Building a Commercial Project – Zoning

The very first step to take before building your new commercial project – and even before getting the permit – is to find out what your land is zoned for. If you haven’t made your purchase yet, it would be a great idea to check that first, before buying, to determine whether the building you envision can be built.

Building Area and Landscaping

Unlike residential zoning, commercial zoning is not as easy to figure out; in fact, a professional must be involved, since there is a variety of factors that comes into play. For instance, there are parking requirements to follow – for each type of building occupancy, there is a range of specifications (e.g. for a retail store, many more parking spaces are required than for an office). Serviceability of the lot (drainage, gas, firefighting requirements, electricity), as well as regulations for transportation and access to the site, must be taken into account. Legal aspects like reciprocal access rights are another detail to keep in mind.

Another piece of information is the setbacks – the distance between your future building, and the neighboring ones, as well as how close to the front and away from the back of the lot your project must be placed.

Nature – Can’t Live without it, Can’t Build with it!

While there is no minimal green areas requirement, as is the case with residential construction, project sustainability is a municipal requirement, as stipulated by the Regional Conservation Authority which regulates every site. As part of the site plan application, geography – any nearby streams, river beds, natural waterways, and floodplains – must be taken into consideration. In fact, if the lot is located on a floodplain, building might not even be allowed, or if it is, its square footage will be affected.

If there happens to be a ravine on your property, it can take anywhere from six months to a year for the city to approve construction – something to keep in mind when hoping for profits to come rolling in soon.

Landscaping, of course, is involved too, but it is the city government and conservation authorities that have a say in what gets to be cut down and planted.

Ready for the Second Step?

Once zoning matters are all sorted out, you are ready to consider financing. Read more about it in our next blog.

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