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Thread: Retail incubators

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Retail incubators

    Anybody have experience with a "retail incubator"? A private party wants to cut up a larger retail space to sublease spots out to retailer "start ups" along with providing business counseling and shared "support services".

    If so, how did you classify it for zoning purposes? Did you just consider it to be a collection of ordinary retail uses or did you impose some other use classification (or made it a conditional/special use)?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I'm curious to know the kind of retail being proposed and the nature of the site.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    That's part of the problem I'm dealing with...a moving target and/or an underdeveloped concept.

    The first proposed site was a vacant building in an office park ("Sorry, no retail permitted by zoning") now they're looking at other potential sites in the community.

    No definitive list of retailers yet but they've discussed jewelry, clothing and "gifts" as well as some that are more personal service than retail (e.g. nail salon).

    I fear it's not going to go over well with some sectors of the residents/business community.

    The only other experience I've had with this type of concept was over 20 years ago in an innercity neighborhood...it quickly turned into a flea market filled with t-shirt vendors and the purveyors of bootleg CD's and videos.

    Whatever decision I make has got to be defensible.

  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I say make sure any and all retail businesses to be incubated must be permitted in the underlying zoning district (either as-of-right or special/conditional use). This way you don't really have to justify anything. The code all ready permits it.

    Also make each and every new business get their own specific business license (if you require business licenses), so that you can double check zoning compliance.

    Don't over think this one. Over thinking it will certianly make it harder than it needs to be.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Retail incubators do not tend to function as typical incubators, as the tenants often remain for many years. Normally, the intent is to "graduate" tenants to regular space within a period of three years or so. Also, as you mention, there is a tendancy for some incubators to degenerate into flea markets. The best suggestion is to require them to have a solid business plan and lease agreement similar to a mall, dictating things like signage, merchandise, hours, etc.

    You may try contacting the National Business Incubator Association for some best practices. We may expect to see more of these kinds of projects as landlords explore any avenues for filling vacant space, especially in secondary locations.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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