Downtown Design Review

In order to maintain the unique architectural style and history of Kalamazoo's downtown, guidelines have been established to shape new construction, rehabilitation, and other changes in the downtown area. These Downtown Design Review Standards and Guidelines are intended to function as a tool for architects, developers, and property owners planning building projects within the downtown area. The city of Kalamazoo encourages creativity and inventiveness in building redevelopment, new construction, and in the preservation of key architectural features that help define our downtown.

The Downtown Design Review Standards are created and applied by Kalamazoo's Downtown Design Review Committee (DDRC). DDRC membership includes city staff, staff from Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership., downtown residents, and downtown business owners. All projects in the Downtown Design Review District must be reviewed by the DDRC for compliance with these guidelines. 

Standards & Guidelines

The pdf Downtown Design Review Guidelines (3.54 MB)  are available as a single document or in individual sections below.

New Construction

pdf New Construction Standards & Guidelines (1.27 MB)  - These standards apply to an entirely new structure on a vacant site. This type of project will also require a site plan review. Signs, canopies, awnings, paving and street furniture as needed for the new building are covered separately in the  pdf Streetscape Standards & Guidelines (1.21 MB) . Applications for new construction projects are available  pdf here (48 KB) .

Existing Buildings

pdf Existing Buildings Standards & Guidelines (1.18 MB)  - These standards apply to an addition, rehabilitation, or restoration of an existing building. This section also covers information on the Haymarket Historic District and other designated historic sites in the downtown including a comprehensive list of designated historic buildings by street address. Signs, canopies, awnings and street furniture as needed for the new building are covered separately in the  pdf Streetscape Standards & Guidelines (1.21 MB) . Applications for existing building projects are available  pdf here (47 KB) .


pdf Streetscape Standards & Guidelines (1.21 MB)  - These standards apply to non-structural streetscape elements for a new or existing building. Signs, awnings, canopies, street furniture, sidewalk cafes, streetscape planting, paving and light fixtures are all discussed. Sidewalk cafes, sidewalk signs, overhanging signs, street furniture, awnings and canopies may also require an encroachment agreement from the city for the private use of the public right of way. Applications for streetscape are available  pdf here (46 KB) .

Review Process

There are two tiers of review for downtown projects. Which type of review a project is subject two depends on the type and scope of the work to be completed. 

Tier I Administrative Review

City of Kalamazoo and Downtown Development Authority (DDA) staff review plans and details with applicant and approve, approve with conditions, or refer the project as proposed to the DDRC at a weekly meeting for review.

  1. Applicant (owner, architect, sign fabricator) submits an application, including design-related project criteria, plans and drawings to the Downtown Design Review Coordinator.
  2. Downtown Design Review Coordinator and DDA staff review, and refer project to additional City of Kalamazoo staff as appropriate (for example, historic district, planning, zoning or permitting staff).
  3. City of Kalamazoo staff will approve the project as presented, approve the project with conditions, or deny project as proposed.
  4. Approved projects are cleared to submit sign, historic district and building permit applications as needed.

Tier II Downtown Design Review Committee Review

City of Kalamazoo and DDA staff review plans with the applicant and prepare recommendations for DDRC review. At their regularly scheduled weekly meeting (Tuesdays at 9 a.m.), the DDRC reviews the project and either approves, approves with conditions, or denies the proposal and forwards their comments to site plan review team. Site plan review is required for projects which expand the size or use of an existing structure or for new construction projects)

  1. Proposal submitted for Site Plan Review—typically Site Plan Review does not require elevations of the building.
  2. Proposal submitted for Downtown Design Review Committee (and Historic District Commission* if applicable). Application should include drawings with elevations, exterior details on cladding and finishing materials
  3. City of Kalamazoo and DDA staff review design-related project criteria, and prepare recommendation for DDRC.
  4. Site Plan Review Team approves, approves with conditions, or denies project as proposed (if required).

Street Listing

Below is a complete list by street address of those properties included in the Downtown Design Review District. Some of areas are also in local historic districts and are subject to Historic District Commission review (indicated by an * below).



 House Numbers

 Academy  to 753*
 Bates Alley  All
 N Burdick  to 459*
S Burdick  to 440 + 525
W Cedar  to 306
N Church  to 400
S Church  All
 Cooley  200 block
N Edwards  to 201
S Edwards  All*
 Eleanor  to 452
 Farmers Alley  All
 Gladys  All
 Henrietta  All
 Jasper  All
 John  to 500
N Kalamazoo Mall  All
S Kalamazoo Mall  All
 Kook  All
E Lovell  to 357
W Lovell  to 450
E Michigan  to 618*
W Michigan  to 729
W Michigan  odd numbers 739-763
W Michigan 762
N Park  to 436
S Park  to 347*
N Pitcher  to 201
S Pitcher  to 583
 Portage  to 439*
 Reese  All
 Rochester Ave.  All
N Rose  to 459
S Rose  to 340
E South  to 431
W South  to 400
 Saint Johns Place  All
E Walnut  All
W Walnut  even only to 125
E Water  All
W Water  All
N Westnedge  to 440
S Westnedge  to 343
E Willard  145, 167, 205, 261

City of Kalamazoo

Home to the Kalamazoo Promise, three institutions of higher education, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, cutting-edge medical research, world-class brewing and dining, outstanding parks, and an extensive variety of music, art, theatre, and cultural attractions.

 (269) 337-8000
 (269) 337-8182
 241 West South Street
     Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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