The Downtown Subareas are intended to assist in achieving goals established by the Comprehensive Plan, Small Area Plans for specific geographic locations within the area encompassed by the downtown zones. Each sub-area may include multiple zone districts.

In the sub-areas the general use and design regulations for D zones are supplemented by additional use or design permissions, restrictions, or requirements. These vary by the geographic sub-area locations described in Subtitle I §§ 606 through 618. The sub-area use and design regulations are applied to sites based on their adjacency to a side or sides of certain designated segments of street rights-of-way.

The objectives of designating sub-areas and street segments, requirements, and permissions are to:

  • Strengthen retail, arts, and other preferred uses, through the establishment of a hierarchy of primary and secondary designated streets;
  • Enhance pedestrian environments;
  • Foster the building of open spaces and neighborhood centers;
  • Establish principal intersections as focal points for neighborhoods;
  • Establish massing transitions between areas with different uses or scales; and
  • Create upper story setbacks through the designation of other designated street segments to protect important vistas highlighted in the Comprehensive Plan.


primary streets

Designated street segments with the same classification generally have similar use and design requirements or permissions, but may also be modified by sub-area requirements as generally summarized below: 

  • Primary Street Segments generally have the most intensive use and design requirements, including strict regulations governing vehicular entrance openings;
  • Secondary Street Segments have similar use regulations as primary street segments, but often with less FAR requirements for certain uses, and less restrictive regulations governing ground floor heights and vehicular entrances/exits facing onto a designated secondary street; and
  • Tertiary Street Segments are generally regulated for upper story setbacks and are detailed within the regulations for individual subareas.

If a lot faces more than 1 designated street segment, each frontage is governed by the corresponding regulations for that designated street segment. For a structure with frontage on a designated primary, secondary, or other street segment, an applicant for a building permit or a certificate of occupancy involving 10,000 sq. ft. or more shall provide a copy of the application, or those portions of the application affected by the D zone provisions, to the Director of the Office of Planning at the time of filing with the Zoning Administrator.

The Director shall, within 10 business days of the filing, provide the Zoning Administrator with a memorandum setting forth the Office of Planning’s interpretation of the application’s compliance with the regulations of the relevant D zones.


For more information on the following topic, please see the corresponding referenced section:

  • Location-based Regulations for Downtown Sub-Areas and Designated Street Segments – Subtitle I, Chapter 6