Questions you as an Owner or a Broker, SHOULD be asking:

Your prospective buyer or tenant has a vision for the commercial property.  They have shared that vision with you.  So, how much parking will they need?  Are you recommending the right site for them?
A:  All commercial properties have the potential for a variety of uses, including professional office, medical, warehouse, manufacturing, restaurant, to name a few.  Most buildings are capable of combining one or more of some of those uses.  Confirm before the transaction, whether or not the prospective site will match the intended Owner/Tenant.

How do I research the parking requirements for my client?
A:  Consult with the Planning Agency having jurisdiction over the potential site.  You likely have already determined that your client’s intended use is a match for the site’s zoning restrictions.  (If not, stop here and go to my page on ZONING.)  All municipal agencies have a matrix for parking requirements, usually based on square footage for a given use.  Note typical examples that follow:

Offices - 4 cars/1000 s.f.  (Dense urban areas can drop to 1 car/1000 s.f.)
Medical - 5 cars/1000 s.f.
Restaurant - 10 cars/1000 s.f.  (NOTE: Includes sidewalk seating!)
Retail - 4 cars/1000 s.f.
Warehouse - 2 cars/1000 s.f.  (for the first 1000 feet, 1 car/1000 s.f. for the next 4000 feet…)

These are typical examples and may not apply to your potential site.  Proper vetting is required for every site.

Suppose we are looking at a shopping center with no assigned parking.  How do I verify that my parking will comply?
  Determine if the controlling municipality will require a parking study.  If so, SOA provides parking studies for project approval.  Be sure to check our page on Value Added Planning Consultation.

We are coming up short on parking.  Can I get a ‘variance’ of some kind?
A:  The common answer is ‘no’;  however, most agencies allow the formation of agreements between adjacent property Owners or in more dense urban areas, between Owners of properties non-adjacent, but within a reasonable walking distance of upwards of a quarter mile.  These agreements can be cumbersome or expensive, but it may be the difference between making or loosing a deal!  If you’re close to meeting the requirements but running a few points shy, check out parking agreements as another Value Added Planning Consultation offered with the help of SOA.

- Patrick McIlhenney, AIA

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