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Design Review - Full

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What Is It?

Full Design Review is required for mid- and large-sized commercial and residential development projects such as:

  • An office building or apartment building
  • Commercial or multifamily development; not a single-family home
  • Large projects that meet the size thresholds in certain zones

Design Review considers multiple aspects of a building and site such as:

  • The overall appearance of the building
  • How the proposed building relates to adjacent sites and the overall street frontage
  • How the proposed building relates to unusual aspects of the site, like views or slopes
  • Pedestrian and vehicular access to the site
  • Quality of materials, open space, and landscaping

For full Design Review projects, we hold public meetings where the Design Review Boards review projects during the early design guidance and recommendation phases.

Our review process includes an opportunity for public comment and involvement before we approve your design. You may request "departures" from the Land Use Code as part of your Design Review proposal.

To find the design guidelines that apply to your project, go to our Design Review Guidelines page. There you can find the citywide (multifamily and commercial buildings) and neighborhood-specific design guidelines.

How Much Does It Cost?

Our review fee is $315 per hour. You need to pay up front for the first 10 hours of review when you submit your application. After we accept your application, we will send you a monthly invoice for all review time completed in that billing cycle. If you do not pay your invoice, we will stop reviewing your project.

How Long Does It Take?

Our review process depends on several factors:

  • The quality of your plans and project documentation
  • Your response time to correction letters and requests for further information
  • Public interest in your project

Your project may qualify for a shorter review if it meets criteria for the Streamlined Design Review or the Administrative Design Review.

Steps to get Your Permit:


1. Pre-Submittal

Get your property information. Find property information to help you plan your project.

Find incentives for your project. Research the City's different incentives that might apply to your project.

Coordinate with other agencies. You may need permits or approvals from other agencies. These are the most common agencies you may need to work with for your permit type:

Apply for a pre-submittal conference. At the pre-submittal conference we will go over the Design Review process and your project questions. You need to bring the following documents to the Applicant Services Center:

Read our pre-application report. We'll send you a pre-application report with preliminary reviews by our site inspector, land use planner, and drainage reviewer. We will also include preliminary reviews by the Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle City Light. Our report will highlight the required street or alley improvements for your project and may include other relevant project or code issues.

2. Early Design Guidance

Submit early design guidance application. Following your pre-submittal conference, submit the following early design guidance (EDG) documents to the Applicant Services Center:

Pay fees. EDG fees are listed on the back of the Land Use Application Fee Requirements

Prepare for your EDG meeting. We will contact you with a meeting date. Once we schedule a meeting we'll give you our comments and feedback on your draft EDG packet developed using the EDG Packet Checklist.

Wait for public notice and public comments. Once your meeting is scheduled we publish a public notice about your meeting on the Land Use Information Bulletin section of our website and at the project site and mail it to people within 300 feet of your site.

Submit final EDG packet. Bring 8 copies of your final EDG packet to us on the 22nd floor and upload your EDG packet to our website. We'll send your packet to the board.

Attend your EDG meeting. You must present your proposal to the Design Review Board and the public.

  • During the meeting, the community is invited to comment on your project
  • The Design Review Board will discuss your project and provide guidance
  • We will send a meeting report to you and other interested parties and post it on our website

3. Master Use Permit Application

Schedule an intake appointment. Call (206) 684-8850 to schedule an intake appointment at the Applicant Services Center. See the next available appointment times.

Submit your Master Use Permit application. Submit the following at your intake appointment:

Pay fees. You must pay a deposit for your review and noticing fees at intake. We will invoice you monthly for additional review fees. We will stop reviewing your project if you do not pay your monthly invoice.

Wait for public notice. Once you have installed the large white sign and sent in the online notification form, we will issue a public notice for your project as required by SMC 23.76.012, including posting in the Land Use Information Bulletin. We will start a 14-day public comment period on your project. The comment period can be extended for another 14-days by request. We'll consider all public comments we receive during the project review.

Make corrections and resubmit your plans. Once all of our reviews are done, we will contact you to pick up your plan sets and make corrections. Your project may require multiple correction rounds before our review is complete.

4. Design Recommendation

Develop design recommendation packet. Follow our directions for creating your draft design recommendation packet using the Recommendation Packet Checklist to submit with your corrected plans. Ten days before your recommendation meeting date with the board, submit 8 copies of your final packet to the reception area on the 22nd floor of the Seattle Municipal Tower and upload your packet to our website. We will send your packets to the board.

Prepare for design recommendation meeting.

  • We will schedule your meeting, review your corrected plans, and give you feedback on your draft recommendation packet
  • We will post your meeting on our website and mail notice to people interested in your project

Present your final design. Present your design development and response to the EDG to the board and community. The board will discuss your project and make recommendations. We will send a report to you and interested parties, and post it on our website.

5. Final Review and Decision

Make final corrections. Submit your response to our corrections and recommended design conditions.

Pay outstanding fees. Once our review is complete, you must pay any remaining fees before we publish our decision.

Read our decision. We will publish our decision on your project in our Land Use Information Bulletin once all reviews are complete. We will also send a notice of our decision to everybody that made a formal comment on your project. Our decision will include any required conditions of approval.

Submit an appeal. If you or a member of the public disagrees with our decision, you may file an appeal with the Hearing Examiner within 14 days from when we publish our decision.

Pay fees and pick up permit. Once we have approved your project, you will be contacted to pick up your permit at Plans Routing on the 20th floor. You will have to pay any outstanding fees before you can get your permit.

What Do You Want To Do?

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