Three questions to answer when leasing retail space

Business Manager, Stuart Commercial Inc., Sales Associate, ICR Commercial Real Estate
  • Jun. 15, 2017

Leasing commercial retail space can vary by development but there are some fundamentals most tenants in this sector should take into consideration while shopping around.

There are key questions you need answers to when leasing retail space.

There are key questions you need answers to when leasing retail space. (Image courtesy ICP Commercial Real Estate)

Park it here

There are a number of items you can change about commercial space such as flooring, lighting, and wall colour.

One feature that can’t really be altered or improved upon, typically, is the parking lot. What you see is what you get.

I often have tenants ask me about designated parking, for example. While some landlords will offer it, there is often very little they can do to police it.

If you think a parking lot is not going to serve your retail customer’s needs, it’s probably a good idea to keep looking.

Something else to consider is the street access into the site. It’s worth evaluating what level of hassle customers may encounter trying to gain entry into and off the site.

Get up front

Retailers are a special breed of commercial tenants. Outside of needing higher parking requirements than many other commercial tenancies, they crave frontage.

Most retail spaces will be built shallower than a warehouse bay in depth and in an ideal world retail space has the maximum amount of windows at the front of a space.

Structurally, it can sometimes be an option to add windows, but it is a costly change to make. I suggest narrowing down the search to properties that will not require such costly changes.

Another point to consider is the opportunity for signage as it relates to frontage and street exposure. A narrow space may not offer much in the way of available outside signage in order to advertise your business appropriately.

In the zone

Tenants in any municipality must make sure their use is allowable in the area they’ve identified to set up shop.

A good portion of 8th St, for example, is B zoning which in Saskatoon allows most retail uses. That said, the small houses between Cumberland and Broadway are M=zoned which restricts retail use.

Spot rezoning for retail use does not happen often and is especially onerous to achieve. It’s probably not a good idea to bank on getting a rezone if you’re considering a site that has retail restrictions.

The best way to determine allowable uses in any zoning is to contact the City of Saskatoon directly with the civic address. A good agent will know the areas suited for retail use.


I am a gal of all trades and wear a few hats at my current job though nothing quite as esteemed as my 1996 Unity Western Days Rodeo Queen crowned…

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I am a gal of all trades and wear a few hats at my current job though nothing quite as esteemed as my 1996 Unity Western Days Rodeo Queen crowned…

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