Did you know Salt Lake City offers extra assistance to businesses who are applying for building permits? George Ott is a liaison between Building Services and the business community. He works to reduce the turnaround time on your permit application, enabling you to open for business faster.
This liaison role is fairly new to Salt Lake City. The City Council funded the position to help small businesses who don’t always have the funding or experience with City permitting.
George offers assistance to whoever comes in the door. Sometimes it’s a 5-minute conversation and sometimes it’s a 5-month long process helping a small business move into a new space. And so far, the response has been positive. With hundreds of jobs in the queue, he is saving business owners months in permitting times and minimizing hassle overall.
If you’re starting a new construction project, it is important to ask the right questions early to find out which permits are needed. It helps to research the design professionals who help produce complete construction documents that are needed for the permit application and familiarize yourself with the city’s computer tools at slcgov.opencounter.com, aca.slcgov.com, and slcgov.com.
About to sign a lease?
Most permit problems occur when a building is being used differently than it was before (also referred to as a “change of use”). Existing building code can clash with a building that may have been built before those codes were adopted. It is better to know what those challenges are before signing that lease. George adds, “The amount of detail needed for a complicated adaptive re-use of an existing building is more than one thinks. Get someone on your team that is very detail oriented and very tenacious with their follow up.”
John Lyons SVP, Development and Acquisitions with The Parking Spot worked with George on a large project near Salt Lake City Airport.
He said, “George provided a guided tour of how to get thru the process. Like most locations, there never seems to be a diagram or decision tree to show what agencies and departments need to approve our particular project. George, of course, knows the path and was able to occasionally contact an individual in the process to nudge our review to the top of the pile. He counseled us to understand the feedback from the city’s review and find reasonable solutions that were responsive to the city’s needs – but helped preserve our project feasibility.”
On another project, Centro Civico – an affordable senior housing development, developer Peter Corroon said, “Make sure you get to know George when starting a new build. The City needs more Georges. There should be a central point of contact (person) for each project instead of having to maneuver through multiple divisions.”
We couldn’t agree more.
In addition to George’s liaison role, Salt Lake City continues to find new ways to make the process easier. OpenCounter a new online tool, the zoning and permitting process has helped applicants find answers easily and save them time having to go down to the City with those questions. Zoning, Permit fees and the new Residential portal are all very helpful for businesses and residents.
Next up is an upgrade to Project Dox – a plan review software designed to respond to submittals and track responses more efficiently. The changes will streamline the process and help direct the applicant’s designer to where the corrections are needed and track those responses more quickly.
It’s all about accelerating jobs and revenue, and George is here to help.
George Ott has been with Salt Lake City for almost 12 years, 10 of those years in Engineering. Doing Right of Way permits helped teach him the “who, what, where” of the City permitting process. He has also worked in the private sector over 20 years pulling permits and building. He says, “I can empathize with people who are struggling with the permitting process.”
When we asked him what he enjoys about the job he says, “Helping people. It’s really that simple, most of the time people just want someone to talk to or have someone who will explain things to them. I enjoy what I do and hope that making these continuous improvements will help the business community grow and prosper here in Salt Lake City.”