The Historic Preservation group within the Planning and Development Department is tasked with the job of saving Houston's historic structures and neighborhoods. They work with homeowners to insure any changes to protected structures meet the preservation ordinance, and they organize the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission meetings.
The Historic Preservation office covers an array of projects each year, with the bulk of their time being dedicated to Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) applications. After an ordinance change in 2015, there are two paths a COA application can take: a review by the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission (HAHC) or an Administrative Approval.
HAHC review is required for significant projects; until the ordinance change last year all projects went to the monthly commission meeting which led to long wait times.
Today, the HAHC reviews items in the following categories: alteration, additions, new construction, demolition, relocation and restoration.
Alternatively, Administrative Approvals cover simple projects such as replacing a non-original door or window with something more appropriate, new garages with a footprint under 600 square feet and alterations to non-contributing structures.
The City of Houston currently has 22 historic districts and over 400 landmarks. COA activity is highest in the Greater Heights Area; Houston Heights East, Houston Heights South, Houston Heights West, Woodland Heights and Norhill accounted for 78% of all HAHC applications.
When Administrative approvals are combined with the HAHC approvals, the overall approval rate is 93%.
If an applicant is denied, they have the option to appeal their case to the Historic Preservation Appeals Board (HPAB), a separate body consisting of former HAHC and Planning commissioners.
Along with HAHC applications, the historic preservation office has processed 87 applications for administrative approval between January and June.
In addition to reviewing Certificate of Appropriateness Applications, staff reviewed and researched four landmarks and eight protected landmarks in the first half of 2016.
A landmark designation offers recognition to a significant building and allows the opportunity to receive tax exemptions for appropriate work while also allowing a 90 day waiver on work to the property.
To learn more about the Landmark and Protected Landmark designations, or our Historic Districts. please visit the department's Historic Preservation page.