Denver considers changing historic landmark process

A recent article in the Denver Business Journal stated that Denver's Landmark Preservation Commission is considering changes to the city's ordinance that governs historic designations for properties on the verge of being demolished. As a historic designation has shown in a number of studies to increase property value, this subject has the potential to change the landscape of real estate in Denver.

There have been two recent situations in Denver in which non-owners have petitioned the city for historic preservation of city properties, the Business Journal reported. Another recent article in the publication provided more background information about these two instances, explaining that the appeals were filed just before the buildings were scheduled to be demolished. This was “concerning” to some in the Denver business world, according to the Business Journal, as they thought it might mark a trend.

The commission members are considering a higher application fee for filing a preservation appeal and a mandate that requires applicants to live in the city of Denver. With a public hearing scheduled for mid-September to discuss the proposed changes, residents and local business owners alike are engaged in a discussion about the city's progress and potential effects on local businesses and the values of homes for sale in Denver.

The commission chairman, Dennis Humphries, told the source, "It's great that there's awareness and discussion of preservation issues going on."

A number of sources and studies have found that historic designations in a neighborhood can have a significant effect on home values. According to a study from the University of Louisville, "Neighborhoods containing historic districts exhibit higher increases in median neighborhood housing values than undesignated neighborhoods."

The Business Journal reported that commissioners largely support raising the application fee up to $1,000, from $250 currently. The principal planner for landmark preservation for the City of Denver, Barbara Stocklin-Steely, said that this hike in the application fee could be considered reasonable to "reflect the additional staff time required to process these projects and to help raise the bar for these designations."

Another proposed change encourages early communication between the applicant and the owner of the building in question, if the applicant is not the owner. By encouraging such a relationship, it is hopeful that future applications and issues that seem to pit building owners against residents can be avoided.