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What Permits Are Needed for New Commercial Buildings in Anchorage, AK?

Exterior of a new 1-story red commercial building

Starting a new commercial venture or building a new space for an expanding business in Anchorage requires careful planning and adherence to various regulations and requirements.

Obtaining the necessary permits for commercial building projects is an essential step in ensuring compliance with local laws and ensuring the safety and integrity of the construction process.

Your design/build team will help you navigate this process, but it’s helpful to know what you can expect.

Understanding the Permitting Process

The permit process is designed to safeguard public health, safety, and welfare and maintain the area’s aesthetic appeal and overall quality of life.

Before starting any commercial construction project, you have to obtain a variety of permits, including:

Land Use Permits

Anchorage is divided into various zoning districts, each with its own rules and regulations regarding land use and development. The zoning districts determine what commercial activities are permitted in a particular area.

You’ll need to consult the Anchorage Zoning Map and Zoning Code to determine the conditions of your intended commercial use within your planned site:

  1. Permitted use: Permitted use refers to the activities allowed in a specific zoning district without requiring additional approval. Certain zoning districts may have specific restrictions on commercial building size, layout, or design. Still, as long as your proposed commercial use falls within the permitted use category, you can proceed with obtaining other necessary permits.
  2. Conditional use: Conditional use refers to activities that are not automatically permitted in a particular zoning district but may be allowed through a conditional use permit. Conditional use permits are granted based on specific criteria and considerations outlined in the Anchorage Zoning Code. If your proposed commercial use falls under the conditional use category, you’ll need to submit an application and undergo a public hearing process to demonstrate that your project won’t disrupt the future of the community.
  3. Site plan review: Site plan review is required for most commercial building projects in Anchorage. This process ensures that the proposed site plan meets all applicable zoning regulations, including setbacks, parking requirements, landscaping, and drainage considerations. Site plan review requires the submission of detailed site plans and other relevant documents for evaluation by the municipality.

Grading Permits

Grading permits are essential for commercial construction projects that involve earthwork, excavation, or changes to the existing topography. These permits regulate land clearing, leveling, and soil movement.

To obtain a grading permit in Anchorage, you’ll need to submit a grading plan outlining the proposed grading activities, erosion control measures, and drainage management strategies. The municipality will review the plan to ensure it aligns with environmental protection guidelines and poses no risks to neighboring properties or natural resources.

Building Permits

Building permits ensure compliance with building codes and regulations regarding fire safety, accessibility, structural integrity, and zoning requirements.

To obtain a building permit, you’ll need to submit detailed plans and specifications of your proposed project, including architectural drawings, structural calculations, and other necessary documentation.

Sign Permits

Sign permits regulate the size, placement, and type of signage allowed, ensuring compliance with zoning regulations and maintaining the aesthetic character of the area.

It’s essential to review the sign ordinance and work with a sign professional to design and install signage that meets the requirements.

Submitting Permit Applications

Visit the Anchorage Planning and Development Services website or their office to obtain the necessary application forms.

You’ll need to provide accurate and detailed information about your project. Be prepared to pay application fees, which vary depending on the type and scope of the project.

Incomplete applications or missing documents may result in delays or rejections, so it’s crucial to work with an experienced design/build firm to ensure all required information is included.

Review & Approval Process

Once you have submitted your permit application, it undergoes a review process by various city departments. These departments may include planning, building safety, zoning, fire, and engineering. Each department ensures compliance with their respective codes and regulations.

The review process aims to verify that the proposed project meets all applicable requirements and that public safety is not compromised. The time required for review and approval can vary depending on the project’s complexity and the departments’ workload.

Permit Issuance

Once your plans have been reviewed and approved, the Building Safety Division will issue the building permit. This permit authorizes you to commence construction according to the approved plans.

You’ll need to display the building permit prominently at the construction site as required by the municipality.


During the construction process, inspections will be conducted at various stages to ensure compliance with the approved plans and applicable codes.

It’s essential to schedule and pass these inspections to maintain the integrity and safety of your commercial building project. Inspections typically include foundation, framing, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and final inspections.

Choose Falcon Alaska for Commercial Design/Build Services in Anchorage

At Falcon Alaska, we’re more than a general contractor. Our team is well-versed in Anchorage’s building regulations, so we can help streamline the process and ensure successful permit acquisition.

By navigating the permitting process effectively, you’ll be one step closer to completing your commercial build on schedule and on budget.

Partner with Falcon Alaska for your commercial project. Call 907-745-3865 or request a consultation online to get started.

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