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Thread: Estimating Land Area Needs

  1. #1

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    Estimating Land Area Needs

    I am looking for resources that have identified and estimated land area (size) needs for different nonresidential land use types. For example, how many square feet are needed per employee in the industrial sector? Likewise for commercial, retail, office etc... I have employment projections for different industrial sectors and would like to determine the land area needs for each sector. Thanks for any resources you can send my way.

    Michael Crane
    Economic and Policy Resources
    1-800-765-1377
    mdc@epr-economics.com

  2. #2
         
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    It's incomplete and you have to back into some answers, but the ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers) Publication "Trip Generation" now at 6th edition does give some averages. for instance average employment in Trip Generation data base is 0.9 employee per room. This from 19 studies. It's not much, but a start.

  3. #3
    maudit anglais
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    I would be extremely careful using the ITE manual for this purpose, and I'm not sure it actually does give figures for average employees per square foot. You could calculate it out, but it would be an average of an average. I don't know where this "0.9 employees per room" is coming from - how big is the room, and what is going on in it?

    We have used figures of 1 employee per 23 square metres (248 sq.ft.) for office uses, and 1 employee per 30 square metres (323 sq.ft.) for industrial uses. Unfortunately, the figures I have for retail and entertainment uses are average occupancy per person, and it is not broken down into employee and visitor.

  4. #4

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    There is a lot of variability in land use patterns depending on the history of a community and its particular set of industries. I once compared uses in a couple of similar-size trade center cities and found that the acreage devoted to a use could be different by magnitude. I think you will find some typical figures from old studies in Galion and Eisner's The Urban Pattern, but I would be very very cautious.

  5. #5

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    Lee, When you looked at "acreage devoted to a use" did you use zoning acreages or zoning dementional tables as your source? Or did you count employees per sqare feet by industry? I can understand variability by municipality if it is due to local regulations. However, it's hard to believe industries would vary that much and still remian competative. For example, Sears or Starbucks must know how many sqaure feet they use and how may employees it takes to run the place. Likewise for a grocer, wholesaler, the post office, high tech manufacturers, or who ever. Wow. It's hard to believe that there aren't industry standards out there? It seems like a text book urban planing subject. Is this a subject for further reseacrh.

    Moderator, how did you come up with your figures for industry and office. Was this a result of any research? Can I get a copy or find out more?

    Thanks for your help

    Michael Crane
    Economic and Policy Resources
    1-800-765-1377
    mdc@epr-economics.com

  6. #6

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    The study we did for the City of Idaho Falls -- which must have been roughly 198889 -- did not use zoning at all. It was based on actual use, as checked in the field and measured on aerial photos. We did not attempt to relate land use to employment. We asked around and found out that the City of Grand Island, NE, which was very similar to IF in both population and economic function (as a regional trade center) had just done a similar study. I can't keep numbers in my head over that many years, but I do recall being surprised. It probably, at least in part, had to do with jurisdictional boundaries, i.e. which city had annexed more of the city edge type industrial uses. I do not think there would be that much variability if you isolated retail and office uses, but the particular history of different cities has a profound influence on the space uses consume. Neither IF or GI has a particularly healthy CBD, for example, so I suspect retail consumes vast acreages in such cities as compared with places that have healthy downtowns. I also am reasonably sure that industry expands to fill the space it can afford, so that the relatively affordable land in rural trade centers probably leads to more space devoted to industry than it would where land is more valuable. This is all based on informed intuition, of course, not on extensive research.

  7. #7
    maudit anglais
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    As far as I know the figures for industrial and commercial employees/square foot came from some form of study undertaken by the City. The City undertakes an employment survey most years, which I believe is how they calculate the numbers...

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Try the building codes. Ask your building permit official for the info if you don't want to do the research.

    Building codes allow X square feet per occupant for occupancy calculations to determine the maximum number of people (employees and customers (visitors)) in a given occupancy type such as business, industrial, etc. Business owners will usually build what area they need to operate, and the workers fit.

    There is still the question of whether the business has set aside vacant land for future expansion, which could mess up your information base.

    We had a slightly different problem, which is what i originally thought you were asking: How do you know how much of your city land to set aside (zoning land use wise) for Industrial or other use types. That we still don't have a good handle on.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Yeah I would base it on occupancy permits ( you can get the info from your fire marshal).

  10. #10
    Commercial office designs usually use the rule of thumb of 250sq ft per employee, but I have seen plans calling for as little as 100sq ft per employee in call center environments. I beleive the trend of late is towards less square footage per employee.

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