downtown buildings with trees and flags

Downtown Overlay District

The Hopkins downtown overlay district was adopted in order to meet the following goals:

  1. Preserve the small-town, unique character of Mainstreet Hopkins
  2. Complement the existing historic architecture
  3. Enhance the pedestrian orientation of downtown Hopkins and encourage streetscape design that is inviting and on a human scale
  4. Communicate the community's vision for the Mainstreet area.

The boundaries of the overlay district are as follows:

  • South side of 1st St. N. to north side of 1st St. S.
  • West side of 6th Ave. to the east side of 13th Ave.

Design guidelines


Awning 1

Objective: To enhance the historic feel of Mainstreet while providing sun protection for display windows, shelter for pedestrians, and a sign panel for businesses.

Guideline: Retractable or operable awnings are encouraged. Long expanses of awning should be broken into segments that reflect the door or window openings beneath them.

Standard: Awnings cannot extend across multiple storefronts and/or multiple buildings. Awnings must be constructed of durable, protective, and water repellant material, however, plastic or fiberglass awnings are not allowed. Backlighting or illuminating awnings is not allowed. Awnings must project a minimum of 36" from the building.

Awning 2 Awning 3



Objective: Signs should be architecturally compatible with the style, composition, materials, colors and details of the building and with other signs on nearby buildings, while providing for adequate identification of the business.

Three-Dimensional Signage

Guideline: Symbolic and historic three-dimensional signs such as barber shop poles and appropriately-sized projecting signs are encouraged. Signage should have the capability of being lit in the evening, although the source of light must not be visible to motorists or pedestrians.

Painted Signage

Signs constructed of natural materials such as metal or wood are preferred. Permanently painted window signage is encouraged if compatible with the architecture of the building (see example). Painted window signs should not consume more than one-third of the glazed area of the window.

Temporary Signage

Neon signs are permitted on the exterior of the building and in display windows, if not covering more than one-third of the window surface area.

Neon Signage

Standard: Internally illuminated signs (not including neon) are prohibited except for theater signage. Pylon and monument signage is prohibited on Mainstreet. Temporary window signage is limited to one-third of the window surface area. The combination of neon signage, permanently painted signage and temporary signage should not exceed a total of two-thirds of the window surface area.

Projecting Signage

Projecting signs must be no greater than 12 square feet and have a maximum width of three feet and cannot extend beyond the first floor of the building. No less than 10 feet of clearance shall be provided between the sidewalk elevation and the lowest point of the projecting sign. Maximum distance between sign and building face is one foot. Signs cannot block or obliterate design details, windows or cornices of the building upon which they are placed.


Objective: New development and redevelopment should complement the existing pattern of building heights.

Standard: Buildings in the overlay district may not exceed four stories and 45 feet in height.


Objective: Buildings in the overlay district should work together to create the "wall of buildings" effect associated with traditional "Main Street" areas.

Standard: New construction and infill buildings must maintain the alignment of facades along the sidewalk edge. Exceptions may be granted if the setback is pedestrian-oriented and contributes to the quality and character of the streetscape. An example would be for outdoor dining. In instances where there are parking areas abutting the street, the sidewalk edge must be delineated with pillars and fencing that is consistent with the City of Hopkins streetscape theme.

Roofs & Parapets

Objective: Rooflines should mimic the separate yet complementary rhythm of historic Mainstreet buildings.

Guideline: Flat roofs (slightly sloped to drain) are preferred with parapets that articulate the rhythm of the buildings. Parapets should be embellished with brick detailing and stepped or sloped to achieve a visually interesting yet harmonious sequence along the building façade.

Standard: Sloped roofs are not allowed unless the roof form is concealed by a parapet or false front. Exceptions may be granted if the sloped roof is used on top of a multi-story building to help reduce the overall height of the façade and define the residential character of the upper floors.

Utility Areas & Mechanical Equipment Screening

Unscreened Mechanical Equipment

Objective: Utility areas and mechanical equipment should be designed so that they do not detract from the aesthetic appeal of the district.

Screened Mechanical Equipment

Standard: The screening of exterior trash and storage areas, service yards, loading areas, transformers and air conditioning units must use the same materials, color and/or style as the primary building in order to be architecturally compatible with the building it is adjacent to.

If the utility area is separate from the building it serves, it should be consistent with the City of Hopkins streetscape theme. All roof equipment must be screened from public view if visible from the street.

All exterior trash and storage areas, service yards, loading areas and air conditioning units must be screened from view. Camouflaging air conditioning units is an acceptable screening method.

Unscreened Trash Area Screened Trash Area


Objective: To break up the monotonous appearance of long facades.

Standard: A building more than 45 feet in width should be divided into increments of no more than 45 feet through articulation of the façade. This can be achieved through combinations of the following techniques:

  • Divisions or breaks in materials
  • Window bays
  • Separate entrances and entry treatments
  • Variation in roof lines
  • Building setbacks

Fenestrations (Windows & Doors)


Objective: To encourage large, open views into the commercial space enhancing the pedestrian experience by providing a visual connection to the use inside the building. On upper levels, windows should provide privacy while aesthetically and functionally serving the building.


