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Downtown Urban Center

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

For over 120 years, property owners, businesses 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 with 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 public plazas
  • Additional downtown improvements including an outdoor rotating sculpture garden and pedestrian way-finding kiosks

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 may reduce the need for further review, for qualifying projects.
  • 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 - Reduced traffic impact fees in effect in the downtown to reflect reduced vehicle trip generation resulting from the excellent availability of transit service and non-motorized infrastructure.
  • 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. Reference Chapter 3.94 Auburn City Code (ACC).
  • Construction Sales Tax Exemption - Up to $100,000 refund from the City for eligible constructed-related sales tax. Reference ACC 3.60.036

Current and Recent Projects 

Divine Court Apartments
Divine Court (site of the former “Heritage Building”) is a 6-story mixed-use building on E Main St., on the west side of the B Street Plaza (the walkway that connects E Main St. to Safeway). The building includes 46 apartments and 42 micro-housing units (small apartments that utilize a shared central kitchen), 3,900 sq. ft. of ground-floor commercial space along E Main St. and the plaza.

Divine Court Apartment

Legacy Plaza Senior Apartments
Legacy Plaza, an eight-story mixed-use commercial property, is currently under construction at w Main St. and S Division St. and is also located in the heart of downtown Auburn. Once complete it will include 166 senior apartment units and approximately 8,000 square feet of ground level commercial space. Anticipated completion date of late 2021/early 2022.
Legacy Senior Apartments image

Auburn Station Parking and Access Improvements
Sound Transit is expanding access to Auburn Station for people who walk, drive, bike, and take transit. The project includes a new parking garage with up to 535 spaces for commuters located at 1st St. NW. Read the latest on the project on Sound Transit’s project page.

MultiCare Auburn Medical Center Pavilion
MultiCare Auburn Medical Center Pavilion is a 2-story 25,370 square foot pavilion housing 24 hospital beds with skybridge connection to the existing hospital. It will be located at 210 North Division Street. The project will include street improvements along both sides of North Division and new landscaped areas.

MultiCare Auburn Medical Center Pavilion

Auburn Downtown Plan Update

The City is underway with an update to the Auburn Downtown Plan, last adopted in 2001. This plan discusses the future vision for downtown, it’s role in accommodating regional housing and employment growth, diverse development options, and strategies to enhance user experience and increase activation of public spaces in the future. For more information on the project please visit:

Zoning and Land Use

Properties located in the heart of Auburn’s urban center have a land use designation of Downtown Urban Center which is implementing by the DUC, Downtown Urban Center zoning district. The City’s Comprehensive Plan (specifically the Land Use Element) provides the policies that  inform the purpose and intent of the urban center. Auburn’s Municipal Code, Chapter 18.29, contains the governing regulations for properties zoned DUC. Auburn’s urban center is also an adopted subarea of the City, under City Ordinance No. 5549, and features its own subarea plan, which is incorporated by reference in the Comprehensive Plan. On a regional level, Auburn’s urban center is recognized as a regional growth center under the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Vision 2050. 

Key elements of the DUC zone include:

  • Ground floor retail, restaurants, and personal services 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 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.

"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.

For a deeper dive on the city’s economic development strategic plan and market area and data resource documents,  please visit Economic Development's Business Support page!

For questions about major projects outside of the Downtown Urban Center (DUC) please contact Planning Services!

Related Documents and Links

Comments or questions about Auburn's downtown? Contact the City's 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.