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Zoning Code Amended to Allow Additional Business Uses in the Central Business District

City of Highland Park Amends Zoning Code to Allow Additional Business Uses in the Central Business District
Elimination of the Pedestrian Oriented Shopping Overlay removes restrictions requiring retail businesses in ground-floor spaces

November 2, 2020 – The City of Highland Park has eliminated the Pedestrian-Oriented Shopping Overlay (POSO) policy in its Central Business District (CBD). This policy change lifts restrictions that limited ground-floor tenants within the POSO boundary to retail or retail-oriented businesses. By permitting a greater number of uses, the City anticipates diversifying the mix of businesses in the CBD and increasing commercial investments in its vibrant downtown. Removal of the POSO enables property owners to seek out tenants providing a variety of services, not just retail, a measure that is aligned with pre-pandemic consumer trends such as the increasing prevalence of e-commerce and growth in new sectors such as medical retail.

With the elimination of the POSO, the zoning for the CBD is now B5.  A list of allowable uses in the B5 District is available at The move follows other policy changes designed to attract new businesses and improve the economic vitality of the area, including the February 2020 adoption of “experiential uses” for both the POSO and B5 Districts. That measure expanded the permitted uses in these zoning districts to welcome businesses providing cultural, recreational, and entertainment services alongside retail, such as art studios, meeting and event venues, and tasting shops.

The POSO was originally adopted in 2004 to enhance the City’s walkable downtown shopping district. In the years following its adoption, City Council approved amendments to remove certain properties from the POSO following requests from property owners to introduce new uses of their ground floor spaces, such as medical offices. In 2017, City Council approved modifications to the boundaries of the POSO to focus retail use in the core of the CBD and provide greater flexibility for other commercial spaces in the district, with the expectation that the policy would be further reviewed as part of the City’s 2020 work plan.

For more information about the uses now permitted in the CBD or the elimination of the POSO, please contact the Community Development Department, Planning Division at 847.432.0867. For information concerning business development and efforts to support local businesses during the pandemic, please contact the Business Development Division at 847.926.1027.