Guideline: The restoration or renovation of a storefront should attempt to return the façade to its original character. Preserve original materials or details and the shape and size of original window openings. Replace missing original elements such as transom windows.


On upper floors, the windows should be vertically oriented. Arched tops, columns framing the windows and decorative lintels are encouraged.

Standard: A minimum of 30% of the ground level façade and sides of buildings adjacent to public right of ways shall be transparent (windows and doors). A minimum of 15% of the building's rear façade facing a public right of way, parking area or open space shall be transparent. Reflective or glass tinted more than 40% is not allowed.

Materials & Detailing

Materials & Detailing

Objective: Rehabilitation or redevelopment projects should be constructed to be long lasting and use materials and detailing that maintains the distinct character and harmony of the downtown.

Materials & Detailing

Guideline: Traditional materials including brick, stone (including cast stone) and stucco should be used as the primary building materials.

Arches As Details

Tile, stone, glass block, copper flashing, metal and wood should be considered for accent materials. Preferred is a high level of design and architectural detail. At rear entrances the primary materials should be used in a way that highlights the entrance.

Arches As Details

Infill construction should reflect some of the detailing of surrounding buildings in window shape, cornice lines and brick work.

Building renovation and alterations should restore architectural details of cornices, brickwork, transom, display windows and bulkheads.

Infill Construction With Arch

Standard: The following materials are not allowed on the façades or sides of buildings adjacent to public right of ways:

  • Concrete block or brick larger than 4" in height, 12" in length
  • Aluminum, vinyl or fiberglass siding or roofing materials
  • Concrete masonry units
  • Materials that attempt to mimic traditional materials. An example would be fiberglass panels that are molded to look like brick

Painting previously unpainted brick is not allowed.

Detailing Detailing Detailing


Objective: To encourage a varied but complimentary use of color.

Guideline: The color of buildings should complement the adjacent buildings' colors. The color of brick or other natural building materials should dictate the color family choice. Bricks in the red and brown tones are encouraged. Buildings should use primarily earth tones with light and bright colors use only as minor accents. The accent colors should complement the primary color.

Franchise Architecture

Franchise Architecture

Objective: To maintain the unique character of Hopkins downtown, buildings should not be branded using an architectural style of a company.

Franchise Architecutre

Standard: Franchise architecture (building design that is trademarked or identified with a particular chain or corporation and is generic in nature) is not allowed.

Franchises or national chains must follow these standards to create a unique building that is compatible with downtown Hopkins.

Franchise Architecture


Street Bench

Objective: The streetscape should be uniform so that it acts to provide continuity throughout the downtown.

Public Trash Can

Guideline: When making improvements to private property, including the addition of benches, trash receptacles, fencing, bike racks, or trash enclosures, owners should match the approved Hopkins styles for these elements.

Standard: When a redevelopment project disturbs existing streetscape elements those items must be replaced with approved Hopkins streetscape elements.

Bike Rack Tree Grate Bench Masonry Piers & Ornamental Fence Brick Pavers - Herringbone Pattern Street Light



Objective: Lighting in the downtown should serve to illuminate façades, entrances and signage and provide an adequate level of personal safety while enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the buildings.

Guideline: Avoid colored lighting schemes in order to achieve continuity in building lighting within the downtown.

Standard: Building and signage lighting must be indirect, with the light source(s) hidden from direct pedestrian and motorist view. For exterior sign illumination, shaded gooseneck lamps are encouraged.


Objective: Parking in the downtown should adequately serve the users without detracting from the compact design that makes it a successful commercial center.

Guideline: Parking lots should be kept small and close to the businesses served. Larger parking lots should have visual breaks of four-season landscaping treatments.

Standard: Off-street parking must be located in the rear of buildings on Mainstreet.


Hanging Flower Basket

Objective: Landscaping treatments should be used to enhance the pedestrian experience, complement architectural features and/or screen utility areas.

Guideline: The use of flower boxes, planters and hanging flower baskets is encouraged.

Flower Box Planter Flower Bed

Rear Entrances

Objective: To provide a rear entrance to the buildings on Mainstreet that is welcoming.

Guideline: The rear entrance should be clean and well maintained. A small sign, awnings, display windows and planter boxes can improve the appearance.

About the guidelines

Guidelines are intended to convey desirable elements. They are recommendations and not requirements, unless public financing is involved in the construction or rehabilitation of the building. Standards identified are requirements and enforced through the City's Planning Department.

The standards outlined will apply to the following:

  • All newly constructed buildings
  • All exterior building improvements and signage changes under $150,000 that require a building and/or sign permit (only standards applicable to the changed element apply)
  • Renovation over the Conditional Use Permit threshold, currently set at $150,000 in value (all applicable standards apply)
  • All new or reconstructed parking areas with 5 or more spaces.

Any building, parking area or sign that lawfully existed before May 15, 2003, when Ordinance 03-900 went into effect, which would now not be permitted, may continue as legal non-conforming.



  • City Planner

  • Planning & Zoning Commission

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