Downtown Overlay District Review

The Downtown Hazleton Overlay District

downtown-hazleton-overlay-district-illustrated-guidelines.jpgHistorically, Downtown Hazleton was a compact commercial district with bustling shops, restaurants, and a variety of other business establishments that served the surrounding region. Many of the downtown’s buildings, which were built in early 20th-century, were designed for retail use to appeal to shoppers who walked the city’s streets, including inviting entrances, window displays, and signage that drew pedestrians off the city’s street and into the building interiors.

Due to changing economic conditions, many of the core downtown’s buildings no longer serve their intended retail purpose and have been vacated or adapted for office space or other institutional uses that no longer need to be as inviting to the pedestrian, particularly along Broad Street. Others suffer from years of deferred maintenance, while others have been demolished. This has left the commercial core with many empty buildings in need of adaptive reuse and renovation, and vacant lots that deter pedestrian activity within the downtown and discourage investment. A lack of standards and guidelines has also resulted in lack of a unified streetscape, with many types of awnings, signs, and materials applied to building facades.

The Broad Street Corridor Project, which is expected to be complete in 2013, will result in new sidewalks, lighting, street trees, and other streetscape improvements along Broad Street. In order to build upon these improvements, the City of Hazleton has established a Downtown Overlay District to guide future development and rehabilitation of the City’s commercial core that will make the downtown more visually cohesive and pedestrian friendly. Specifically, the goals of this overlay district are to:

  • Preserve and reinforce the historic commercial architecture and urban character of the core downtown district while allowing innovative and creative infill development, site design, and architecture that continuously evolves over time.
  • Promote a vibrant downtown that supports commercial and cultural activities.
  • Enhance the pedestrian safety and orientation of downtown Hazleton to encourage walkability.
  • Enhance the City’s attractiveness to residents and visitors alike.
  • Promote downtown investment, stimulate business, and attract new business.

The Downtown Overlay District guidelines are not meant to stifle creativity or individuality. The City of Hazleton does not want every building in downtown to be painted the same color or be adorned with the exact same signage and awnings. Individual business and property owners are encouraged to be creative in thinking about the image that new and renovated buildings will portray as part of the entire downtown community. When in doubt, do not hesitate to call the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Overlay Review Committee office at 570-455-1509 with questions and ideas. Sample photos, reference materials, paint palettes and awning materials and colors are available to all downtown business and property owners interested in making improvements.

pdf View the City of Hazleton Downtown Overlay District Illustrated Design Guidelines
pdf View the City of Hazleton Downtown Overlay District Recommended Color Groups

pdf View the Certificate of Appropriateness Application Guidelines
pdf Download the Certificate of Appropriateness 

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