The Race to Richmond: A Q&A With Ryan Yauger, PE

11 January, 2021

Ryan Yauger, PE, Branch Manager at Bohler in Richmond

Ryan Yauger, PE, Branch Manager of Bohler’s Richmond, Virginia office, was born and raised here. He has fond memories of summers spent fishing and boating on the Chesapeake Bay. Having witnessed firsthand the impact of floods and hurricanes that hit the Bay area growing up and understanding the importance of holistic design and intentional growth, he felt moved to take action by pursuing a career in land development.

Throughout his tenure at Bohler, Ryan has led various types of real estate development projects throughout the Richmond area, including shopping centers, expansion programs for national retailers, and, most recently, large-scale warehouse, distribution, and data centers.

With the influx of industrial development taking place throughout Central Virginia, Ryan and his team are helping owners and developers navigate the area’s complex entitlement process and leverage fast-track programs. Drawing from his strong network of industry relationships, Ryan connects developers with end-users and unlisted real estate opportunities throughout the City as well as in Henrico, Chesterfield, and Hanover counties.

We caught up with Ryan to talk about land development trends in Richmond, his advice for developers new to the area, and the opportunity to lead Bohler’s Richmond team.

How has COVID-19 affected land development throughout the greater Richmond area?

The City of Richmond, as well as Henrico, Chesterfield, and Hanover counties, has embraced Zoom meetings and generally adapted to a virtual environment. Most plan submissions are now digital or uploaded to an online system and reviews are conducted electronically. If meetings are held in person, they are limited to applicants and board members. As the situation continues to evolve, I anticipate these agencies and jurisdictions will continue to be accommodating and work with applicants and design professionals to keep projects moving forward.

What development trends in Richmond do you expect to continue in 2021?

Many industries are booming here, which will likely extend into 2021. Due to recent proffer reform in other parts of the state, residential development has exploded in the area over the last three or four years, and it’s now bringing commercial uses and self-storage with it.

We’ve also seen a significant uptick in warehouse, distribution, and data center development. This trend is attracting developers based in Northern Virginia, as well as other states and even countries to the area. With plenty of raw land available and accessible to major highway networks, an international airport, and the James River, Richmond is an ideal location for this type of development.

How is Bohler helping its clients act on the industrial trend?

We help owners and developers identify and act on opportunities to succeed in this growing market. That includes helping clients leverage jurisdictional resources like fast-track incentive programs and delivering creative and cost-effective stormwater management design solutions for large sites.

Our biggest impact is in providing real estate consulting services to help deals cross the finish line. We’ve built strong relationships with warehouse, distribution, and data center tenants that we use to make connections for developers. Drawing from our history working throughout the Greater Richmond area, we’re also able to connect developers and their brokers with unlisted sites that may be available.

What advice do you have for developers new to the Richmond area?

Engage a land development consultant who can guide you through the complex permitting process. It differs from other areas of Virginia in that some aspects of the design, such as landscaping and dry utility design, are not required until much later stages of the process. This can leave unknowns in a developer’s budget. It also can create risk by designing portions of the site after construction has already started.

When possible, I advise owners and developers to first meet with jurisdictions to get their buy-in. Then, design the entire project before starting construction, even items that are not required by the jurisdiction. This approach can bring greater clarity to the project, and often results in cohesive designs with more predictable budgets.

Bohler’s team is driven to empower the ambitious to become accomplished. How do you connect with this?

Our leadership team has always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit, which transcends to our staff. From early on in my career here, I saw that our employees were empowered to grow. I always felt in control of my future.

The opportunity to lead the newest office in Richmond is the epitome of empowerment. It’s brought me closer to my family in what has been a particularly challenging year, while also allowing me to realize my goal of impacting the region through successful land development.

Racing to Richmond?

We create opportunity through our knowledge of the local development processes and a forward-thinking approach.

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