The Making of an Alternative Development | The REAL how to series! #1

The Making of an Alternative Development | The REAL how to series! #1

Title: The Making of an Alternative Development | The REAL how to series! #1

Company: Radify Development URL:   

It all starts with…LAND!  It’s the dirt your business and alternative development’s foundation will be built on….



Because land is at the center of the alternative development, there’s a lot to consider around this topic.

Some of the major land considerations we face in developing our projects include: Environmental impact, geographic necessity, accessablity and existing cultural climate. But the list goes on. It can seem almost endless, Even when we have a good idea of what we need from a property to execute our desired business models.  

There is no way for me to dive into the intricate details of all of these challenges in one post without my eyes starting to bleed, so I’m making this a series of which this is the first installment.

We’ll start with a case study of one of our own projects, making for a killer read. Added bonus, if you don’t already know what projects Radify is working on, you’ll get a better idea of how we might  help you with your alternative-development project.

First, I want to be transparent with you about something: Looking at an alternative development case study from the point of completion dramatically oversimplifies what it actually took to go from vision to operational. The dream versus reality….sigh.

Chances are, you’ve been down this road before, possibly even by listening to the Radify Development podcast. It goes something like this:

“It seemed like there was just something missing and that we could do it a better way, so we started looking for some property, found this place, struggled to raise the money to pull it together but got super fortunate in landing and partnering with some awesome investors, pulled it off (barely), and business is kicking along as we get it more and more dialed in.”  

I can’t say how many times I’ve heard various versions of this…

While it’s all accurate and totally inspiring, it doesn’t capture the entire experience. Hardly!

It doesn’t capture the endless chamber of commerce meetings, the multiple failed offers, how you got as far as you did before you almost lost it, or the mystical investor who suddenly showed up and saved your ass (everybody has one of those, right?!).

The best way I can share the intricacies and complexities of making an alternative development project happen and show the tenacity needed to navigate land acquisition is through a case study of my own.

Enter starting a surf campground in Washington!

First, if you aren’t familiar with the term “off market deal” you’re about to experience what that is and how a person might go about securing one..

In the alternative development world, there are developers who have already navigated an off-market deal and those who will. In this space, our space, you don’t just hop on the MLS (multiple listing service) and BAM! find exactly what you need. …

“Build-ready land for your backcountry ski mecca for sale, owner financing available!”  – GET REAL!

My wife and I were about two years into the process of acquiring our property for our current alternative development. Yes, you read that right – two years in (and we’re still going through it).

In that time, we’d established the endurance needed to pull these types of projects off. We’d been attending chamber meetings and talking to every property owner in town who had a place that just might work to realize our vision. We were also both in school. I had just quit my job to focus on my own consulting company and development projects full time.

As you’re likely starting to piece together, we hadn’t even gotten to the “found this place” part in the story and we were already in deep.

During the process of making offers and our ongoing real estate search, we’d been slowly working on the deal that would ultimately end up prevailing, it is funny how things work out this way sometimes.

You see, this was our land acquisition and it was, and continues to be, the biggest bottleneck in the whole project vision.

I’ve learned that you don’t just magically find property and easily make it yours.. You have to commit. You have to hunt for it and leave no rock unturned.

We visited every door/property within our business model radius that would even possibly meet our needs. We knocked if there was a building to knock on, or, looked up public records when there wasn’t. We amassed the exact details and owner info of each property.

This research was combined with an ongoing networking effort through The Chamber of Commerce, Surf Rider Foundation, state and local governments, potential business partners, the SBA as well as local realtors to ensure we knew everything we could about how things were moving on the real estate, development, and recreation fronts within our market.

It was from this process that our list was built, this is where we started cold calling (yes with a phone) every property that was a match to our criteria.

This generated some leads but many more dead-ends. But we kept at it and our list shortened and refined itself.  We learned a lot about our parameters through this process, including utility availability, zoning, and financing. That was invaluable as each one of these topics is a major part of a successful process (all of which will be covering in more depth in future blog posts).  

And so begins our narrative on finding the right land! Hopefully this provides some helpful insight and reality to the process. Let our story give you more information to inspire your project!  It’s as applicable to your first property as it is to your fifth… If this is something interesting to you, or you are trying to figure out how to approach your search, reach out to us. I’d love hear about your concept, find out where you are in the process, and see if there is anywhere I can lend a hand!  

For the next posts in this series  we work our way through the procurement process, or at least one version of it. Keep an eye out!

Let me know what you think about this topic.  Share your opinion and follow along @RadifyDev on Twitter and Instagram as well as on FB.

Need help #makingrad happen in your life?  E-mail me at  Just want more rad content check out the podcast and sign up for our newsletter.  


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