Things you may not think of about Site Selection

By Maria Rehlander

Congratulations! You are ready to start looking for a location for your new grocery store! You have community interest and have your funding in place. This is a very exciting and yet intimidating stage. One of the first things you will to get is an updated and market study to help guide you to the store’s best location.  Besides location, other important factors to take into consideration sales potential, competitive conditions, support of business and City relationships, and even cultural conditions such as language difference and religion. We would like to provide you some additional considerations and criteria with the intent to help you select the best site that will meet the store’s goals.


1.       Zoning: Review the city’s local zoning code and/or reach out and talk to the building official. They will be able to help you determine if the site is zoned for your store, how tall your building can be, how you can provide signage directing clients to your building. They can tell you if the building is protected by a historical preservation and if so, they can help you determine what restrictions and limitations you will have in remodeling an existing building. Make sure when you are narrowing down your sites, you get a class I a site survey. The site survey will show you the exact property lines, which will help to delineate the city’s local code building setback requirements.  The setback requirements will determine where your building can be on the site, as well as how big it can be. Also, you can’t build on wetlands and easements, so you want to make sure that if wetlands exist on the site, you can still achieve your building’s program requirements.


2.      The store and its customer entry should be very visible from the main street and should be positioned as part of the business community. You want it to be easy for people to find you…if they can’t find you, you will lose sales.


3.      Landscaping should be used to soften the concrete, brick and asphalt environment and to “green up” the front of the store.


4.     Parking! Make sure you have ample parking stalls…it is very frustrating when there is not enough parking. The parking area should be accessible and visible from the main street. Parking should be on the same level as the store. If you lack parking or parking is not directly close to your building, customers will find other stores to shop at which are more convenient. As a rule of thumb, you want to make sure you have 5 parking stalls per every 1,000 SF of your building. Also, you need additional room for delivery truck turning radius (so deliveries can come and go easily – refer to #5), dedicated cart storage corrals and ADA parking stalls that meet local code, and 5-15 designated employee parking spaces.


5.      Can the site accommodate the back of store functions? Can the delivery trucks come and go without obstructing your customer traffic and parking? Can the site accommodate a loading dock? Depending on your store’s program and what the back of house needs are, this can be a critical player in determining if a site will be successful with your store’s needs. Deliveries to the shoppers will be by both semi and straight trucks. Most deliveries will happen from 6am to 2pm. There may be several delivery trucks at the store at once. The site needs to accommodate the ingress/egress of tractor/trailer trucks with 54’ trailers. Many of the trucks will have noisy “reefers” which code may require to maintain a certain distance away from residential areas.


6.     Is there room to accommodate for site trash and recycling? Each week you’ll have 1 or more pickups of trash, cardboard and recycling. Compost depends on your City code.


7.      The Building. Is the building new or existing? If the building is new, can the building’ square footage fit on the site and meet all of the requirements? If it is an existing building is protected by the historic preservation? Does the existing building have original drawings? We highly recommend if you have an existing building, you hire an architect to review the building and provide a feasibility study. There will be local code requirements that you may not be aware of, remodeling a project may require unforeseen items and updates that if you are not an architect, you will not know. Many people see a building and think all it needs is to be remodeled for A-B-C and then its good to go. However, once the architect is involved, you may find that in order to meet you’re A-B-C goals, you also need to do X-Y-Z and that will cost you an additional several hundreds of dollars that you did not account for. It is better to know what you are working with in the beginning and how much it will cost!


8.     Other building characteristics to keep in mind include: ground floor should be on grade at point of customer entry into the store, columns and other interior obstacles should be kept minimum in number and size. Use of full-size windows should be minimal, probably only by customer entry. Any other windows typically should start at 80” above the finished floor.

Seven Roots is dedicated to provide a “dream team” for our clients. We will show you a new way to build better stores! We are architects, interior designers, and store planners all in one that work on projects from the very beginning and through the very end. We also have partnered with an engineering design firm which can also provide you will all of your engineering needs. We are a one-stop shop. Together we can provide you with a functional, aesthetic, and cost-effective store.


Seven roots typical Site Feasibility Study process:

A project feasibility study will be provided for potential sites and our goal would be at the end of the study, we will be able to provide a vision of the proposed development to be presented to the City officials and other potential funding agencies as applicable.



Preliminary site planning and building massing can begin using the City plat maps, however once a final site is selected, an official boundary survey should be authorized to determine exact boundaries, potential easements etc.


Building & Site Program


Seven roots will evaluate the project’s opportunities and constraints for alignment with client goals and requirements. Establish a building program with various functions, required areas sizes and functional relationships.  Establish site requirements in terms of size of delivery trucks, waste management, etc.


Schematic Site & Building Layouts

Once this is established, we will provide preliminary building and site concepts for above. 



Seven roots shall identify the local, state, and federal regulatory jurisdictions impacting the project. Advise as to the challenges of the potential project in terms of code, structural strategies and cost comparisons.


Cost Estimate

Seven roots shall to assist the client in reviewing funding, scheduling and costs.


Schematic Building Image  

Seven roots shall produce color sketches relative to floor plan layouts, site layout and 2-3 exterior store renderings; all suitable for presentation to City Officials and potential funding agencies.


We hope these tips are helpful to you and when you are ready to start looking for a site for your store, please give us a call! We are here for you!

 If you want more information, check out our info sheet on Site Selection Criteria!