You’re moving toward starting a new business, and you find the ideal commercial property. It will fit your needs, it’s in a great location, and the price fits your budget.
Before you buy, make sure that you can actually use that property as intended. You must know what zone of use it is in and how that impacts your ability to operate. If the zone does not fit, you may need to get a variance.
The three main zones for real estate use
To start with, you need to know that properties are divided into three main zones of use: Residential, commercial, and industrial. You can’t run a commercial business out of a residential zone, for instance.
But things can get more precise than that. Within commercial zones, you can find more specific zones for retail stores, construction companies, gyms and recreational centers, and much more. Do not assume that a commercial zone means that any commercial venture can operate there. You need to know exactly what is allowed so that you can see if your business fits within the zone’s limitations.
Asking for a variance
What if your company doesn’t fit? You may be able to ask for a zoning variance. The zone itself stays the same. Your specific property, though, if given a variance, can be used in a way that would otherwise violate that zone’s limitations. Maybe you want to put a gym in an area with only retail stores, for instance. This has to get approved, and you don’t want to start development until it is.
Navigating this process can be difficult, so be sure you know exactly what steps to take to obtain a variance when you need it. Working with a real estate attorney can help.