City of Phoenix cuts red tape to spur renovations, adaptive reuse

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — Green is in.  So is encouraging new business.  Through its adaptive reuse program, Phoenix’s Development Services Department is recognizing that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to creating new business opportunities.  The year-old program, which streamlines the process of modifying older buildings for new business uses, recently won a first-place Crescordia Award in this year’s Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Awards.

Denée McKinley, a Development Services administrator, said the program assists business owners who want to bring new life to historic or established areas of the city.  Of the approximately 30 businesses that started the process, 17 have opened their doors, including the Tuck Shop.  The program applies to buildings smaller than 5,000 square feet and older than 25 years but may expand to buildings up to 10,000 square feet and built prior to 2000.

Before the program, it was too expensive for small-business owners to meet current city-code requirements, McKinley said.  She said the office heard time and again that it was less expensive to tear a building down and build new than update a historic building.  “We wanted to keep the character of the neighborhoods,” McKinley said.  “We didn’t want to lose that.”

Applicants must meet zoning, safety and quality development requirements, but the city speeds up the processing, saving applicants time and money.  “We’ve looked at it more of a remodel than a change of use,” McKinley said.  “The fire department did a code change that if it’s 1,500 square feet or less and met access criteria, they didn’t have to put in sprinklers.  Most of our customers found that to be a very big help to them financially.”  [Note: To read the full article, visit City of Phoenix cuts red tape to spur renovations, adaptive reuse.]

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