as a product under CityBldr.
Users pay between $500 and $8,500 per month for the CityBldr service, but there is a free version that allow users to sort properties by lot size or zoning type and see other important information CityBldr has collected all in one place.
The new company already has about $1 million in funding from a range of angel investors, including a number of people in the commercial real estate industry. CityBldr has eight full-time employees, along with a few part-time data scientists.
CityBldr is live today in King County, but plans to enter the San Francisco market in a couple weeks. Later this year, the tool will launch in L.A., followed by Austin and Boston.