The interest in urban wineries is on the rise, with companies looking to take advantage of close proximity to customers, empty warehouse and industrial space, and access to city water and sewer. However, hidden land use issues can present significant problems when pursuing this type of urban property, particularly within the City of Portland (City).
With the changing urban landscape (in-fill development, urban renewal areas, etc.), many older warehouses and industrial spaces are located in zones that now restrict commercial and industrial activities. This means that although an industrial activity may have historically occupied the building, a new or changed industrial use may be prohibited or restricted under the City’s current land use regulations. Even if the building is marketed as a “grandfathered” industrial space, that does not mean it has been approved as a legal nonconforming use or situation under the City’s code. It is important to know whether the City has already issued a legal nonconforming determination for the industrial activities and, if not, to consider whether such a determination can be obtained prior to acquiring the property. The City’s website provides a good explanation of the process and the review requirements.
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