Once you’ve decided to locate your business in Downtown Ferndale, the Ferndale DDA is prepared to assist you every step of the way.


Contact the Ferndale DDA at 248-546-1632 or info@downtownferndale.com to discuss your business idea, review your plan and get information on available properties in Downtown Ferndale.


After locating a property that fits your needs, contact the landlord/property owner for a review of the property and to collect the information you will need to complete a Zoning Determination Request, as the City requires of ALL new businesses.  Specific information includes:

  1. Owner’s name
  2. Owner’s address
  3. Property address
  4. Owner’s phone number.

DDA Recommendation:

Hire a commerical inspector to inspect the property PRIOR to signing a lease agreement with your future landlord. The inspector will note any possible code violations and improvements needed for your future business and its occupancy of the building.  By doing this ahead of signing, you can determine who will be responsible for improvements.


Complete the Zoning Determination Request (ZDR), including a short description of your business and products,  and submit it for review/approval to the City of Ferndale Building Department.  You are now on your way to obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, required for every new business.


If Zoning is approved, you will follow one of two tracks to obtain your C of O. Either track will take you to the City of Ferndale and its Building Department,  Your contact there will be Kathy McClintic, Community & Economic Development, 248-546-2366.

     TRACK 1

  • If you do not need or plan to renovate the property significantly (improvements that do not require permits such as paint, flooring, etc.) then submit your application for your Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) to the City Clerk at City Hall along with the $200 fee.
  • Schedule four inspections.  It is YOUR responsibility to schedule these 4 required inspections.​
    • ​Building
    • Plumbing
    • Electrical
    • HVAC
  • ​Once your property has met the code for each of the inspections, you will be issued a C of O.

     ​TRACK 2

  • If you plan to renovate the property in a way that requires building plans, proceed directly with drafting your building plans.  Permit and building plan fees will be based on the extent of the construction. A fee schedule can be reviewed at the City of Ferndale’s website.
  • For improvements that require a permit – building construction, electrical, plumbing, heating/cooling –  submit the Building Permit Application to the department, accompanied by plans from a bonded contractor and/or vendor.
  • As the property nears completion, return to the Building Department to schedule inspections for Building, Electrial, Plumbing and HVAC.  Inspections are made on a date agreed upon by the Building Department.  Cancellations are subject to a $35 fine unless the Building Deparment is contacted before 9 am on the day of the scheduled inspection.
  • Notice of violations will be sent to the applicant and property owner.  The applicant has 30 days to correct violations.  Contact the Building Department for an extension, if needed.  The Certificate of Occupancy will not be issued until violations are corrected, reinspected and approved. DO NOT OPEN your business until the Certificate of Occupancy is issued.

​If zoning is not approved, contact the Board of Zoning Appeals via the City Clerk’s Office for an appeal form.  OR, contact the DDA to find another location in Downtown Ferndale.


After approval of your ZDR, you will then need to submit an Appearance Review Application for any exterior improvements, renovations or changes to the building including but not limited to signage, paint color, remodeling, windows, doors, facade, etc.  Submit the Appearance Review Application and $100 Application Fee to the DDA at 300 E. Nine Mile, with appropriate support collateral such as exterior design plans, elevation, material samples.   DO NOT START any exterior construction, printing of signage, etc., until approval is given by the Appearance Review Committee, which meets every two weeks on Wednesdays.  Call the DDA at 248-546-1634 to determine the exact date and time of the next Appearance Review Committee meeting.

DDA Recommendation

Ask about the DDA’s Build Program, a financial reimbursement for exterior work, available exclusively for properties located in the DDA.  Click here to find out more about the BUILD Program and to get the BUILD Application.


As you prepare to open your business, connect with the DDA for additional assistance in scheduling a grand opening, getting listed at DowntownFerndale.com, generating publicity, developing a marketing program, getting involved in the community and more.  Do not hesitate to contact the DDA staff any step of the way.

Some additional links for your consideration:

Flowchart of opening a business in Ferndale

More information about business’ legal structure

Tips on naming your business