Downtown Area Permitting

There are numerous steps to take before starting or relocating a business in an existing building in downtown Wake Forest. New and relocating business owners should thoroughly investigate what actions will be necessary prior to opening for business. Such due diligence is encouraged especially before signing a lease or purchasing property.

The Downtown/Renaissance Area encompasses approximately 220 acres within the heart of Wake Forest and is identified in the areas labeled RA-HC, RA-UC, and RA-C on the map shown on the right.

In general, the same building code standards apply to existing buildings in this district as they do for new construction. Existing buildings located in the Primary Fire District Limits are subject to more stringent construction standards. In addition, there are several options through the NC Building Code and/or the N.C. Rehabilitation Code available when renovating, altering or changing the use of an existing building. While the Rehabilitation Code is designed specifically for existing buildings such as those in the downtown, it does not alleviate the life safety requirements of the NC Building Code. In general, all development in the Renaissance Area should follow these basic steps:


Step 1: Pre-Submittal Meeting

Set up a pre-submittal meeting or contact the following:

  • Building & Fire Code Compliance - Contact Al Pruitt at 919-435-9520.

  • Zoning Conformance & Signage - Contact Kathryn Salisbury at 919-435-9518.

  • Appearance & Architectural Conformance - Contact Patrick Reidy at 919-435-9515.


Step 2: Apply For Permits

After you have completed the due diligence and met with the appropriate staff, a town representative can assist you in determining the plans required for submitting your permit application.

Basic Permit Types & Descriptions

Zoning Conformance Permit (no proposed renovations).

  1. Verify proposed use

  2. Any exterior changes (painting) require appearance conformance review

  3. Fire pre-occupancy inspection

Development Permit (proposed renovations)

Verify proposed use:

  • Approved building plans & appearance conformance review.

  • Fire pre-occupancy inspection

*All signs require a separate permit (temporary & permanent).

*Any proposed exterior change requires approval from the Planning Department.


Step 3: Plan Review

Once you submit your permit application, the maps, architectural renderings, construction documents and plans included with your application are reviewed by staff to ensure compliance with development codes and regulations. When the necessary approvals are obtained, you will receive a permit to begin work.


Step 4: Inspections

Construction that requires a permit must be inspected and approved before it is occupied.


Step 5: Occupancy

When construction work is complete and inspected, the inspections department issues Certificates of Occupancy, which must be obtained before a building is occupied. Certificates of Occupancy cannot be issued until all of the required inspections are complete and the project passes its final inspection.

See the Development Process Flowchart for more detail on the entire development process.

Downtown Area Permitting
Assistant Inspections Director
Senior Planner - Development Services
Planning Technician
(919) 435-9518