What is a Historic District & How does an area become one?

DEFINITION
A historic district is a geographically definable area designated by the City Commission as possessing a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of properties united historically or aesthetically by plan or physical development. A district may have within its boundaries non-contributing buildings or structures that while not of historic or architectural significance, still contribute to the over-all visual character of the district.

PURPOSE
To preserve and protect historical and architectural resources which serve as visible reminders of the City’s culture and heritage.
To protect and enhance the scale, character and stability of existing neighborhoods.
To avoid adverse effects on historic properties and historic districts.
To protect against the destruction of or encroachment upon areas which contribute to the character of the City.

BENEFITS
• Predictability for the neighborhood through design review.
• Historic properties are eligible for the Ad Valorem Tax Exemption Program.
• Generally, historic districts show an increase in property values.

ADMINISTRATION
Following historic designation ALL exterior alterations, additions, new construction, and demolition are reviewed by the Historic Preservation Division or the Historic Preservation Board. The entire exterior of contributing and non-contributing structures are reviewed, not just the main facades.

NOMINATION PROCESS

  1. Nominations may be initiated by the HPB, City Commission, 51% of the owners, or the Preservation Planner
  2. Submit a Designation Application
  3. Notice is mailed to surrounding properties within 400 feet and advertised in the local newspaper
  4. Presented to the Historic Preservation Board for a recommendation
  5. Presented to the City Commission for final approval
  6. Listed in the West Palm Beach Register of Historic Places

CRITERIA FOR DESIGNATION

  • The area must possess historic contexts or themes which describe the historical relationship of the properties. These contexts/themes may address cultural, socio-economical, political, archeological, and/or architectural aspects of the City’s development. A time period of significance of the district is established.
  • The area must be significant in one or more of the following areas of significance:
  • A. Event
    B. Significant Person
    C. Design/Construction
    D. Information Potential
    E. Location/Characteristics

  • The majority of the properties must be at least 50 years old.