AU MA Social Media

A class blog about social media.

OpportunitySpace Aims to Make Municipal Development Social

Posted by Ben Gregson on August 6, 2014

OpportunitySpace, a start-up developed by Harvard students Cristina Garmendia and Alexander Kapur that is nearing the end of its time incubating in the Harvard Innovation Lab, is trying to help small municipalities market their real-estate portfolios, particularly their less-desirable locations that tend to sit stagnant. These locations prevent the municipality from benefiting from the land, business are prevented from developing and citizens and generally left with eyesores of real estate.

OpportunitySpace creates a public database of these properties that includes size, value, delinquent taxes and geographical location. The social aspect of OpportunitySpace is that it opens up the development market to many more individuals. Only a handful of people in any given area know how to effectively deal with a municipality and benefit from developing in the city. This service opens up the competition to small businesses and individuals who have the resources and can use this site, but don’t necessarily know how to deal with the government. This also creates much more transparency about what the location is, who is buying it and for how much.

The site also helps cities by offering their service at a fairly small fee, with most of the money coming from the private sector. Similar tools that exist now, such as CoStar and LoopNet, are very expensive for small municipalities. This can be another huge barrier that leads to these locations being useless for even longer

Municipal development is a fairly shady business, and a movement to bring development power back towards the community, and with much more transparency, is a good movement in my book. Keep watching OpportunitySpace as it gets rolled out to more municipalities over the next few months.

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