What Processes are Involved in Getting Building Permits for a Lifestyle Center?
The age of the indoor shopping mall may be over, but that doesn’t mean that consumers have moved away from their shopping, eating, working, and playing experiences. Lifestyle centers, or open-air commercial centers, are popping up more and more. With the rise of lifestyle centers, retailers and restaurants will be looking at obtaining building permits to get in on the action.
According to the International Councils of Shopping Centers (ICSC), lifestyle centers are “upscale national-chain specialty stores with dining and entertainment in an outdoor setting.” They are areas where workspaces, gyms, restaurants, retail stores, spas, and more are available in one open-air space. Lifestyle centers differ from traditional malls in that they are typically in more high-end areas, anchored by specialty retailers rather than department stores like Macy’s and Dillard’s.
Now that you understand what lifestyle centers are, let’s discuss what type of permits and which associated department reviews are typically involved in the process of developing them …
• Building Permits – Obtaining a building permit in a Lifestyle Center tends to be different than obtaining a building permit for an individual space. Stores must consider the center as a whole; they must coordinate with other buildings to ensure some form of architectural uniformity.
• Racking Permits – Because many retail stores require storage racks to keep extra product in the back-of-house, they will need to obtain a racking permit. Racking permits are required before installing any shelving over 5’9”. They are native to areas with significant seismic activity such as California and Oregon.
• MEP Permits – Clearances for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing permits will be required for retail spaces and restaurants at lifestyle centers. Mechanical permits pertain to any work such as heating, duct-work, or cooling. Electrical permits will encompass work like electrical wiring, lighting, and transformers. Finally, plumbing will pertain to any piping such as sinks, toilets, and drains.
• Title 24 Reviews – In the state of California, Title 24 reviews must be conducted by a city reviewer to certify that builders are compliant with energy efficiency standards. These standards ensure that builders use equipment and appliances that conserve electricity and natural gas.
• ADA Compliance – The American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that public accommodations and commercial facilities be accessible. While there are many specifications that go into ADA compliance, the general factors include offering wheel-chair accessible ramps, elevators, or lifts as well as providing large enough openings/doorways for wheelchair clearance.
• Health Department Review – Restaurants and food service operations are vital to lifestyle centers. Shoppers want to take a break and sit down for a coffee or a meal. Health department reviews by the Sanitation Department and Industrial Waste Departments will be required to make sure that the restaurant space is up to par with health standards.
• Fire Department Review – Fire Department reviews take into account egress (exit paths), fire alarms, sprinkler systems, high-piled storage, flammable materials, and more. Stores within lifestyle centers must adhere to all jurisdictional fire standards.
In addition to the factors above, there are conditional use permits, change of use permits, variances, easements, city council hearings, historical preservation, signage permits, and much more. This is a daunting list, but the good news is here: it doesn’t have to be! The best way to permit a lifestyle center is to get a team of experienced permit expediters on your side.
Permit Advisors can manage an entire lifestyle center permitting program for you. Our program includes kick-off meetings, weekly status reports, and final Ready-To-Issue (RTI) notifications that will reduce timelines, plan check fees, and enhance your bottom line.
About Permit Advisors: Permit Advisors Inc. is a complete permit, entitlement consulting, and expediting firm based out of Beverly Hills, Ca. We go beyond just submitting plans, as you may have experienced with previous expediters. We have established strong relationships with officials of many municipalities and have numerous time and cost saving strategies that we implement to efficiently complete projects. We aim to secure all permits as quickly as possible! We keep track of all the different aspects of the permitting process and make sure that the project is being given full attention by everyone on the team. We responsibly update clients and ensure that lines of communication are open between the Jurisdiction, the consultants and the client at all times. Contact us today for a consultation