I’ve seen some ground floor condos for sale and marketing as “live/work” – what is typically permitted with use of these spaces? Could I buy a ground level condo and rent this out as a commercial space, or rent as an office to a small start up?
If a permit is requited, are these costly/difficult to acquire?
It all depends on how the unit is zoned.
If you had a typical Condo located on the main floor, and it was zoned residential in the same way as all the other units in the building, it can’t be used for commercial purposes, ie. a nail salon or barber shop.
Ground-level units have to be specifically zoned to allow a given purpose.
Note that in the base of many condominiums are ground level commercial spaces, such as a Starbucks, or a furniture. These are specifically planned by the developer to be commercial units, purchased in the same was as the residential units, for which maintenance fees apply in the same way. The logic behind it: developers know that condo owners don’t want to live on the main floor, and that businesses will pay far more for that kind of exposure.
So to your point – the “live/work” designation, this is a hybrid zoning that allows a unit owner to run a business out of his or her unit, but the uses are restricted, and you can find a detailed description of the permitted uses in the condominium’s declaration. The most common example of live work would be something like the iZone lofts on Carlaw Avenue, where a lot of artists, photographers, graphic designers, et al will live and work in their unit, and are permitted to run their business out of the space, have customers coming and going, hang signage, etc.
To your question – are they hard to acquire? No, they are quite common, and in many cases don’t actually sell that well.