Apply for a Certificate of Appearance Approval

Do you want to make exterior changes to your downtown property?

To protect and enhance our downtown appearance, the city's Appearance Review Staff can help you get a Certificate of Appearance and any necessary permits to complete your project.


Step 1.Determine if you need a Certificate of Appearance approval

The following projects usually need certificates of appearance approval:

  • Streetscaping, landscaping, parks or plaza
  • Signs
  • New construction
  • Sidewalk cafes
  • Equipment and utilities visible from the public right-of-way
  • Awnings and canopies
  • Fences, walls, retaining walls, street walls and gates
  • Exterior paint color, material and finish 
  • Driveways, walkways, steps and paving
  • Exterior lights
  • Public and private art visible from the public right-of-way
  • Post-demolition condition of vacant land
  • Solar installations on commercial properties

The following are exempt from Appearance Review Board review:

  • All work associated with a single or two-family residential use, except for the post-demolition condition of vacant land
  • Maintenance work that doesn’t involve a change of materials or design
  • Structures and improvements approved for temporary use (less than 61 days)
  • Work on property within a Historic Preservation overlay district or on a designated Orlando historic landmark is subject to review by the Orlando Historic Preservation Board based on ARB appearance standards

Step 2.Check your location

Make sure your property is located in the Community Redevelopment Agency’s Downtown Community Redevelopment Area.

View Maps & Details

Step 3.Contact the Appearance Review Board

Call the Appearance Review Board at 407.246.2172 to set up a meeting to discuss your project.

Step 4.Gather your materials

You will need to provide:

  • Detailed project plans
  • Photographs
  • A list of proposed materials
  • Floor plans to scale
  • Existing and proposed square footage
  • Demolition reports
  • Elevations, site plans and surveys

Step 5.Fill out an application

City staff will provide you an application, the application must be completed by the property owner or an authorized agent.

Step 6.We will contact you

We will contact you with a project number to upload plans and a billing statement. Major review applications are $250.

Step 7.Upload your project plans

You will receive an email from The email will include a link to ProjectDox and will assign you with a temporary password to log in.

Submit Your Plans

Step 8.We'll review your request

City staff will review your application and contact you within five business days.

Step 9.Minor reviews will get a written decision

If you qualify for a minor review, we'll let you know if it was approved, approved with conditions or denied. You will receive this decision within 15 days of the completeness determination. If it was approved, you will receive your Certificate of Appearance Approval within 5 days of the written decision. You can then being filing for building permits. If you would like the request reviewed by the Appearance Review Board, you can file that request with the board within five days of the written determination.

Step 10.We'll schedule your application for the Appearance Review Board

If you are applying for a major review or your would like the board to hear your minor review application, city staff will schedule your application for an upcoming Appearance Review Board meeting.

Step 11.Post your public notice placard

You will be provided a public notice placard that must be placed on your property at least seven days prior to your scheduled Appearance Review Board meeting.

Step 12.We'll issue a staff report

At least seven days prior to the Appearance Review Board Meeting, we'll post a staff report as part of the meeting agenda.

Step 13.Attend the Appearance Review Board meeting

The Appearance Review Staff will present their recommendations to the board and you should attend to answer any questions. Final approval will be granted by City Council.

Step 14.Get your Certificate of Appearance

If approved by the Appearance Review Board and City Council, we will notify you and your certificate will be in the "approved" folder in ProjectDox within five days of the City Council meeting. A list of conditions may be included.

Step 15.Get your permits

You may now apply for any required permits.

Apply for Permits