on Historic Districts

Why Would a Neighborhood want to be a local Historic District?

A Local Historic District is a zoning overlay that provides design regulations on properties in order to guide future architectural design and development to be sensitive to its neighbors, surroundings, and historic context. Through design regulations the historic integrity of the area’s streetscapes (public view) are retained and guidance is given for appropriate and sensitive alterations/new construction. Since the regulations are proposed by those nominating the district for Historic District designation–property owners in the district–historic district designation also provides one of the only ways for neighbors themselves to have a decisive say in the future of their own neighborhood and protects the investments of property owners.


What would becoming a local Historic District
mean for Property Owners?

  1. Exterior alterations visible from the public right-of way (front and side for most people, corner lots have much more visibility) must be reviewed by the City’s Historic Preservation Staff or the Urban Design Commission prior to getting a regular building permit. This includes additions, alterations (such as the addition of dormers or rearrangement of doors/windows, screening of a front porch, etc), demolition, new construction and site work.
  2. The scope of the work will determine whether staff or commission review is needed to receive a Certificate of Approval (COA). Regulations established by the neighborhood will determine specifics.
  3. Demolitions and insensitive alterations are discouraged while alterations in keeping with the district’s and structure’s character are encouraged and advised upon.
  4. Residents will have a voice in the future of their community by participating in the designation process and later in the public meetings held by the Urban Design Commission for all significant projects. (Without Historic District designation, most residents only have a say if a zoning change or variance in requested.)
  5. Properties values within local historic districts tend to appreciate steadily and at rates greater than the local market overall. Findings on this point are consistent across the country. Moreover, recent analysis shows that historic districts are also less vulnerable to market volatility. (NTHP)
  6. The historic character of your neighborhood will be maintained and strengthened through the use of the Historic District’s design regulations.

A few Misconceptions:

  1. Interior work of any kind will not be reviewed by the City’s Historic Preservation Staff or the Urban Design Commission, but it could still need a regular building permit.
  2. Paint color is not regulated by the Historic District.
  3. An architect does not have to draw plans for proposed work, but proposed work does need to be accurately described in graphics, photos, and text for the staff/commission.
  4. Existing work done prior to the start of the Historic District does not have to be reviewed or redone to meet the Historic District regulations.
  5. There are no restrictions on the sale of a property at any point in time. Future owners are notified of the existence of the Historic District by a notice that is filed with Fulton County.


What is a National Register Historic District?

A neighborhood may be listed on the National Register of Historic Places District (such as Candler Park), while this offers some benefits to property owners, such as eligibility to apply for the use of Historic Preservation Tax Credits, listing on the National Register is primarily recognition of historic value and offers no protection on its own. Protection for historic properties through regulations comes at the local (city) level through the designation of local Historic Districts (see above). In Atlanta there are Landmark Districts and Historic Districts.



%d bloggers like this: