Planning for Commercial Development

1. Overview

If you are planning to remodel or build a new commercial building, this guide will take you through the process from start to finish. We created this page for developers, engineers, planners, architects, and anyone else involved in the planning and construction process.

A commercial building is defined as a building that is any of the following:

  • Used for commercial purposes
  • Mixed-use
  • 4 or more residential units (apartments)

If you’re working on a smaller project in or around your home, see the Planning for Home Improvement page.

Do you need a demolition permit? Find out how to apply.

Questions?

If you have questions about your project, contact us at 315-448-8600 or permits@syrgov.net.

2. Let us know about your project

First, the developer needs to let the Central Permit Office know about the proposed project. At this stage, you have 2 options.

  1. Plan a pre-development meeting. While these meetings aren’t required, they can help with your planning process. Find out what happens in a pre-development meeting.
  2. Register your project for review. If you don’t need a pre-development meeting and are ready for review, you can skip that step. Learn how to register your project.

Questions?

If you have questions about your project, contact us at 315-448-8600 or permits@syrgov.net.

3. Have a pre-development meeting

Do you want to meet with City staff before you submit documentation for review? If so, we’ll set up a pre-development meeting once your project is in the active planning phase. This meeting isn’t required, but it should help you in the planning process.

Before the meeting:

  • Complete a Pre-Development Registration Form
  • Make sure all the major project stakeholders can come to the meeting, including the developer and any architects, engineers, and contractors  
  • Prepare to share a detailed project timeline with us

During the meeting:

  • You and your team will present details about the project, including the timeline and your construction plans
  • Any city departments that need to review your project — such as Engineering, Fire, Planning, DPW, and Zoning — will join us
  • We’ll let you know about any problems or concerns we have, and what approvals you need for your project
  • We’ll answer your questions

After the meeting:

  • Within 3 business days of the meeting, we’ll give you feedback about your project and details about which steps below apply
  • We’ll also give you a contact list of all the city staff members who attended the meeting and any other staff members you need to contact about your plan
  • Contact city stakeholders to resolve any issues prior to submitting final plans for permit review 

Do you need a zoning review — or not sure if you do?

You’ll probably need a series of zoning reviews for your project. Learn more from the Zoning Office. 

  • Check out the Zoning Office’s website [link]
  • Use the Zoning Discovery Tool [link]
  • Contact Zoning for more information [link]

Questions?

If you have questions about your project, contact us at 315-448-8600 or email permits@syrgov.net.

4. Register your project and schedule an intake meeting

All commercial projects need to be registered. When you’re ready, use this form to register your project for intake.

Once we receive your registration, one of our project managers will decide whether you need an intake meeting. You’ll get an answer within 1 to 2 days. 

If your project does require an intake meeting, the project manager will schedule it. The meeting will include representatives from the Central Permit, Fire Prevention, and Zoning Offices.

During the meeting, we will:

  • Let you know about any problems or concerns we have with your project
  • Tell you which approvals you need for your project
  • Let you know your next steps and how to submit digital plans for permit review
  • Answer any questions

5. Submit your plans

When you’ve completed all the previous steps, you’re ready to submit your final plans. Note that we only accept plans and documents submitted digitally.

Here are some guidelines for your finalized construction plans. 

  • They must be drawn to scale.
  • They must include:
    • A survey and detailed site plan that shows elevations and contours
    • Location of the building you are working on and all buildings that are directly next to it
    • Water service and the sewer and storm drainage 
    • Building code analysis/code review for your specified occupancy
  • Structural plans must include complete foundation details, elevation and section views, and framing details.
  • If your project costs more than $20,000 and includes structural changes to the building that could affect its safety, you’ll need an architect or engineer’s stamp on your construction drawings.

Guidelines for your permit applications

Depending on how complicated your project is, it might take a while for us to review your plans and issue permits. Keep in mind that you can’t start construction until you have all of your permits. Here are some tips for managing the permit process:

  • Get started on your permit applications as soon as possible. 
  • We can only issue permits for finalized projects. We understand that most developers work with preliminary plans until the project is finalized. But you’ll need to wait until your plans are finalized and certified to apply for permits.
  • If your construction plans change significantly for any reason, please contact us at permits@syrgov.net.

All of the departments that need to be involved in approving your project will conduct a review of your final plans. We’ll make clear what you need to do for final approval of your site plan. 

Questions?

If you have questions about your project, contact us at 315-448-8600 or email permits@syrgov.net.

6. Start construction and schedule your inspections

We’ll probably need to do several  inspections over the course of your project. As you complete each phase of construction, our city inspectors will visit to ensure that the work meets New York State’s safety standards.

There are 5 major types of inspections:

  • Electrical Inspections for electrical and security work
  • Building Permit Inspections for the construction or alteration of structures, pools, fences and decks
  • Mechanical Permit Inspections for HVAC and refrigeration work, above/underground tanks, cooking hood systems, and fireplaces
  • Sprinkler Permit Inspections 
  • Fire Alarm Inspections

Here’s how the inspection process works.

You (or your contractor) needs to call us at 315-448-8695 to set up your inspections.

When you call, be prepared to tell us your:

  • Permit number
  • Building address
  • Type of inspection(s)
  • Type of building (i.e. single family, apartment, commercial)
Set up plumbing and elevator inspections separately.

The city doesn’t do those inspections. So you’ll need to:

Before an inspection, you need to:
  • Post a copy of your permit in your building
  • Make sure to have your approved plans available
During your inspections, be ready to show us:
  • Footing before pouring concrete (building inspector) 
  • Foundation before backfill (building inspector)
  • Framing before enclosing (building inspector)
  • Sprinkler before closing (sprinkler inspector)
  • Electric before enclosing (electrical inspector)
  • Elevator (elevator inspector contracted by City)
  • Fire Alarm/Security (fire)
  • Plumbing before enclosing (County plumbing control inspector)
  • Heating, ventilation, air conditional before enclosing (HVAC inspector)
  • Insulation before enclosing (building inspector)
  • Final inspection (all of the above complete a final inspection, though not simultaneously).

7. Finish your project

Once all of your inspections are complete, we’ll give you a final inspection report.

If we determine that your building is up to code and safe, we’ll give you a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Completion. Once you have one of those certificates, you can connect utilities to your building (power, water, and gas) and open it to the public. Congratulations! 

Questions?

If you have questions about your project, contact us at 315-448-8600 or permits@syrgov.net.