March 14, 2011
By: Reurbanist

After gaining an understanding of the environment in which the project sits, the next step is to determine the constraints which need to be accounted for. Constraints include physical attributes, market realities, and government regulations.

As a developer, government regulations such as rights-of-way, public space requirements, environmentally sensitive areas, parking requirements, set backs, site coverage, floor space ratios, maximum heights, and land use restrictions all play an important role in determining what is feasible on any given site.

A municipality must contend with the same issues but through a different perspective since it is ultimately the one imposing such restrictions. During a rezoning process, municipal planners may recognize the implications of these restrictions and wish to relax certain regulations. To do so, however, requires understanding as to why these restrictions are there in the first place. Is the district in a watershed at risk of flooding? Are local roads over capacity? Is there strong local opposition to increased heights and density?

In some cases, physical attributes and market realities might prevent a developer from even reaching the maximum buildable area allowed by government regulation. Retail developments in suburban Edmonton, for example, are restricted in size primarily from the high construction cost of building underground parking in relation to the future achievable rents. With 4-5 parking spaces needed per 1,000 f2 of retail (requirement from retailers), higher floor space ratios from municipal authorities have little impact on the actual built density. In these circumstances, both developers and municipalities are ultimately constrained by market forces out of their control.

Municipal planners and developers can agree on one thing the importance of the rezoning process being certain and predictable. Municipal constraints are generally flexible, but without a relatively clear understanding as to what can be expected from both ends, the negotiation process will be overly frustrating. At the end of the day, private sector forces must be able to price land parcels according to their future potential in order to start the redevelopment process. An ad hoc and unpredictable rezoning system can paralyze this process as the risks scare developers away. Every project is unique and a flexible negotiation process is important, but clear targets and objectives can help build transparency.

Better communication between both sides will pay off significantly over the long term. For a developer, getting municipal authorities on board for a rezoning requires the presentation of a convincing plan which is well researched and has demonstrable public good. Experienced planners should be retained to negotiate with the city and consult with the public through this process. The additional cost of taking this part of the process seriously is more than worth it on complex projects considering the risks involved in having a rezoning application rejected. The earlier municipalities and the public are consulted, the more they will feel a part of the project, and the greater the chance of securing support. Generally, municipalities welcome this process as it provides them the opportunity to voice issues and request provisions.

About Reurbanist
Reurbanist™ believes retail offers cities the best opportunity to recreate their urban fabric.

Developers, investors and governments around the world are recognizing how retail offers enormous opportunities. Retail is the glue which holds communities, neighbourhoods and mixed use developments together.
Recent Articles
Rethinking retail’s role in animating streets and public spaces

For decades, planners, urban designers, and policy makers have advocated for street-facing ground floor retail space as a means of animating streets and public spaces. Retail was in many ways the optimal use for achieving this activation due to its foot traffic generation and visual diversity created by storefront designs, lighting, and window transparency. Many […]

The Benefits of PokémonGo: Footfall, Draw & Leverage

Since the release of PokémonGo, there has been an influx of coverage in what many local business and retail centres are doing to capitalize on this increasingly popular game developed by Niantic and The Pokémon Company. The premise behind this game is to mimic the story and concept of the Pokémon franchise which is aptly […]

The Viability of Vertical Retail in Urban Environments

In the context of vertical shopping environments, a rule of thumb that is sometimes applied is that sales performance drops off by 50% for every floor above ground level. By the time you get to the third storey, you can expect only a fraction of the sales turnover. As a result the space is often not viable. When working […]

Food Lover's Market, Cape Town

To meet the evolving needs of workers and visitors in the core of Cape Town, a new food concept has been pioneered under the “Food Lover’s Market” label. The modern eatery concept brings together the best of an urban grocery store and food court within one beautifully designed facility. Importantly, centralized point-of-sale tills allow visitors […]

Reurbanist on Flickr
  • Istinye Park 5
  • Istinye Park 3
  • Istinye Park 7
  • Istinye Park 6
  • Istinye Park 9
  • Istinye Park 8
  • Istinye Park 2
  • Istinye Park 1
  • Istinye Park 4
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram