Locating Your Business
Things to Consider When Locating Your Business
The first thing that we advise everyone is to reach out to the Community Development Department before signing a lease or purchase agreement or any other financial agreement. Too often, we have seen business owners sign a lease only to find a use is not allowable, or a particular unit or building requires much more in terms of necessary improvements than they expected. We are here to help identify issues ahead of time for you and hopefully save you time, money, and potential heartache as you open your Longwood business.
You may reach out to our Economic Development Manager Tom Krueger, who will be able to act as your liaison to help answer these questions. We highly recommend that you set up a Pre-Development Inquiry session with our review team to get the answers you need from Planning, Building, Fire, and Public Works all at one time.
To help get you started, we've created a list of things to consider when opening your business in Longwood.
The Community Development Department maintains a list of properties available for sale or lease in the form of an interactive map. The City's Economic Development Manager, Tom Krueger, is also available to provide even more detailed information about opportunities available in the city.
Land Use and Zoning
Each property in the City of Longwood is assigned a Future Land Use and Zoning category that affects the type of uses on a given site, as well as things like building height, how far back the building is set from the property line (setbacks), the amount of the lot that can be covered (impervious surface coverage), parking space requirements, and much more. The City's Planning staff is here to help you navigate the Development Code, but you can also review our Development standards and view a list of uses that have special regulations here.
Permitting and Building Code Requirements for Existing Buildings and Tenant Spaces
Locating in a unit within an existing shopping center or within an existing building means paying extra attention to the Florida Building Code and how it may impact your bottom line.
We highly recommend that you work with an engineer or architect to evaluate your selected site, but, our review team - including our Building Official, Phil Kersey - is here to help you identify those potential costs ahead of time and provide time and cost-saving tips. Some of the common issues that we recommend you pay close attention to include:
- Opening a business in a unit that was used previously as a similar use (for example, a new retail business in a space that was previously used as a retail/mercantile business) will likely lead to fewer needed improvements versus opening something like a restaurant, bar, hair salon, event or gathering space, or similar uses in what was previously a retail space.
- Some potential required improvements that are affected by the tenant space you select include:
- Lighting, ventilation, and the number and type of plumbing fixtures (including bathrooms and water fountains)
- The maximum number of occupants and exits, as well as the distance to safely exist the building in case of a fire
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements including the size and accessibility of bathrooms
- If you're locating in a multi-tenant center, the improvements needed in your unit will in some cases be impacted by the adjacent unit(s). For example, opening a new restaurant, bar, or gathering space adjacent to a unit that has been used as an office or retail space may mean additional costs for you in providing structural fire walls, a sprinkler system, or updated fire alarm system.
For more information, be sure to check out our Permitting and Inspections section.
Site Development and Redevelopment
If you're looking to build a new building on an undeveloped site, tear down an existing building to build a new building, change the use of an existing building in a way that dramatically impacts the traffic generation or other impacts, or complete a major addition to an existing building, you will want to consult with a civil engineer very early in your project scoping and schedule a Pre-Development Inquiry session with our team.
Some of the things you will want to consider include:
- Improvements to the stormwater management facilities on the site. The addition of impervious surface (buildings, concrete, asphalt, etc.) may result in the need for new or improved retention or detention areas to meet state standards for not only retaining water on site to prevent flooding, but also to meet standards for water quality as it discharges to the aquifer.
- How much parking will be needed for your business - both from a practical perspective and from a Development Code perspective.
- Whether site is large enough and suitable to meet all the requirements for stormwater management, parking, landscaping, access, and other requirements.