DENVER — Homeowners, architects and contractors working to update a historic property in Denver can look forward to a smoother design review process thanks to the adoption on Tuesday of updated design guidelines by the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC). With clearer guidance, illustrations and examples, the new guidelines can help homeowners and professionals move through the design review process more quickly and easily, ultimately saving time and money.
The new guidelines, which go into effect October 1, offer a “how-to” approach for property owners and design professionals with easy-to-follow charts and graphs as well as new and better guidance and information on modern energy-efficiency improvements, additions, new construction, and signs, among other topics.
Denver currently has 331 designated historic landmarks and more than 6,000 buildings located in designated historic districts — most of them single-family homes. The LPC and city staff use the design guidelines to evaluate building projects that affect the exterior of these properties, as is required by the city’s landmark ordinance, to ensure that proposed projects preserve the significance of the city’s historic and architectural treasures. The new guidelines are the result of an extensive public process that included input from more than 200 historic property owners, design professionals, neighborhood groups and other stakeholders.
Key updates and improvements:
- Character-defining features for each of the city’s historic districts help identify what makes each neighborhood historically unique. (This update covers eight neighborhoods, others will be added.)
- Expanded illustrations and examples of best approaches and inappropriate approaches to specific projects such as additions to existing buildings and new construction on vacant lots in historic districts.
- Environmental sustainability and modern energy efficiency improvements, previously not addressed in the guidelines.
- Guidance for historic commercial, civic and institutional buildings, previously not addressed in the guidelines.
- Signage on historic landmarks and properties, previously not addressed in the design guidelines.
Although the guidelines have been amended and updated over the years, this is the first major update since they were first written in 1995. The project was funded through a National Park Service grant provided by History Colorado. The previous guidelines will remain in use for project submissions received before October 1, and eventually phased out as those projects are completed.
For more on landmark preservation in Denver including the design review process, and a copy of the new guidelines, visit DenverGov.org/landmark.
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