Urban Villages

​​​One of the City’s primary growth strategies has been the establishment of a series of “urban villages”. These urban village plans support the creation of vibrant mixed residential and commercial neighborhoods, 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. 

More information and links to each urban village are provided below.

Bellingham’s seven (7) urban villages comprise less than 4% of the city’s land area but are expected to accommodate 30% of future growth. This permit data tracks how new residential construction and job growth compare to 20-year Comprehensive Plan goals.

The City offers the following incentives for projects within designated urban villages:

  • 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.

New development and redevelopment in urban villages requires review by the City’s Design Review Board and Historic Preservation Commission. Improvements to the urban village design standards, guidelines, and process were approved by City Council in December 2022 and will take effect on April 3, 2023.

Visit the Urban Village Design Review webpage for more information.


For more information, contact cd@cob.org  or 360-778-8300.

Planning & Community Development