Central Area Neighborhood Design Guidelines

The Central Area Neighborhood Design Guidelines were adopted in April of 2018. 

Seattle's Central Area neighborhood is going through a phase of rapid growth. As new developments spring up around the area, impacts are felt most strongly by smaller businesses and residents who have long called the neighborhood their home. The Central Area Design Guidelines Coalition (CA DGC) worked to mitigate these impacts by partnering with the City and local architects Schemata Workshop and Mimar Studio to outline a set of neighborhood specific guidelines to guide future development in the CA. In addition, CA DGC received award from Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) to provide further technical assistance on this work.

The CA DGC is a self-organized coalition of the following groups who is partnering with the City on developing the Central Area Neighborhood Design Guidelines:

  • 23rd Ave Action Community Team (23rd Ave ACT)
  • Central Area Land Use Review Committee (CA LURC)
  • Historical Central Area Arts and Cultural District (HCAACD)
  • Central Area Collaborative
  • African American Veterans Group of Washington

What Are Neighborhood Design Guidelines?

Design guidelines are the backbone of the Design Review Program. They direct designers and project reviewers to look closely at the neighborhood and its character to design new buildings that enhance their surroundings. The guidelines are used by the Design Review Boards and Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections staff to assess the merits of a project.

There are three types of design guidelines:

  • Citywide design guidelines
  • Downtown guidelines
  • Neighborhood-specific guidelines

The neighborhood-specific guidelines are divided into districts, which you can read more about here.

City Council Adopted Plan

September 26, 2017 Community Open House

June 19, 2017 Community Open House

February 25-27, 2017 Community Workshops

January 28, 2017 Community Meeting

State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Determination

We refined our Central Area Design Guidelines based on public input and are ready to move the legislation forward. The Central Area Design Guidelines will guide future development to reflect the unique historical character of the Central Area community; retain the rich characteristics valued by the community's long term residents as well as its new and future residents; and facilitate inclusive and equitable growth and development. The creation of a Central Area Design Review District and Board will support equitable and inclusive community engagement and process specific for those most impacted by displacement, maximize the effectiveness of the Central Area Design Guidelines, and help guide future development to respond to the unique Central Area historical character and identity.

On October 16, 2017, we published the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Determination of Non-Significance for the draft legislation, draft Central Area Design Guidelines and a Director's Report.

Supplemental Documents

Central Area Neighborhood Plan Documents

23rd Avenue Action Plan Documents

The Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District

Central Area Commercial Revitalization Plan

Planning and Community Development

Rico Quirindongo, Director
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 94788, Seattle, WA, 98124-7088
Phone: (206) 386-1010

The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) develops policies and plans for an equitable and sustainable future. We partner with neighborhoods, businesses, agencies and others to bring about positive change and coordinate investments for our Seattle communities.