What is the Browne’s Addition Local Historic District?

This is a collaborative project between the City of Spokane Historic Preservation Office, Browne’s Addition Neighborhood Council, and Borth Preservation Consultant LLC, to list the Browne’s Addition neighborhood in the Spokane Register of Historic Places.

What is the Spokane Register of Historic Places?

The Spokane Register of Historic Places is the City’s official list of properties that have been designated as significant contributors to the historical development of Spokane.  The Register was established by ordinance in both the City and County of Spokane in 1981 and 1982, respectively.  These ordinances deem the City/County Historic Landmarks Commission responsible for the stewardship of historic and architecturally significant properties. Nominations to the Spokane Register must be accompanied by owner consent.

I thought Browne’s Addition was already a historic district?

It is! Browne’s Addition is currently listed in the National Register of Historic as an historic district for its significant historical associations and architectural significance (it was listed all the way back in 1976). The National Register is a nation-wide version of the Spokane Register, but does not offer the district as much protection as the Spokane Register will. Listing in the Spokane Register also makes buildings that are considered historic in the district eligible for Special Tax Valuation, a property tax reduction program.

What is Special Valuation?

Special Tax Valuation is an incentive program to reward folks who invest in their historic properties. In a nutshell, the Assessor’s office reduces the assessed value of an historic property by the amount spent on a rehabilitation for ten years.  Properties must be listed on the Spokane Register of Historic Places (or “contributing” in an historic district) prior to application to qualify.  The Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission will review the work that was done on the property. In order to qualify, rehabilitation costs must total 25% or more of the assessed valued of the structure (not the land) prior to rehabilitation.

What is an historic district?

An historic district is a group of any number of inter-related historic resources (these can include buildings, structures, sites, and objects) that share an association(s) with significant historical events and/or patterns of history on a local, regional, and/or national level. For Browne’s Addition, these associations are with the development of the City of Spokane in the late-1800s through the early- and mid-1900s; significant events include the early development of the City, as well as associations with housing war veterans from both World Wars. Browne’s Addition also has many buildings that are significant for their architecture.

So, will everything in the historic district be significant?

Not necessarily. The historic district will have defined boundaries and what we call a “period(s) of significance.” What is a period of significance? It refers to the span of time during which significant events and activities occurred. Events and associations with historic properties are finite; most properties have a clearly definable period of significance. Once defined, this information will be posted to the Browne’s Historic District information webpage. These definitions will inform which buildings will contribute to the historic district, and which do not.

What does “contributing” and “non-contributing” mean?

A contributing building in the Browne’s Addition Historic District will have to meet all of the following criteria:

  1. Located within the defined boundary
  2. Constructed during the period of significance
  3. Have at least some of its historic architectural elements

A building in the historic district would not contribute if it does not meet all of the above criteria. For example, a building could be within the boundary and constructed within the period of significance, but it has been altered so much that it does not look like it was constructed during the period of significance. Another example would be if is within the boundary and has not been altered, but was constructed after the period of significance.

How will the historic district be listed in the Spokane Register?

In order for any historic district to be listed in the Spokane Register, the district needs a majority (50%+1) of “yes” votes from property owners of tax parcels within the boundary of the historic district. If achieved, the nomination will then be brought in front of the Spokane City Council for a vote, along with design guidelines that are specific to the neighborhood. It will then be up to the City Council to create an overlay zone which will list the historic district and enact the design guidelines.

What are design guidelines?

The 1984 “Browne’s Addition Design Plan,” which mapped out a strategy for neighborhood identity, was rescinded in May of 2001 when the City’s Comprehensive Plan was passed and neighborhoods were required to plan under the Growth Management Act. Since that time, Browne’s has had no design review of new construction within the neighborhood boundaries. This document will provide guidance for the development of design standards during the current project.

Design Standards and Guidelines for the Browne’s Addition Historic District will be written and prepared in tandem with the historic district nomination to assist Browne’s Addition property owners, City staff and Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission (SHLC) members regarding appropriate design for the rehabilitation of existing buildings and new construction in the Historic District. The design standards will consider the existing character of the neighborhood and anticipate future changes. The goal of the design standards is to provide clear direction and guidance for bridging the existing character and future/envisioned changes. The standards will be designed to encourage high-quality urban spaces defined by a variety of building types, streetscapes, signage, public spaces, building elements, and other important architectural characteristics of this diverse neighborhood.

How is the 50%+1 majority determined: by total property owners regardless of response, or, as is done with electoral votes, by the total of votes received?

The 50%+1 will be of the total of property owners within the proposed boundary of the historic district. Any lack of response from a property owner will be considered a “no.” Each tax parcel will get one vote. If someone owns several tax lots, they get that many votes. For example, if you own 3 tax parcels within the proposed boundary of the historic district, you will get three votes. If you do not respond, it will be considered 3 “no” votes.

Are there volunteer opportunities?

Absolutely! The Browne’s Addition Neighborhood Council (BANC) can always use your help spreading the word about the project and informing property owners about the voting process. Any lack of response by the end of the voting period will be considered a “no,” so we need to make sure we get as many “yes” responses as possible.  If you are interested in helping, please contact the Browne’s Addition Neighborhood Council at rbiggerstaff101@gmail.com.