Olympia's Neighborhood Centers Project

What are Neighborhood Centers?

Neighborhood center in OlympiaNeighborhood Centers are small walk and transit-friendly business clusters within residential neighborhoods that serve the day-to-day retail and service needs of local residents and foster community interaction.

Neighborhood Centers are important to community-wide goals to increase walkability, reduce our carbon footprint, improve human health, and foster neighborhood connections and resiliency.

Olympia’s Comprehensive Plan identifies 17 general locations for neighborhood centers. The existing conditions of these sites vary - from thriving retail centers to vacant or completely undeveloped.

Creating Neighborhood Centers in Olympia

Despite long-held goals to encourage them, neighborhood centers have not manifested as envisioned over the past 20 years. The Olympia Planning Commission (OPC) has sought to find out why, and help create a successful path to achieving this important community goal.

Phase 1: Info Gathering (2014) Complete

The Commission gathered input about the public’s desires as well as barriers to neighborhood center development. They launched an online questionnaire on OlySpeaks.org and received 668 responses, and interviewed 13 business owners and 8 property owners who have operated a business, designed or developed a neighborhood center in Olympia.

Phase 2: Outreach

The Commissioner will reach out the neighborhoods and other stakeholder groups to share what they’ve learned about the success factors, challenges and opportunities associated with neighborhood center development. They are also seeking preliminary input about some potential changes in the City’s approach that could make neighborhood center goals easier to achieve.

Phase 3: Consideration of Regulation Changes

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing and consider regulatory changes to make neighborhood center goals easier to achieve.

  • Comprehensive Plan policy.
  • Visioning or master planning for specific neighborhood centers.
  • Regulations that apply to neighborhood centers areas that are located within master planned Urban Villages (Briggs) or Neighborhood Villages (Mill Pond, Woodbury Crossing). These villages all have approved master plans.

Additional Information & Resources


Contact Amy Buckler at 360.570.5847 or abuckler@ci.olympia.wa.us