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Welcome to the Berkley DDA Design Guidelines Informational page

In collaboration with the Berkley DDA, the Planning Commission completed the process to establish a Design Overlay Zoning District for all properties within the boundaries of the Downtown Development Authority.

On January 22, 2019, the Planning Commission held a Public Hearing on the proposed Design Overlay District. Following the Public Hearing, final revisions were discussed and action was taken in the form of a recommendation to City Council that the Design Overlay District be adopted.

On Tuesday, April 23, 2019, the Planning Commission held a Public Hearing on amending the Zoning Map to establish the proposed Design Overlay District. Following the Public Hearing, the Planning Commission took action to recommend to the City Council the adoption of the Design Overlay District and Design Review Board Ordinance.

The final step in the process will be discussion and action by City Council.

Click here to view a draft of the Design Overly District ordinance.

Why Design review Matters


Pressures of suburban growth and economic development can undermine the distinctive character and uniqueness of communities.


Well structured local government processes can assure that new development projects contribute to the character of the community and create great places of lasting value where people want to live, work and shop.

Over the years, the Municipal Design Review Network has gotten the question of why design review matters. To help answer that question, they’ve created a digital brochure about the design review process that can be used as a resource for municipalities considering design review.

DDA Presentation to Planning Commission and City Council: June 11, 2018, Public safety conference room

The DDA and its Design Guidelines consultant, Winter & Company, presented the final Draft Downtown Berkley Design Guidelines and talked about next steps.

Click on the graphic below to download the presentation:

Click on the image below to download a digital copy of the final Draft Design Guidelines.

Click on the image below to download a digital copy of the final Draft Design Guidelines Appendix.

The Second Public Input session: March 7, 2018, at the Collaborative Center @ Berkley High School

On Wednesday, March 7th, The DDA held an Open House from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Collaborative Center @ Berkley High School. This session provided an opportunity for residents and business/property owners to review and comment on the first draft of the Design Guidelines. Engagement from the community is critical to the success of these Guidelines.

As Downtown Berkley starts to become top of mind for area developers, making sure we have Design Guidelines, as well as processes and ordinances in place for proper development, is paramount.

First Public Input Session: September 27, 2017, at the Collaborative Center @ Berkley High School

Workshop Objectives:

  • Introduce - The project was introduced, including major project objectives, opportunities for community involvement, the role of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), schedule and other key items.

  • Educate - The workshop served as a means to educate community members on the project, including what Design Guidelines can do and what they cannot do so there are clear expectations.

  • Listen - The workshop provided an opportunity for the Cit y, consultants and DDA to listen to the wider community ’s hopes and concerns related to Downtown Berkley. The workshop also presented an opportunity for community members to listen to one another.

  • Explore/Discuss - The workshop encouraged participants to explore possibilities for the future of Downtown Berkley for a variety of topics.

  • Share - The workshop was an opportunity for sharing of ideas and opinions. Interactive exercises ensured an open dialogue between attendees and project team members.

Workshop Summary:

More  than  45  people,  including  residents,  local  business  owners,  design  professionals,  real estate professionals and property owners participated in the on-site Community Workshop #1 (an additional 51 online responses we re also received). The workshop began with a brief presentation that provided an overview of the Design Guidelines project, its goals and objectives. Following a short question and answer period, participants engaged in a series of three small group exercises which were facilitated by members of the DDA and the consultant:

Part 1: Examining the Downtown Berkley Context - Working within small groups, workshop participants discussed preliminary character area boundaries while also identifying key Downtown assets and critical issues that need to be addressed in the Design Guidelines. Participants worked together with an aerial map of the Plan Area and a set of stickers, each with icons representing Assets, Issues and Hidden Gems.


Part 2: Envisioning the Future of Downtown Berkley - In Part 2, workshop groups refined character area boundaries along each of the major corridors and identified future aspects for each character area. Images were then selected to illustrate compatible new residential, mixed-use, commercial  and  open  space  development  examples.

Most of the chosen images included brick buildings between 2-4 stories that are built to the sidewalk edge. Many of the buildings also included upper floor stepbacks for the third story and higher. Active, beautified sidewalks and outdoor social areas were often selected. Some images included minimal building setbacks to provide space for outdoor dining, landscaping or seating areas. The adaptive reuse of existing buildings was also a major point of attendee interest. There was a lot of consistency in image selection with over 20 images receiving multiple votes. The images most identified by attendees are shown below:

Part 3: Design Topics and Concepts - Individuals identified urban design topics that should be included in the Design Guidelines document and indicated the degree of importance for each design topic. Attendees also reviewed a series of urban planning concepts while providing input on degree of importance and additional comments for each. Individuals returned a broad set of responses to the list of provided design topics. Top responses include:

  1. Commercial Storefronts

  2. Outdoor Amenity Space

  3. Neighborhood Transitions

  4. Parking

  5. Architectural Details

  6. Building Placement & Orientation

  7. Materials & Finishes; Signs (tie)

  8. Building Mass, Scale & Height

  9. Buffers

  10. Energy Efficiency in Design

  11. Building Lighting

  12. Existing Historic Alterations

Activity Recap - At the end of the exercises, each group briefly shared the highlights of their group ’s  work  with  others  at  the  workshop.

Additional Comments - Top responses for the most important Downtown design objectives include:

  1. Attractive Street Character (26% of responses provided)

  2. Pedestrian-friendly Streets (23% of responses provided)

  3. Storm Water Management (16% of responses provided)

Top  attendee  groups  include:

  1. Residents (48% of responses provided)

  2. Business Owners (19% of responses provided)

  3. Property Owners (19% of responses provided)

NOTE: Not all attendees provided additional comments.

Download a PDF of the Community Input Session.

Why do we need design Guidelines?

Berkley’s commercial districts, especially those represented by the DDA, collectively represent the area of the City that help formulate “first impressions” for visitors, prospective residents, and potential investors.

Design Guidelines are a valuable tool for enhancing the aesthetic character and competitiveness of commercial districts and help ensure that those “first impression” are memorable for all the right reasons.

Our goal is for these Design Guidelines to be adopted by the City of Berkley and its Planning Commission and be used to enhance and revise current building and zoning codes. Long term, the Guidelines will be a tool to improve the appearance of the DDA District and, as a result, provide greater ROI for property owners, developers, and the City in the form of increased property values.

Goals for the Guidelines are:

  • Establish a quality appearance whether the building is historic or new construction

  • Encourage diversity in styles

  • Ensure that downtown continues to be a successful retail district

  • Create a contiguous sense of place

  • Preserve an authentic built environment

  • Preserve historic sense of place

  • Respect human scale

  • Respect adjacent buildings and businesses

  • Respect natural environment and encourage sustainable investment and infrastructure

The Guidelines will address things such as:

  • Building Height, bulk, placement, orientation, and proportion

  • Building Materials

  • Doors, windows, etc.

  • Rear entrances, facades

  • Parking areas and open spaces

  • Lighting

  • Signage

  • Awnings and canopies

  • Landscaping / site improvements

  • Public improvements

  • Streets

  • Sidewalks

  • Trash receptacles