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More About Place Types

This digital guide is organized by place type. Each of the eight place types describe the context for a great street. The place types are intended to guide the user through the appropriate recommendations but real places are complex and may require referencing more than one place type.
Downtown Main Street | Mixed-Use District | Small Town Downtown | Residential Neighborhood
Office Employment Area | Civic/Educational Corridor | Neighborhood Shops | Commercial/Service Corridor
Downtown Main Street
Downtown Main Streets are principal streets in downtowns (central business districts) of cities. While there may be a single street that is thought of as being the “main street” (and may or not be named Main Street), this place type applies to all of the significant streets in urban downtowns. These streets may vary in scale and in official functional classification. Downtowns are large mixed use districts encompassing retail, office employment, residential, civic and lodging uses in multi-story buildings. Streets are generally commercial in nature and residential uses occur in the upper floors of multi-use buildings. Learn More
Mixed-Use District
Mixed Use Districts and Transit Oriented Developments are mixed use districts and may be designated for transit oriented development in cases where high capacity transit exists or is planned. Mixed use districts contain a mix (horizontal and vertical) of uses spanning some combination of the primary urban land use categories – retail, office employment, residential and lodging. Densities may vary, but generally most of the buildings in a mixed use district would be multi-story and there would be little or no single family detached housing.  All or most residential space would be in multifamily buildings, many of which would have other uses at ground level and perhaps on other levels as well. Mixed use districts generally would not have industrial land uses or any significant amount of warehousing or storage buildings. Learn More
Small Town Downtown
Small Town Downtowns are commercial areas of towns and small cities that have some standing as the traditional downtown of that town or city. They are distinct from Downtown Main Streets not just in terms of scale but also might have a less robust mix of uses. For example some small downtowns might no longer have significant amounts of residential uses present within the downtown. Some smaller urban places do not have downtowns, per se, and may aspire to creation of activity centers that could function as downtown-like places. Such newer activity centers are more likely to fit into one of the other categories below, but planning for them could use this category as a planning and design standard. The principal through street in many small town downtowns is a state highway. Learn More
Residential Neighborhood
Residential Neighborhoods are generally occupied only by residential uses, although small areas of neighborhood shops could be embedded within them or along an edge of the neighborhood. This place type could include almost any type of residential structures, from single-family detached housing to multi-story apartment buildings. However, as the density increases, the likelihood that other uses – commercial streets, office buildings, etc. – would be present increases. In such cases, some streets with only residential frontages would fit in this place type, but other streets might fit into one of the other place types below. Learn More
Office Employment Area
Office/Employment Areas are larger concentrations (more than a few buildings) of office employment that may be oriented along a single corridor or may occur within an office park or campus-style setting. Such areas are characterized by significant amounts of parking – either in large surface lots or in parking structures, are generally dense enough that most buildings would be two or more stories. Other uses may be embedded in this place type, including a small number of residential buildings or some ground floor retail. However, if such other uses represent more than about 20% of the square footage, the area may fit better in the Mixed Use District place type described above. Learn More
Civic/Educational Corridor
Civic/Educational Corridors are areas located along significant urban streets where university buildings, public sector office buildings (federal, state or local) and certain kinds of public plazas associated with such buildings are found in some concentration. Often the architecture may be grander and more institutional than ordinary office buildings. Generally, such areas are characterized by significant amounts of parking – either in large surface lots or in parking structures. Many buildings will be two or more stories in height. In some cases, a major arterial will have characteristics of this place type on one side of the street, but may have another place type on the other side of the street – a residential neighborhood, for example, or a commercial corridor. Learn More
Neighborhood Shops
Neighborhood Shops occur as a cluster of retail and service establishments serving residential neighborhoods within a half mile radius. They may include grocery stores, banks, restaurants, dry cleaners, bakeries, cafes and possibly gas stations. Generally such areas are not more than a block in extent along the principal street and are probably less than a block in depth away from the principal street. Residential uses may be present, but major office buildings or civic uses generally would not be. Learn More
Commercial Service Corridor
Commercial/Service Corridors are urban streets that are not sufficiently dense to be thought of as a downtown and also generally will not have a traditional identity as the downtown in that community. Land uses will be primarily retail and service in nature (grocery stores, auto-oriented retail, restaurants, branch banks, shopping centers, etc.) and will draw most of their business from pass-by traffic in the principal corridor. This place type will draw customers from a more regional service area than the neighborhood shops – up to a mile or two in radius, or even more in some cases – and will not have as strong a relationship with nearby residential neighborhoods. Often there will be no residential uses embedded within this place type, which is a diagnostic feature. Learn More