What is Design Review?
Simply put, Design Review is the process that helps insure any alterations to a building do not adversely affect that building’s historic character and appearance. There are many benefits to conducting design review which include the preservation of the unique and historic qualities of our shared environment, the promotion of unique business environments and the protection of neighborhood identity.
Owners of properties listed on the Spokane Register of Historic Places agree to follow Management Standards and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation outlined in their “Management Agreement.” This agreement states than an owner must obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA), or approval, for any action affecting use, exterior appearance, new construction or demolition of the designated historic structure.
It’s important to note that normal maintenance or repair does not require design review if no changes are made to the exterior appearance of the building.
What is a Certificate of Appropriateness?
A COA is an official notice of approval issued by the Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission or the Historic Preservation Officer, charged with the jurisdiction for permitting or denying the appropriateness of proposed changes or additions to historic structures.
Does every historic property owner go through Design Review?
No. Only owners with buildings listed on the Spokane Register of Historic Places or contributing in locally designated historic districts need work to be reviewed. Local districts include Booge’s Addition, Comstock-Shadle, Corbin Park and Hillyard Historic Business. For a complete list of buildings and districts on the local and national registers, please click here.
Who conducts the review?
The Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission or the Historic Preservation Officer approves or denies proposed changes. The SHLC is a body of private citizens charged with the preservation and protection of Spokane’s historic, architectural and archaeological resources. Each commission member represents a specific geographic area, or has a specific area of expertise, such as architecture or history, and serves on the Commission for three years.
Commissioners will attend a site visit to make better informed decisions and then vote on the proposed alterations at a monthly Landmarks meeting.
However, some work does not merit commissioner approval and can be done administratively by the Historic Preservation Officer. Additionally, some work requires no official approval whatsoever. For more information on the levels of approval, see the chart below.
Click here for the COA application form!
What types of work are reviewed?
There are several types of work that get reviewed. This includes change-of-use, demolitions and exterior alterations. However, different work requires different levels of approval. While the chart below is by no means exhaustive, it should act as a handy reference for what type approval is needed for various alterations. If you don’t see your work listed, just contact our office!
What are the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation?
The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards are common sense historic preservation principles in non-technical language. They promote historic preservation best practices that will help to protect our nation’s irreplaceable cultural resources.
The Standards for Rehabilitation are used during the process of returning a property to a state of utility, through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions and features of the property which are significant to its historic, architectural and cultural values.
Design Review is one method of protecting our important historic resources and ensuring the character of important places is preserved. Some benefits include the:
- preservation of the unique and historic qualities of our shared environment
- creation of unique and attractive business environments
- protection of neighborhood identity
- potential eligibility for local and federal tax incentives
For more information on the benefits of design review, please click here.
The St. Paul Market before and after rehabilitation.