What is a locally designated Fort Collins Historic District?
(summarized from City documents)
- In the case of the Loomis Addition, a historic district is a specific group of homes and outbuildings united by architecture and physical development which is officially recognized by the Fort Collins City Council after a public review and comment process.
- The recently completed Loomis Addition Historic Survey Project has provided property owners with surveys describing their homes’ status to be designated as either Individually Eligible as a Fort Collins Landmark, Contributing to a Historic District, or Non-contributing to a Historic District.
- Individually Eligible – Properties that have architectural significance and substantially retain their exterior integrity can not only contribute to a historic district, but can apply for individual designation as a Fort Collins Landmark, if so desired.
- Contributing – Buildings that would contribute to a district are architecturally significant resources with some alterations that have notably altered its appearance while not seriously damaging the historic character of the building. These buildings and structures retain enough exterior integrity to contribute to a group as a district but are not typically eligible for landmark designation on their own. For example, a home with a newly added front porch would not be eligible for designation, but could be contributing to a district if its overall appearance has not been changed.
- Non-contributing – Buildings or structures less than 50 years old, or with little or no historical significance, or that have endured numerous exterior changes, are not eligible for landmark designation. Although they are located within a historic district, they do not contribute to the historic nature of the district.
Why are we proposing a Fort Collins designated Historic District in the Loomis Addition?
- Many residents of the Loomis Addition subdivision (LA), platted in 1887, love the architecture and diversity of the historic homes built largely before 1930.
- 28 of our 309 homes have already been designated by their owners as historic landmarks and many more are eligible for designation or may contribute to a historic district.
- We love our neighborhood and believe that historic homes are finite resources that connect us to our past and add value to our present.
- A Loomis Addition Historic District, or several smaller districts, would permanently preserve existing historic homes and the architectural character of the neighborhood into the future.
- We are concerned that historical homes are being demolished and the neighborhood’s historic character is transitioning to overly large, modern houses that are out of place in Old Town.
- We would also like to enable more homeowners to take advantage of various financial incentives available to homes in a historic district to help pay for repairs, restoration, and improvements to our older homes.
- A historic district not only preserves our historical resources, but it also help maintain property values and local pride for the neighborhood and the city.
What are the benefits of a Local Historic District?
(Compiled from National Trust for Historic Preservation and other sources.)
- FINANCIAL BENEFITS: Fort Collins and the state of Colorado provide substantial financial incentives for restoration and home improvements that contribute to a historic district. The city of Fort Collins offers up to $2,000 in free design assistance and a $7,500 no-interest rehabilitation loan toward 50% of approved project costs on an annual basis. The State offers Historic Tax Credits of up to 25% of approved costs which can carry over up to ten years. (See Financial Incentives for Older Homes in Fort Collins) The Federal government offers an additional 20% in tax credits for commercial properties — such as buildings being rented out as income properties.
- PROTECTION: Districts provide several protections to the investments of owners and residents of historic properties. Insensitive or poorly planned infill development can make an area less attractive to homebuyers and lower property values. District rules ensure that homes will be kept to a certain standard of care and restoration. For example, a neighbor’s beautiful Craftsman home cannot be razed and replaced with a suburban style house that conflicts with the character of existing homes.
- STABILIZED PROPERTy VALUES: Properties within historic districts appreciate at rates greater than the local market overall as well as faster than similar, non-designated neighborhoods. Studies conducted in Fort Collins, Denver, Durango, and across the country consistently document property value increases in historic districts. Recent analysis shows that historic districts are also less vulnerable to market volatility from interest rate fluctuations and economic downturns.
- ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN: Historic districts encourage better quality design. In this case, better design equals a greater sense of cohesiveness, more innovative use of materials, and greater public appeal―all of which are shown to occur more often within designated districts than non-designated ones.
- FUTURE DIRECTION: Historic districts provide neighborhoods with some predictability and give residents a say in what happens.Since major revisions must be approved by the citizen Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC), everyone works hard to stay true to the look and feel of the neighborhood.
- PROMOTE SUSTAINABILITY: Historic districts help sustain the environment. Historic districts encourage the retention and use of existing resources in established neighborhoods. Without the protections of the historic district, houses are more likely to be scraped, contributing to our current landfill problems. And new construction produces additional waste and increased energy use from harvesting, processing, and transportation of new materials. Retention and renovation of existing structures reduces the generation of landfill waste, our carbon footprint, and cuts back on traffic and pollution.
- EFFICIENT CONSTRUCTION: Historic districts are energy-efficient. Many older buildings were designed with energy conservation in mind, taking advantage of natural light, shading by overhanging roofs, and climate-appropriate materials. Fort Collins supports restoration projects that incorporate upgrades to improve energy efficiency.
