2011 September Festivals, Holiday Sales, Food Carts May Help Business District
Reach "Critical Mass" Faster
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FLEXIBLE APPROACH TO ZONING FOR TEMPORARY USES CAN PAVE THE PATH TO MORE PERMANENT SUCCESS

Communities looking to jumpstart economic vitality in key districts may want to take a more flexible approach to zoning when considering temporary uses-like holiday tree lots, festivals, sidewalk sales and increasingly popular food carts.

McKenna Associates has seen a number of communities spark wider and more permanent economic vitality with temporary uses that have the potential to bring a burst of foot traffic and community interest to a key district.

"In many cases these little micro businesses that pop up for a season or even less attract enough extra visitors and dollars to create that 'critical mass' of excitement and activity that tips the district into economic vitality" said Senior Principal Planner Amy Chesnut, AICP. "Food carts, coffee stands, tree lots, and festivals can all be great tools for stoking the fires of a commercial district that has grown cold but has the potential to get hot."

While communities must take care not to relax zoning requirements to the point that community standards are compromised, in most cases, the temporary nature of these businesses ensure long term zoning goals will not be affected. By allowing temporary uses, however, communities may achieve other goals, like encouraging entrepreneurialism and lowering the cost of starting a local business and creating spin-off business for permanent stores.

To determine whether temporary business uses make sense for your commercial district or to get more ideas about how to spark economic vitality, contact your McKenna planner or Amy Chesnut at achesnut@mcka.com or 888.226.4326 or email us at info@mcka.com.