Zoning Research Group
Retail Landscape Changing
Updated: Jun 25, 2018
July 3, 2017
K-Mart. JC Penney. Sears. Just some of the familiar names that were once dominate players in retail that have fallen victim to consumers changing tastes and major changes in the industry. Many point to Amazon and other online retailers as the primary reason for the decline of brick and mortar retailers. However, retail overall is still going strong in America. After all, Walmart continues to obliterate its competition and outsell Amazon and other online retailers with ease. The fact remains however that the shifts in retail have left many communities with large vacant storefronts with vast seas of empty parking lots.
Given the size of many of these retailers, communities across the country have worked to find ways to allow such vacant sites to be redeveloped. Examples range from allowing churches to occupy empty retail shells to having parking lots subdivided and sold off for development of fast food restaurants. City leaders are aware that allowing their vacant shopping centers and department stores to sit unused isn't a positive reflection of the communities they serve. Measures are often employed to help vacant shopping centers become active, productive commercial spaces again.
Zoning, the most powerful tool communities possess that controls the built environment, certainly stands to change in order to accommodate long standing vacant retail spaces and shopping centers. It is critical to understand what zoning requirements were in place for properties that have become vacant. While parking requirements may be relaxed, some communities place a maximum parking requirement on many of these older retail sites, often making them non-compliant. In an effort to accommodate more housing, some communities have mandated minimum density requirements on sites that are currently developed with vacant retailers, in hopes that they'll be redeveloped. While zoning varies greatly from city to city, one constant remains- should you have a long standing vacant shopping center or retailer, the zoning will likely change making your site non-conforming.
Understand your zoning on all your assets. Work with Zoning Research Group (ZRG) to obtain detailed zoning compliance reports, prepared by certified professionals.