Parking/land ratios crucial to commercial developments

parkinglotThe parking allocation provided for in a development requires proper planning. A very useable site can be rendered dysfunctional if not properly considered. It is also important to understand what the applicable zoning bylaw states for the intended use.

What’s the big deal?

I frequently receive calls from would-be tenants who do not understand why their use does not fit well within a particular site. Retail sites, for example, can commonly become overcrowded with the high parking demands of food user clientele. I explain that a landlord cannot afford to sacrifice the parking of existing tenancies to satisfy leasing vacant space.

Most national retailers will look for five stalls per 1,000 sq. ft., and some will ask for more. It is important to be sure going forward that you maintain whatever has been agreed to in the lease. A retail property is typically designed with a 30 per cent building to land ratio.

Suburban vs. Downtown

The amount of parking an office user may acquire within a lease is highly dependent upon the area they choose to do business.

We see some office zoning in downtown Saskatoon which does not require any parking on site. Downtown office dwellers could also see buildings with parking of two stalls per 1,000 sq.ft. That number potentially goes up to three or four per 1,000 sq.ft. in suburban offices.


Industrial uses are most often concerned with compounds more than parking stalls. Their users need to park large machinery or store materials outdoors.  This requires a standard footprint of dirt to go with their building.

Most industrial users are going to require a 25-30 per cent building to land ratio; though it can be highly user specific.

Developers will try to maximize industrial designs to allow for the largest amount of building they can construct while still creating a site that can be attractive to as many users as possible. This will make their property easier to lease which in turn creates a solid investment should they want to sell.

My site is already messed up

Then maybe it’s time to consider redevelopment. You may be able to remove a portion of the building to accommodate more parking. You may recover the loss of rent on that square footage by attracting a better paying tenant.

Some thoughtful planning and proper land to building ratios can change the dynamics of a property with chronic vacancy or unhappy tenants. Parking can be a nightmare for not just customers, but staff as well when it’s oversubscribed.

I can think of a few Saskatoon commercial real estate sites I avoid just for this reason, how about you?

Posted by Kelly Macsymic







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