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commercial buildings

NoVA

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
The following situation has occurred in my city:

Someone has submitted plans to divide a vacant 'big-box' building into several retail tenants in a mini-mall atmosphere. City Council is concerned that the new tenants could generate more traffic and noise than the previous occupant. I've been directed to find out how other localities are dealing with this problem. Are there places that require City Council approval of a special use permit when a large building is carved into multiple tenants? If so, I would like to hear from you and get a copy of your ordinance. Thanks.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
Our review would be architectural approval for the site plan, facade and signage changes.

Our ordinance requires the same parking level for all retail spaces, so we wouldn't be that concerned. Unless the new user is converting a significant square footage of storage/warehousing in the rear of the building to new retail space. We would also assume similar traffic generation rates (in fact, we assume many big box retailers generate more traffic than a strip mall of smaller shops)

Good Luck! Sounds like an interesting problem.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
I don't know of any codes that specifically require a special permit to turn in a big box retail store into a mini-mall. It's retail to retail, so that level of specificity isn't usually contained in the average ordinance. And if it isn't really changing the use, do you really need a different permit?

That being said, the City of Vancouver, WA did have an all-encompassing permit that is triggered upon certain impacts (including increased traffic). Typically a tenant improvement would be a ministerial application (over the counter). But a tenant improvement can be bumped up to the next level (minor permit... includes an appeal period, notification, etc.) if the development/improvement results in:

(1) Increase in lot coverage by more than 10% for residential developments;
(2) Result in an increase of more than 10% in required on-site parking, or an increase of more than 40 parking spaces;
(3) Result in an increase of more than 10% in height of structures, as defined by this Title;
(4) Modify more than 25% of the facade;
(5) Result in the change in the location of access ways to frontage roads where off-site traffic would be affected, or a change in on-site parking location closer to residences or residential property;
(6) Result in an increase in vehicular traffic to and from the site of more than 20 average daily trips, based on the latest edition of the International Transportation Engineer’ s (ITE) Trip Generation Manual or substantial evidence by a professional engineer licensed in the state of Washington with expertise in traffic engineering;
(7) Result in an increase in the gross floor area on a non-residential structure by more than 10% or 5,000 square feet, whichever is greater;
(8) Require a SEPA determination;
(9) Cause a reduction in the area used for recreational facilities, landscaping and/or open space by more than 10%.

The applicable sections can be found here: http://www.ci.vancouver.wa.us/vmc/Title_20/00/index.html

The 20 ADT requirement was a *huge* hassle. Many changes in use would trigger the 20 ADT. You may want to up it to something more manageable.
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
Most places won't even address a reuse of a vacant building. You aren't going to be able to get a guage on traffic unless you know what is actually going in the "box" and even then the stores are subject to change when the lease is up.

If I were you, I'd just be thankful that the building is actually being put to use instead of left vacant, like they are around here. However, if it is reused in the manner in which I have seen these reused, you can expect very little traffic, from a Chinese Buffet, Dollar Store, Karate, a cheap clothing store, etc.
 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,195
Points
27
Our Walmart decided to build a superstore (surprise surprise) and left their orginal space vacant. It was the 'anchor' of an existing strip mall. It was vacant for about a year and then Elder Beerman went in.

We don't require any sort of special approval. In fact, we were glad to see an empty building right along the highway become occupied.

If the use is from retail to retail, I wouldn't think that there would be much of an increase in traffic and/or noise. And, like BKM mentioned, our parking requirements are the same, so that wasn't a concern.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
First Mike is right, I think this is a thank your lucky stars kinda thing,

I can't imagine that breaking up the building will result in more traffic. Its is likely there will be less.

No examples to point to though.

Would it be broken into a mini-indoor mall? Must be because the the walmart is way too deepto bust into street entry strip retail.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
Here we would review the site plan modifications and the uses to determine parking. If all the tenant spaces were not filled, we would put a condition on it that all future tenants are subject to review by staff and/or plan commission to determine if the use and parking are ok.

At a previous job, they would have to come in for a change of use from single-tenant to multi-tenant.
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
31
We split our retailing parking requirements. Sale of "bulk" items such as furniture need half the spaces of general retailing. Other than that, I agree that a mini mall affair generates less demand that the typical big box. Our former WalMart, now a Dollar General and Hobby Lobby, has a 2/3 empty parking lot.
 

NoVA

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
Thanks

In most places that I've worked, folks would be happy to see anything go into a vacant space. Here, spaces don't remain vacant very long and demand for retail space is high. As a result, citizens are very particular about the kinds of businesses they want in the area and are very vocal when they dislike a proposed use. There has been a lot of discussion in this area about requiring a special use permit for new "big-box" stores and whenever exising commercial spaces are carved into smaller stores. I'd like to know if any localities have done this and, if so, what challenges they faced.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
just a question - but why in NoVa is the assumption still that everyone will arrive at this destination by car?

I deal with that in my work environment more often than i'd like and when i bring it up i get the "i know, i know but we have to do something."

I'm just waiting for the pat on the head and the "your a good kid - it'll be OK" I'm just trying to understand the mindset.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
In almost every commercial district in the US, everyone WILL arrive by car-except for the poor (including the low paid workers who do the actual work-and even they have older cars). Given the reality that many of these older commercial districts are located in pedestrian-hostile environments, (who wants to walk down a typical 1960s era commercial strip-even if it has sidewalks), few will walk or take transit.

We are trying to address this issue with new design guidelines that require stores to be closer to the street, better pedestrian connections to the sidewalk, cooperation with the bus service, bicycle facilities, etc. These guidelines will apply to new development, though, and may not help much in a retrofit situation like this one.
 
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