Along with the recession came the plunge of the job market. Companies collapsed under the combination of diminishing revenue and mounting debt, forcing many of them to close their doors for good. As a result, once used store fronts became vacant spaces, simply waiting for their next tenant to arrive. It’s something most Michigan residents have noticed in the last few years; and while the economy is rebounding and business is returning to many areas, zoning plans may be the reason why some derelict properties are having problems filling their vacancies.

That’s exactly the issue for the city of Coon Rapids in Minnesota this month, which recently proposed a change in both the zoning and land-use designation for a particular patch of land in the city. According to Mid America Real Estate, which proposed the change to the city’s planning commission, rezoning the land for general use would be a huge win for owners of the property as well as help boost the city’s economy with more businesses.

The city originally zoned the land back in 1987 as a planned unit development, which only authorized specific automobile-related businesses to be present in the auto mall.  Initially, there was a need for such businesses in the area, but as times changed, the property owner found it increasingly difficult to find tenants to fill the vacant store fronts.  In the years since the recession though, Mid America Real Estate says that its seen an increase in interest from general retailers who want to open up shop in the auto mall but are finding it impossible because of current zoning restrictions.  The real estate firm explains that if the city agrees to change the zoning for the property to allow these other businesses, the mall will stop being just an empty commercial property.

The proposed changes to the zoning ordinances have already been approved by the council committee.  At present time, they are waiting on word from the city council for approval.

Source: ABC Newspapers, “Zoning changes proposed for Coon Rapids auto mall,” Peter Bodley, June 13, 2013

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