The reasons are legion. There is no hard and fast rule about why development passed around a vacant lot, whether commercial or residential. Many are vacant lots because of poor business decisions made many years ago. Some are vacant because of legal or estate problems. Some are poorly located, and some the owners just don't want to sell for whatever reason. Vacant lots don't really hurt anything. For example, when I was a kid growing up, a vacant lot was an automatic baseball diamond. Every kid, regardless of age had a ball park. The smaller the lot, the younger the kid. As we grew up, we could hit the ball farther and needed bigger vacant lots. There were always some available. Now things are much different. We have organized leagues, real uniforms, and real ballparks with bags at the bases instead of cardboard. I came too early for bags on the bases until I got into American Legion and High School baseball. I remember when I received my first uniform, I had to figure out what purpose the sliding pads served.
In a good economy, miscellaneous and scattered vacant lots can be the source of new business which can become new additions to the tax base. I have had some experience with vacant lots or "out take" lots. Mostly, they were left over lots after residential development was long since completed and the commercial lot "hold out" never enjoyed a commercial market that could absorb them. They often sit for many years. In general, I think most owners of these scattered lots would like to sell them. In general, almost every time someone approaches P&Z or the Planning Department for the appropriate zoning, someone will object. They object because they just don't want change. Oh, a lot of reasons are given, but they generally just don't want change. I think that's an abuse of private property rights. There's only one owner of that lot........not 20. If it is desired to develop these "in fill" lots, it requires common sense of everyone.
Any seller or any purchaser of a lot that wishes to install a business with an unsavory nature should know without explanation that this community would not accept such a business. They're just wasting everyone's time. However, there are a myriad of businesses that could contribute to Rowlett's life style. A small strip center could house a few different shops as computer repair, pet salons, insurance offices, etc. Larger lots on well traveled roads could support much more variety of businesses. What's important, once again, is that common sense prevails. The buildings must be compatible with the neighborhoods. They need not be brash and bold fronts. They need to be tasteful and attractive. However, they must be allowed enough signage for people to see what service is available without causing "rear ending" incidents in front of the place.
Good judgment of the seller and the purchaser of a lot goes a long way toward developing a vacant scattered lot. Furthermore, some understanding by surrounding residents can help. After all of any emotional outcry is exhausted, some time must be taken to consider any good that comes from the proposal. If for no other reason, some service businesses will be brought nearer the neighborhoods. However, the best aid to developing "in fill" lots is a Planning department that understands business and is business friendly.
It is reasonable to assume that most people reading this blog have never approached any city hall and discussed the development of a vacant lot into a functioning building that houses a business. You would be absolutely amazed at the differences that a sampling of city halls can present. I have met with two cities in the same day. One was just a few miles down the road from the other. In one city, we can only say we received a "cold shoulder." We heard every reason why certain things we presented were unacceptable to that particular city. They weren't particularly nice about it and didn't present much of a friendly face. Just about 45 minutes down the road there was another city in which a comparable presentation was made on a similar "out take" lot. The difference between the two cities was like night and day. The staff of city two expressed what seemed to be serious interest in what we wanted to do. They told us about miscues that they wished we wouldn't do, but quickly offered other solutions to achieve the same result. They seemed to really want to help. When I offered my genuine thanks for helping us out, the planning director just smiled and said, "Thanks okay. Its just good for the tax base." We were underway with construction in 3 months with the second city. I don't know if the project in the first city ever got built. I left that company and took another position with another lender.
All the points of the above post are these:
1. Scattered lots, or in-fill lots, are the most unspectacular of a city's development plan. They don't make headlines. They vary widely in size and location. However, they can be very beneficial to a tax base if nurtured. It requires common sense of everybody......sellers, buyers, citizens and staff.
2. The most help can come from City Staff. They must be business friendly and try to help when they can. No one knows the rules better than staff. The developer is simply trying to learn the rules. If city staff elects to withhold information or fail to explain their needs, it will not take long for word to get around that the city is hard to deal with. This is not good for tax base nurturing.
Is Rowlett business friendly? If you know anybody in the construction or development business in the DFW area, call them and ask them if Rowlett has a good reputation with developers. Ask other business owners in Rowlett. Over a period of time, your inquiries would begin to take form. You will know if Rowlett is business friendly.
If you decide the city is business friendly, its good for the tax base.