Central Business District Design Standards

New Providence has a small town atmosphere that is highly valued by residents and visitors alike. The sustained vitality of the downtown area depends on its continued ability to play a central role in the lives of its residents to fulfill daily needs and tasks, and leave a lasting impression on guests. For these reasons, more sensitivity to design is necessary in the downtown area than in other areas of the community.

Like most Town Centers, New Providence has a diverse array of buildings lining its downtown streets. This commercial district is not the product of any one historical time period, but rather reflects the changes in use and architecture that accompanied the growth of New Providence over the years. Commercial buildings ranging from the early twentieth century to the 1960s, 70s and 80s stand side by side with those only just completed. How these buildings relate to each other, and how well the old and new blend together, defines the look of a downtown area and the visual impact on visitors. Buildings, however, not only differ by age and design, but also by how they have been treated and altered over the years. Storefronts, signs, window displays, color, etc., all play an integral part in the successful appearance of individual buildings. Collectively, these individual elements can bring visual order to a district.

Although well-designed, larger scale improvement projects have a higher potential to affect the character of a building and overall appearance of the downtown and over time, these more aggressive repairs and alterations may be necessary or desired. However, everyday basic maintenance and minor repair work does not have to cost a lot to have a great visual impact. They should, however, be done with respect for the traditional image desired by the community. In order to facilitate progress toward the desired downtown improvements, a series of Design Standards have been developed, outlining guidelines for the aesthetic components that contribute to the positive appearance of a building and downtown streetscape. These standards provide the framework to bring more visual harmony to the Downtown District, and to create an attractive, pedestrian friendly-village atmosphere.

The principles recommended in these standards are things that any business owners would normally do to increase sales and profits, any property owner would normally do to preserve the value of his/her property. By encouraging creative design applications, these guidelines will contribute to an improved quality of life, economic vitality, and a positive visual image for the Borough. The goals of the design guidelines are as follows:


  1. Establish design standards for the Downtown that ensure more predictability about the form and character of alterations and new construction.
  2. To develop design standards that promote good civic design, physical continuity and high visual quality of site and building design.
  3. To promote physical design and community planning that assure that adjacent land uses function compatibly and harmoniously in terms of scale and location.
  4. To provide guidelines that encourage creativity and individual design, while establishing limitations
  5. To provide design direction to property owners, developers, designers, and decision-makers.

The community should utilize these guidelines whenever they make changes to their buildings. To help ensure cooperation there are several tools available to property, business owners and the Borough. Please read the New Providence Downtown Design Standards (PDF) for more information and details.