Site To Do Business

Layers of Understanding

Building customized maps based on zoning, development projects, and other variables can help deepen an understanding of an area.

While data has become an essential aspect of site exploration and site selection in commercial real estate, raw facts and figures are hardly capable of helping improve decision-making and analysis. CRE professionals benefit from a presentation of data in a way that is easily understood and communicated to clients and colleagues.

MapSite is one tool in the Site To Do Business suite of offerings that can easily and effectively package complex data in intuitive and accessible ways. It’s also built on Esri’s ArcGIS online software platform, which allows users to create dashboards, mobile applications, and more.

“There have been a lot of enhancements to Site To Do Business recently,” says Eric Pollard, commercial sector lead, consumer goods & services for Esri. “One of those is the MapSite Workflow, which allows you to make market maps more easily with fewer clicks and allows you to export and share.”

Within the workflow, users are able to select a series of nationwide variables — some are local, like parcels within a municipality, while others are much broader, like adjusting for income in areas across the country. MapSite also allows users to add multiple layers at once.

Building Smart

As much as any other business, commercial real estate thrives on the axiom that knowledge is power. In terms of finding the ideal location for an office, restaurant, warehouse, or any other asset, decision-making is improved with more information. For MapSite, that means continuing to build a growing index of up-to-date, real-time data on a local scale.


The MapSite tool allows users to project hex pins for median household income over different areas, while als mapping major building projects.

“This amount of data is going to increase over time,” Pollard says. “We have a series of municipalities, cities, and metros that are populated already. The CCIM Technology team is currently working to add more and more.”

To see this function in practice, let’s look at a case study on Bellevue, Wash., a city to the east of Seattle across Lake Washington. If you were curious about very local issues in the area, you could use MapSite to display major building projects and permits as layers on the interactive map. The permits, for example, show you a host of attributes about the business, including live links and further information about a particular business on a particular street in an area that may be well suited for a potential deal.

“Once you have a map that you’re happy with, what can you do with it?” says Pollard. “Well, you can create a PDF or even share this map to your GIS, which makes a live digital copy of the map that allows you to edit further by adding labels, changing colors, and personalizing the map.”


Detailed information from municipalities puts dynamic, real-world informatio at your fingertips for thousands of locations.

You can also add more information, such as the nationwide hex pins for income. In this example, you could see the major building projects along with 1-, 4-, and 16-mile hex pins for median household income. Users can also manually adjust the filters with the results shaded over the Bellevue map with the building projects.

The dynamic mapping functions are a key tool for CRE professionals who are operating in a marketplace that is constantly changing.

“Within the MapSite functionality, the interface is actually pulling from live GIS layers from all the municipalities, typically counties, across the U.S.,” Pollard says. “At any point in time, the information available to you is as up to date as that county GIS system. In our experience, the more urban, more well-known metros are very up to date, while you may find some rural areas may have a bit of a lag, just because of available resources.”

The dynamic mapping functions are a key tool for CRE professionals who are operating in a marketplace that is constantly changing.

In some cases, such as the building projects in the Bellevue case study, a pin on the map will contain a creation date, which will help users understand how reactive a particular area is. Similarly, information related to zoning and future use of land is also updated from those municipalities.

For more on this topic, check out Site to Do Business for commercial real estate professionals. 

Nicholas Leider

Nicholas Leider is senior content editor for Commercial Investment Real Estate. Contact him at

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