A piece of land is the most valuable limited resource. The demand, as well as the business opportunities for vacant land, grow every year as population increases and space constricts. The opportunities available to you depend on the type of vacant land that you have. The average person might look at an empty parking lot or unused farmland as wasted space, but a savvy investor knows a space’s potential.
You don’t have to put up a home or an office to make money from your land. With a little creativity, you can take advantage of unconventional business opportunities for vacant land of all types.
Business Opportunities for Vacant Land by Type
The type of available business opportunities will depend on your property type, its size, and the nearby landmarks We’ll go through the most common types of land you might have, and business opportunities for each. Keep in mind that different areas have different rules about land usage, so always make sure you check with your local government about ordinances before getting started.
- Paved lot: large parking lot or unused commercial lot
- Grassy lot: city green space, overgrown commercial lot, empty residential lot
- Rural lot: Forest, wetlands, unused farmland
Paved Urban Lot
A paved vacant lot can be left behind after a business closes, or when an old building is demolished without any new construction plans. These areas can be put to good use and become a benefit to the owner and community.
A vacant paved lot presents a number of business opportunities for landowners:
1. Ice and Water Vending
If your lot is near or en route to a manufacturing facility, construction zone, power plant, warehouse, or mining field, it may be the perfect location. Workers at these facilities need ice and water throughout the day to keep their lunches and beverages cool. Having close proximity to one or more of these buildings also ensures a steady flow of traffic. A vacant paved lot can be a good location if there’s electricity, proper drainage, and the machine is visible from the main road.
2. Kiosk Store or Service
There are other businesses, similar to ice and water vending machines, that do not require much space to function. A paved lot with an electrical hookup is the ideal setting for a small kiosk. Examples of businesses where an Ice Kiosk can flourish are tax services, cash advance establishments, and fast-food restaurants, to name a few.
3. Food Truck
Food trucks are appealing to aspiring chefs that aren’t ready to take a risk or make the investment required of a full-sized restaurant. These types of businesses can also be successful in the right location because they receive heavy foot-traffic–especially during lunch when people stop to grab a quick bite. Tacos, hot dogs, gyros, pizza, sandwiches, wraps, smoothies and other items that can easily be eaten on-the-go are popular for food trucks. Once again, you might start this up yourself, rent your space, or work with someone you know.
4. Parking Spaces
One of the easiest business opportunities for empty, paved lots is parking spaces. The busier the area you’re located in, the better this opportunity will be. However, the initial investment will depend on the condition of the lot: and you may have to repair potholes, repaint lines, and install entry and exit systems. You might rent out your spaces on an hourly basis, or advertise for long-term parking.
5. Pop-Up Market
You don’t need a permanent storefront to take advantage of a business opportunity. Businesses such as farmer’s markets and garden stores are also good locations. Also, seasonal items like Christmas trees, pumpkins, or fireworks can be sold on an empty lot. If you’re working with other business owners, you can take advantage of a rental fee and make money with very little time or energy required.
A grassy lot may be in an urban, suburban, or rural area. The business opportunities that work best will depend on the other nearby features and amenities. Some of the previous ideas may still be possible, depending on the placement and condition of the lot. Here are a few others:
6. Community or Personal Garden
In many urban areas, there isn’t enough room for supermarkets, and they are often too far away in rural areas. As a result, grassy lots are a great place to establish community gardens. Exploring this option is a great way to give back to your community while making money. You might rent plots to friends or neighbors, or offer community gardening supplies for a rental fee. Or, you might use the land as a garden yourself and sell your fruits, vegetables or flowers at a stand.
7. Dog Park
If your grassy lot is in an urban setting, you don’t have to pave or develop it to make it useful and lucrative. A private dog park is a good business opportunity for landowners that cannot develop the land, either due to a city ordinance or other obstacles with the land itself. You’ll need to fence the area and there may be special safety ordinances you’ll need to follow. Also, you’ll need to limit access to paying customers in similar ways as a parking structure; use a key or key code for entry, or have an attendant monitor the park.
If you cannot break ground on your grassy lot, you can still place a storage shed; this is helpful for residential landowners who cannot build on the property due to an ordinance or land use permits. A storage shed can be installed and space can be rented to nearby residents. Larger or climate-controlled spaces will be lucrative, customers can store big items like boats or motorcycles, or delicate items like pictures, clothing, or antiques.
Many easements are used for access. If a neighboring property does not have access to a popular features–like a main road, beach, park, or something else—but yours does, neighboring businesses or homeowners may agree to easement access for a fee. However, be sure to get a contract that outlines the easement is allowed for a limited time and purpose. If you don’t, you could lose the property through a prescriptive easement, commonly referred to as adverse possession or “squatter’s rights.”
A billboard or another advertisement can go up anywhere. If you have vacant land in a reasonably trafficked area, a billboard can be a good business opportunity. However, you should talk to nearby businesses first. A sign simply pointing to a nearby restaurant or market from the main road can be a win-win for both the landowner and the business owner.
There are many business opportunities for landowners of large, rural lots. Some of these may have building limitations due to valuable habitat, such wetlands. Others may have no limitations, but they are too far from popular amenities to be valuable residential property. Here are some other business opportunities for landowners in more remote locations.
Some vacationers yearn to unplug and a remote location is a perfect place. If you have a home or another structure already on the property, consider turning it into a vacation destination for meditation, yoga, or spiritual retreats. If there are no structures on the property, consider a rural and rustic campground; this won’t require much upfront investment if you already have a beautiful rural property. However, advertising will be essential, since visitors are unlikely to stumble across your far-flung property on their own.
12. Farms and Orchards
An obvious and historic business opportunity for landowners with a large swath of rural land. There are many options beyond traditional row crops like corn, as well. You might use your land to start an orchard or a vineyard. Organic, locally grown, and produce can also be successful. Another alternative is trying to raise and sell animals, like goats, chickens, pigs, fish, horses, llamas or ducks.
Some activities are not suited for closed, which makes large rural spaces ideal. Shooting ranges, paintball arenas, obstacle courses, zip lines, hunting, dirt biking, snowmobiling, and other adventurous activities can attract visitors. However, some of these may require more set-up and maintenance than others, and liability insurance or waivers will be particularly important.
14. Private Park
If you have a beautiful outdoor space, patrons will often pay to enjoy it. With some maintenance to create paths for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing or horseback riding, you can charge others to enjoy the space. Restricting access can be difficult for a large space, but can often be accomplished by charging for parking, since most visitors will drive to get there.
15. Special Events
Some events require peace, quiet and seclusion. Weddings are one of the most popular events for beautiful outdoor settings, although parties, family reunions, mitzvahs, and many other celebrations also require a large venue. You might ask guests to bring their tents, tables, and other necessities, provide them yourself, or work with other businesses.
There are many other creative business opportunities for usages of vacant land, of all types. Talk to your local government to see if these ideas are viable for your property, or use this list as a springboard to get inspired. With a bit of creativity and a modest investment, you can turn your land into a valuable business.