"Light Industrial" Zoning

7 Replies

Hello - I am interested in a single family in the Rhode Island/Providence area. It is a GREAT price considering other single families and, while it could use some work, might be a worthwhile investment (still vetting). A problem I see, perhaps why it is priced so low, is that it is zoned "light industrial". I do not know much about zoning but basic research I did essentially says this type of zoning involves areas with small manufacturing plants near by (?).

Few questions:

1. I assume noise will be an issue but other than that, what else should I be considering with a "light industrial" zoned property? How does this effect the value of the property?

2. Is there a way to research this further and look at potential zoning plans for the city I am in? If so, what am I looking for?

3. If anyone knows more, what exactly does "light industrial" zoning mean?

4. Would I be able to re-zone a property? If so, what would I want it zoned to as?

Thanks for the help!

I don't have specific experience trying to sell such a property on the MLS. My guess is that if you sold it off-market to a private party it would matter less, but then you'd have less exposure of course.

The biggest issue I've noticed about properties where the zoning is odd/unusual/not what you'd expect based on the current usage, is that often they are in very not-great areas.

For example, the property you're talking about, would not surprise me if it's on a short street and next to or across from an abandoned / boarded-up factory, railroad tracks, etc. and all the properties on that short street are either vacant or in rough shape.

I'm not just being pessimistic, I've researched a lot of properties and the few times these zoning mismatches pop up, seems more often than not to be a situation like that.

So to me the issue isn't the zoning per se, it's that the zoning itself is an indicator of something else that's less desirable about the property, such as what's around it.

The Providence zoning code is online and in the Industrial Districts section defines Light Industrial (M-1) as: "The M-1 light industrial district is intended for light industrial and office park uses that accommodate a variety of manufacturing, assembly, storage of durable goods, and related activities provided that they do not pose toxic, explosive or environmental hazard in the city."

It's possible to re-zone a property but it is an extended affair that could take at least 6 months, plan on 12 (figure several postponed city council hearings, hoops to jump through, etc. and you get the idea), and I would not count on that as part of the deal at all - that should be "gravy", not something you count on for the deal to work at all.

The best thing I think you can do is ride by the property, maybe talk to neighbors in the area too, and see if you can figure out why it's zoned Light Industrial.

One could expect lots of semi-trucks, large boxed trucks etc.  Go visit the site at several different times in one day. Then repeat the process on the weekend.  Watch the traffic for 30 to 60 minutes.  Count the cars and types you see. 

In addition to the above comments regarding what is there now, the zoning indicates what could be there in the future.  Timing is unknowable and new development might never occur.  A developer might buy your property and neighbors' in the future to build a factory, for example.  Alternatively, the developer could just buy your neighbors' property and leave yours as is.  You can't count on anything, but other development offers could be a future benefit.

In the meantime, you can only evaluate what is there assuming you aren't looking to develop it yourself.  Visit the property as recommended and decide if it is attractive for your intended purpose.


Will do. I checked it out further online and saw some mounted solar panels on the ground a few hundred yard behind the property. I assume it has something to do with this. I will keep digging and certainly drive past it in the near future. Thank you all!

If you are experienced enough to follow the old school real estate experts like John Schaub, Peter Fortunato, Jack Miller and Mike Cantu, you need to know about "Fixer Jay" Decima. 

Jay teaches exactly how to spot opportunities such as the house near industrial or factory area and how to profit. 

The primary opportunity is seller financing. It is rarely equity, such as that suitable yo wholesale of flip. It's about buying a hard to sell property that can be made into a cash flow machine. Jay Decima is out of Northern CA town of Redding.

Your best bet is to call Providence Bldg and Zoning. You'll get a detailed description in 30 seconds of the slotted uses for that particular zoning classification.

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