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Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300

TTY : 503-823-6868

1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

I want to remodel an existing commercial building. I won’t be changing the use, but may do some work on the site or on the exterior of the building

A project that would not involve any work on the outside of a building or to the site, and wouldn't change the legal use of any part of the space, is generally one of the simplest types of permits that we issue. An example of this type of project is where an existing office or retail space would be remodeled for a new office or retail tenant, or where the existing tenant wants to make some changes to the layout. 

If this will be a new location for you, and even if you will be using the building for the same use as did the previous tenant, we recommend that you check the building permit records to make sure that the use has actually been permitted and that a change of use permit will NOT be required. It is not uncommon to find buildings that, for many years, have been used in a way that has never been approved through the permit process. Legalizing a change of use can be a lot more complicated and expensive than remodeling an existing legal use. You can avoid surprises by doing the research ahead of time. 

Even with relatively simple interior remodeling projects there are some potential complications to be aware of -- most of which have to do with improvements that could be triggered based on the value of the work.


Improvements to the Public Right of Way

Even where no exterior work is proposed, the building owner may be required to make improvements to the public right of way. If the Office of Transportation determines that the existing right of way conditions are substandard, and the value of the proposed alterations to the building exceeds 35% of the assessed value of all existing improvements on the site, Transportation may require that you dedicate part of your property to construct street improvements. With a dedication, private property is legally converted to public right of way so as to improve a sidewalk, bike lane, etc. The value of required fire, life safety, accessibility and seismic upgrades may be subtracted from the total permit value for purposes of determining the 35% threshold.


Transportation staff at (503) 823-7002 can give you information about the status of the right of way at any location.