Urban design and planning in Tallahassee promote quality in the "public realm"- streets, sidewalks, and places in the city shaped by groups and series of buildings, given character by architecture and landscape, and providing pedestrian comfort in the way the buildings meet the sidewalk. The city is continuous, and the eye crosses parcel lines, so in a visual sense the public realm is everywhere and belongs to everyone. With appropriate direction, public vision and private development can come together to create seamless, memorable urban places. The best urban design-public and private-will reveal, enhance, or create a "sense of place."
In the Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Department, good urban design in the public realm is the basis for design standards and guidelines that have been adopted for design review districts in the Gaines Street Study Area and other parts of the city. Compliance with the regulations is part of the permitting process. Along with the Growth Management Department, the Urban Design Commission reviews projects to ensure that they contribute to what is envisioned for their location.
The City of Tallahassee's Urban Design Commission (UDC) was created in 2005:
- To promote high quality design in new developments, new buildings, and modifications to existing buildings in the Design Review Districts (ASN-A, -B, -C, -D, and UV), in Urban Planned Unit Developments (U-PUDs) in the Downtown Zoning Districts, and in other places in the City as directed by the City Commission.
- To ensure that development at any scale in those areas conserves and enhances what is recognized as special about the existing character of a location, and that infill development is appropriate to its context.
- To advocate the best urban design, with special emphasis on street character, relationships between buildings, and the pedestrian's safety, comfort, and sense of place.
- To foster civic pride in the beauty and nobler assets of the City, and in all other ways possible assure a functionally efficient and visually attractive City in the future.
The UDC is a Citizen Advisory Board composed of seven members, generally from the private sector. Information about the UDC, by-laws and current membership can be found on the City Treasurer-Clerk web page
The Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Department provides staff support to the UDC. Throughout the design process, the Planning Department's urban design professionals can assist developers with designing project concepts that shape and support quality in the public realm in the city's reviving urban core.
UDC review may occur concurrently with the type B or other site plan review process. The Growth Management Department will not approve site plans without UDC approval.