Calgary looks to fill downtown storefronts by relaxing regulations
Council to discuss plan next month that would reduce barriers for prospective businesses
It's not just office towers with plenty of vacancies in downtown Calgary — there are dozens of storefronts sitting empty, too — and the city is looking at ways to make it easier for business owners to set up shop in the core.
Coun. Evan Woolley said the city could ease some of its regulations in order to streamline the process for prospective downtown merchants.
"We have obviously seen huge amounts of empty office space here and this is an opportunity for the real estate industry, as well as business owners, to take advantage of some relaxations to some rules that will allow them to save money and move faster," Woolley said.
Some of the possible changes, according to a city report, include:
- Suspending the need for a development permit for a change of use in an existing, approved building.
- Suspending parking requirements for changes of use in existing buildings.
- Exempting changes of use in existing buildings from the application of overarching policies.
- Exempting small additions or renovations to existing buildings from the need for a development permit.
Deana Haley with Calgary Economic Development said this could be another tool it can use to attract businesses to the city.
"Not only do we have modern and affordable real estate, but we have a process now that will make things easy for you to be able to set up, be operational faster and therefore be able to make money faster," she said.
The relaxations would apply, on a temporary basis, in what's been dubbed the "Centre City Enterprise District," which includes both downtown and the Beltline.
City council is set to discuss the proposal next month.
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With files from Scott Dippel