Cynthia Culhane Lifelong Calgarian Serving Calgarians!!

Cynthia Culhane
REAL Broker
Calgary, AB
T2M 3Y7

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If there is one thing that typically seems confusing to Calgary commercial real estate clients – and especially the ones looking at business spaces for the first time – it’s the laws and regulations that surround the zoning process.
You probably already know that, in short, the zoning in a particular area or building dictates what kind of business or operations you can legally operate in that space. For instance, a property might be zoned as residential, industrial general, retail, and so on. Beyond that, however, figuring things out can get a little more complicated.
That’s because, within each zone, there are two types of operations: permitted and discretionary. Knowing the difference between the two, and what they mean for your commercial lease or purchase, can be very important. For that reason, I’ve included three tips you should keep in mind below.
Permitted uses are the ones you don’t have to worry about. Things that are included in permitted uses are the ones you don’t have to ask anyone about. For example, if a particular location is zoned for “retail” and you operate a gift shop, then you’re free to get started without any restrictions.
Discretionary uses are trickier. Running the type of business that isn’t necessarily included in the zone, or performing an operation that wouldn’t necessarily be normal to that type of business, indicates a “discretionary use.” These can be tougher to navigate, as they require special approval from the Calgary zoning board beforehand.
Getting zonal approval can take time. Applying for permission to operate under discretionary uses begins a process that can take up to a few months, and includes a review of the area, a look at the availability of things like streets and utilities, and even making contact with your commercial neighbors to see if they object. It’s not impossible to get approval for discretionary uses, but don’t count on your business getting up and running right away, either.

There is a lot more to understanding zoning when it comes to commercial real estate in Calgary, of course, but the best thing to do if you have specific questions isn’t to dig deep into the regulations – it’s to get a great Calgary commercial realtor to help you out. So, if you want to know what you can do in the space, or get help finding the right commercial property for you, contact my office today.


Now that the holidays are behind us, a lot of us will start turning our focus and attention to our business plans for the new year. And for many of you, that might mean expanding to a new location, or moving your business to a different facility.
For that reason, I’ll give you a good piece of advice: if you think you might need a Calgary commercial realtor® in 2012, then try to get the process started as early as possible. That will give your commercial realtor the time he or she needs to thoroughly examine your needs, and the market, and let you make the right decision in a reasonable amount of time.
Also, leaving a little bit of time can help your realtor® give you better advice on things like:
Neighborhoods. The perfect place for your business isn’t just the right space to work in, but one that’s located in an area that’s good for your company, is easy for you and your employees to get to, and has the right kinds of other businesses around.
Commercial property types. From offices to retail spaces, commercial properties come in all kinds of sizes and shapes. You want your Calgary commercial realtor® to have the time to look through them and find the one that’s right for you… not to mention give you a handful of good candidates along the way.
Zoning. Sometimes, the perfect space isn’t zoned for the use you are intending. In those situations, your Calgary commercial realtor® may be able to help you make a request to the zoning board, but that process takes a bit of time, and is best started early.
Lease issues. Likewise, a good Calgary commercial realtor® will know what sort of items in the lease can be negotiated, and which property owners are best to work with. The more time you have, the more likely you are to get the right outcome with any kind of lease negotiation.

If you think you might need a good Calgary commercial realtor® in 2012, or just want to talk about your options with different kinds of properties, contact me today!


Because Calgary commercial real estate affects so many other parts of the Alberta economy (including employment rates, interest on business loans, available inventory, etc.), it isn’t unusual to find commercial real estate news on the front pages of lots of local papers. That’s good news for a Calgary commercial realtor® like me, but what if you are someone who is thinking about leasing or buying property in the future? How much attention do you have to pay to the Calgary commercial real estate market then?
This isn’t just a hypothetical question. Because new construction, leasing terms, and changes to buildings or zoning are regularly featured in the business press, you could easily spend half your day looking at various news items and trying to see how they might impact your company’s financial future.
Since most of you don’t have that kind of time, here are two things you need to know:
It’s a good idea to know the basics of Calgary commercial real estate. The more you know about what’s going on, in general, the better sense you’ll have of what kinds of rates you’ll have to pay for different types of spaces, which parts of the city are doing well, and so on.
Beyond that, a good Calgary commercial realtor® can help you with the details. Once you have a good overall picture of what’s happening with Calgary commercial real estate, a good realtor® can help you fill in any gaps and give you strong advice on leases and locations. There’s no reason to obsess over the details – you just have to have someone on your side who can do it for you.

The Calgary commercial real estate market is always changing and shifting, and trying to follow every twist and turn wouldn’t be a good use of your time. Instead, make sure you have a great commercial realtor® on your side, and he or she will make sure you’re looking at the right properties for your business needs and getting a good rate on your lease or purchase.

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