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Chinatown Design Review Procedures

Photo of Chinatown Arch

The Director of Planning is required to review projects that the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) identified as located within Chinatown. Once an application is reviewed for completeness at DCRA, the Plan Review Coordinator will refer the project to the design review staff for Chinatown Design Review. The design review staff consults with the Chinatown Steering Committee.

Pursuant to Mayor’s Order No. 89-132, dated June 9, 1989, the Director of Planning shall review referred applications on the basis of the following:

  • Consistency of the proposed project with the District elements of the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital and the Chinatown Design Guidelines Study Report
  • Contribution of building design, including sign and awnings to the Chinese identity of Chinatown
  • Chinese character of public space improvements and the contribution of those improvements to increased pedestrian activity

If your project is major new construction proposed for Chinatown, it is strongly recommended that the owner submit a Chinatown Design Review application and design documents directly to the Office of Planning during the early phases of design prior to submitting construction documents for the DCRA Permit application process. Considering this option will save time during the approval process.


The contribution of building design, including sign and awnings to the Chinese identity of Chinatown

Various documents are listed, below, that will assist you with understanding the Municipal Regulation and the Chinatown Design Review Application Process.