Urban Villages

​​​A major part of our Comprehensive Plan involves master planning for urban villages. These villages give our community the opportunity to develop a vibrant mix of residential and commercial uses, create a unique redevelopment vision for Bellingham, boost economic development and encourage a safe and attractive pedestrian experience. In short, urban villages offer a smart and sustainable way to grow and improve our community. 

This update aims to create a more predictable design review process and establish a clear differentiation between standards and guidelines.

Much of Bellingham’s growth strategy revolves around the success of urban villages. In 2018, the City evaluated the growth and current status of implementation of each adopted urban village plan. The final status report summarizes the findings and provides recommendations for how the City can remove barriers and encourage further redevelopment as envisioned in each urban village plan.

Our experienced Urban Village Team is here to help you through the process! They offer priority review of land-use permits, and will walk you through available financial incentives, such as:

  • Bellingham Opportunity Zones: Portions of ​Bellingham’s downtown and waterfront, the Samish Way urban village, and the nearby Lummi Nation have all been designated Opportunity Zones. Investments in these areas qualify for substantial tax incentives under this new federal program.
  •  Multi-family Tax Exemption Program: Get an 8-12 year property tax exemption on the residential value of new multi-family construction.
  • B & O Tax Reduction: New businesses and branches that locate in Downtown, Old Town, Waterfront, Samish Way or Fountain are eligible for a graduated tax credit of 90% for the first year, 75% for the second year, and 50% for the third year of operation.  Contact the Business License Services / Tax line at 360-778-8012 for more information.
  • Transportation Impact Fee (TIF) Reduction: Take advantage of automatically-reduced Transportation Impact Fees (TIF) in these areas. The less transportation impact your project has, the better. Check out this program’s FAQ’s for details.
  • The Downtown Main Street Program: This program allows any business to write-off a portion of their State B&O taxes in support of the Downtown Bellingham Partnership (DBP). Contact the DBP at 360-527-8710 for more information.


For more information, contact business@cob.org  or 360-778-8105.

Planning & Community Development