Downtown Urban Center

A Great Place to Live, Work, Play and Invest!

For 120 years, property owners, business large and small, and individuals have invested and succeeded in Downtown Auburn. Downtown Auburn is undergoing a renaissance. Recent and ongoing infrastructure investments by the City of Auburn, new businesses, commuter rail access, shopping and dining opportunities, and recreational and cultural amenities make Downtown Auburn a great place to live, work and play. And if you are a business or a developer, a great investment opportunity!

Public Sector Investment for Private Sector Benefit

Since 2010, the City of Auburn has been investing $10 million of federal and state funds in the South Division Street Promenade Project and other downtown projects to make it easier and more attractive for private sector investment.

The City has:

  • Relocated public and private utilities out of alleyways to remove infrastructure barriers for redevelopment of adjacent properties
  • Upgraded water, sewer, storm and private utilities - excess underground stormwater capacity exists for private new development to use
  • Installed new street paving
  • Constructed 10 to 20 foot wide sidewalks and landscaping
  • Installed new LED street lights throughout Downtown and a new traffic signal at Main Street and Division Street
  • Placed new street furniture, trash receptacles
  • Installed new ornamental gateway arch
  • Constructed new and improved downtown plazas
  • Scheduled additional downtown improvements including an outdoor rotating sculpture garden and pedestrian way-finding kiosks in Summer 2012 and Fall 2012, respectively

Why Invest in Downtown Auburn?

The City of Auburn is eager to work with businesses and developers who want to invest in Downtown Auburn. The City offers:

  • The Right Attitude - Auburn is client-focused with a commitment to problem solving and meeting or beating expectations. Not just a claim - ask others who have done recent business with the City.
  • Limited Environmental Review Required - Auburn completed an environmental impact statement for Downtown Redevelopment that reduces the need for further review.
  • Regional Urban Center - Puget Sound Regional Council designation paves the way for more density and land use intensity.
  • Design Certainty - City Council approved design standards for the Downtown Urban Center, providing both flexibility and certainty to keep costs down.
  • Reasonable Development Fees - No change in building, engineering and land use fees since 2009.
  • Deferred Impact Fee and System Development Charges - Fees can be paid at time of certificate of occupancy rather than at building permit issuance.
  • Multi-Family Property Tax Exemption - 8 year exemption for qualifying market rate multi-family housing. Email us for more information.
  • Construction Sales Tax Exemption - Up to $100,000 refund from the City for eligible constructed-related sales tax.

Current Projects

Auburn Town Center, a seven story 296,000 square foot mixed use commercial property, is currently under construction at 1st and South Division Street in the heart of downtown Auburn. Once complete it will include 226 market rate apartment units and approximately 2,000 square feet of ground level commercial space. Anticipated completion date of Spring 2021.

Auburn Town Center Time Lapse - First Six Months

Watch the live camera of this project.


All property in Downtown Revitalization Catalyst Area (PDF) is zoned "Downtown Urban Center" (DUC). Zoning was changed from C-2 (Central Business District) to DUC in early 2007 to better reflect the City goals and objectives for the downtown urban center. Outside the Downtown area but within the Urban Center boundary other zoning districts include: C2, C3, R2, R3, R4, P1, M1, and RO. Key elements of the DUC zone include:

  • Ground floor retail, restaurants, and personal service use are required for all building frontages facing Main Street.
  • Density is based on Floor Area Ratios (FAR). Code encourages residential uses south of Main Street and encourages commercial uses north of Main Street.
  • Generally, bonuses are given for features that support or increase pedestrian orientation and movement.
  • Minimum building height is two stories. Basic maximum building height is 75 feet, but can be exceeded via bonuses.

Downtown Parking

To guide parking policy development and implementation in downtown Auburn, City Council recently adopted the Comprehensive Downtown Parking Management Plan (CDPMP) (PDF) and (CDPMP - Appendix A (PDF)) via Resolution No. 5031 on February 3, 2014.

Work on the CDPMP began in summer 2011, in expectation of evolving parking needs that come from increases in investment, redevelopment activity, and Sounder commuter train service. To address those needs, the CDPMP includes an action plan with near-term, short-term, and long-term policies that aim to balance the parking needs of businesses, residences, visitors, and commuters. Implementation of the CDPMP's near- and short-term policies will commence soon.

"Where do I park?"

Please reference the linked parking map (PDF) for the current locations of free parking in public parking lots, City-issued permit parking for downtown businesses and residents, and privately operated permit parking lots. For more information regarding City-issued permit parking for downtown businesses and residents, please contact the Permit Center via email or 253-931-3090.

Related Documents and Links

Comments or questions about Auburn's downtown? Contact City of Auburn Planning Services via email or 253-931-3090. Please put the nature of your inquiry in the subject line, and include the parcel number or address of the site (if applicable) and your contact information in the email.