- EDUCATIONAL VALUE: Historic districts are a vehicle for education. They are a tangible link to the past and a way to bring meaning to history and to people’s lives. They preserve the original character of buildings and streets, while allowing renovation and innovation within those spaces.
- PROMOTE TOURISM: Old Town is one of Fort Collins most popular attractions and visitors come from far and wide for events, to ride the trolley, and to just sightsee along our streets
- SOCIAL QUALITY: Historic districts provide social and psychological benefits. People living in historic districts enjoy the comfort of a human-scale environment; the opportunity to live and work in attractive surroundings; a recognizable and walkable neighborhood; and the galvanizing effect of community-based group action.
- DIRECT DEMOCRACY: Local districts give communities a voice in their future. By participating in the designation process, citizens can help direct their communities’ path. Making these decisions together in a structured way―rather than behind closed doors or without public comment―gives everyone involved a sense of empowerment and confidence.
- PROTECT PROPERTY RIGHTS: Historic districts value the property rights of the many over the property rights of the few. The Supreme Court has determined that the creation of a historic district secures a public benefit and is therefore a legitimate tool for urban land use.
- GOING FORWARD: As the neighborhood continues to change and grow, any work done on the exterior of houses within the historic district would still have to undergo all of the same review that’s currently required by code as well as an additional review by Historic Preservation staff or the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) to ensure that future additions and changes remain in character with the historic district. The LPC is an advisory committee of volunteers appointed by City Council, which means that representatives from our neighborhood can always apply to be on the commission.
How is a Fort Collins Historic District designated?
- Neighborhood property owners supporting a district complete research and preparation of an application for designation.
- Application is submitted to Landmark Preservation Commission.
- Neighborhood meeting convened by Ft. Collins Historic Preservation office to explain process, what designation means, provide information, answer questions, and to solicit comments.
- City contacts all owners of record (by mail) to explain process, protection mechanisms, incentives, and to solicit comments.
- LPC considers request, evaluating whether or not the proposed district has both integrity and significance. If so, it adopts a resolution of eligibility.
- Optional additional neighborhood meeting(s).
- LPC sends notice of hearing to property owners and residents.
- LPC holds a public hearing to make recommendations to City Council.
- City Council holds a public hearing to designate historic district.
What would future growth in the historic district look like? Could I still add an addition?
- Additions and alterations are allowed and review would fall under the Secretary of Interior’s Standard of Rehabilitation defined as “the act or process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alterations, and additions while preserving those portions or features which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values.“
- Only houses that do not contribute to the district or historic houses that have been found to be imminently dangerous could be demolished.
- New construction is allowed, but will not qualify for financial incentives. All new construction would have to conform to the Standards created for the district in order to maintain the overall character of the district. The Standards would likely be modeled after the Old Town Neighborhoods Guidelines that were developed by the City in 2017.
- Financial incentives can be used to modify square footage by rehabilitating existing square footage such as finishing or renovating a basement or attic.
- When the property owner of a home in a local historic district submits their construction plans for work on the exterior of their homes to the City, an additional review will take place to ensure that the work is in keeping with the character of the historic district. This could be as simple as having staff sign off on the plans, could include a meeting with a small design review subcommittee, or could result in a review before the Landmark Preservation Commission depending upon the extent of work proposed. The LPC is a citizen advisory board appointed by City Council with interest or experience in architecture and/or historic preservation.
- The criteria for approval of proposed plans are in Chapter 14 of City Code and reference the Secretary of Interior’s Standards.
- While most alterations and additions are readily approved, the Standards could affect the size and design of proposed work.
- Interior construction is only reviewed if the property owner is asking for financial incentives for the work. If so, the work is reviewed against the Secretary of Interior’s Standards and final approval comes from the State Historic Preservation Office. Applicants are encouraged to talk with the State early and often to ensure eligibility for tax credits.
- If staff is reviewing the plans, it usually only takes a couple of days. The LPC review occurs at their monthly Regular Meetings (the 3rd Wednesday of each month). Subcommittee reviews can take place at any time and are scheduled at a time that works for applicants and subcommittee members.
- It is generally recommended for large projects that the owner meet with the Historic Preservation Staff or request free consultation early on before extensive money is spent on detailed construction plans.
How is a Historic District different than an HOA?
Unlike an HOA, a historic district does not require any annual fees from property members, there is no board, and there are no required meetings.
Where can I go for more information?
For more information please see the web page, http://www.fcgov.com/historicpreservation or contact the Historic Preservation staff:
- Cassandra Bumgarner, firstname.lastname@example.org, (970) 416-4250
- Karen McWilliams, email@example.com, (970) 224-6078.