Richmond VA > Planning and Development Review > Historic Preservation Division

Last Updated: 2010-05-05

Historic Preservation staff are well versed in all aspects of historic preservation in Richmond and are responsible for enforcing the city's Old and Historic District Ordinance, providing staff support to the Commission of Architectural Review, and overseeing Section 106 review for projects in accordance with the Richmond Programmatic Agreement.

Identification of Historic Resources

Planning and Preservation staff administers an on-going process to identify eligible historic resources in Richmond. This process involves analysis of historic data, field work, mapping in GIS, and consultation with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.

The primary purpose of this effort is to identify historic resources that can be taken into account as a part of the Section 106 process. The identification process also provides data on eligible historic resources that can be considered in the development of neighborhood plans and amendments to the Master Plan.

The identifications process also identifies historic resources that can be proposed for historic designation at the city, state, or national level.

Designation of Historic Properties

In Richmond there are two forms of historic designation. The first and oldest are properties and districts designated as city of Richmond Old and Historic Districts. The second and larger group of designated historic resources consists of individual properties and districts concurrently listed on the State and Federal historic registers. A property or district in Richmond can have both forms of historic designation.

City Old and Historic District Designation

In 1957, the St. John's Church Old and Historic District was created by Richmond City Council in response to citizen appeals to help preserve the historic character of the Church Hill area. As a result the Commission of Architectural Review was established to administer and protect the St. John's Church Old and Historic District. Since that time, 14 additional multiple-property districts and a number of individual-property districts have been added to the Commission's jurisdiction, for a total of approximately 3,300 properties.

Preservation Staff administer all steps in the designation of Old and Historic Districts. This designation process is governed by requirements of the Richmond Zoning Ordinance section 114-930 and procedures adopted by the Commission of Architectural Review. The creation of Old and Historic Districts is a community-driven process that originates with sponsors at the neighborhood level. The creation of an Old and Historic District is a zoning overlay process and requiring affirmative votes by the Commission of Architectural Review, Planning Commission, and City Council to establish a district.

The requirements of Old and Historic Districts and related documents are covered in depth on Commission of Architectural Review.

State and Federal Designation

The Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places are official listings of the districts and individual properties that exemplify the history and culture of Virginia and the United States. Richmond has been a national leader in the designation of historic resources, due in part to the ongoing support of nominations by the city of Richmond in general and Planning and Preservation Division in particular. There are over 130 individual state and federal designations in Richmond and 42 historic districts containing more than 19,000 properties.

The state and federal registers are administered by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and National Park Service. The role of preservation staff in that process in supportive and includes: supplying city property data needed for designation, providing technical assistance on historic research and boundary identification, and commenting on historic resources as a part of the Certified Local Government Program.

Listing on the National Register is largely honorific providing recognition of their unique historical and architectural character. The Richmond National Register Travel Itinerary is one important example of the recognition provided by state and federal designation. Property owners residing within National Register districts are not subject to any historic review requirements. Properties that have been determined to contribute to the historic character of a designated district or an individually-designated property are eligible for state and federal rehabilitation tax credits. The impact on state-designated historic resources by state development activities is taken into account in the state Environmental Review process. The impact of Federally-funded undertakings on federally-designated historic resources are taken into account as a part of the Section 106 process. A map showing the location of State and Federal designations can be viewed here. Information on properties in State and Federal Historic Districts can be viewed in the GIS Parcel Mapper. Once you have selected the parcel you wish to view, click on the Planning Tab for the information about the Historic District.

Preservation Issues in Planning

P and P staff addresses historic preservation issues in area specific plans, such as the Monroe Park Master Plan. P&P staff works to address historic resource and preservation issues in updates to the Downtown Plan and the Master Plan, and assist preservation organizations such as the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond neighborhoods and Historic Richmond Foundation in their planning efforts.

Section 106 Review

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470f) governs the review of Federally-funded activities known as undertakings. Federal regulations 36 CFR Part 800, Protection of Historic Properties, implement Section 106 review and these regulations are summarized in A Citizen’s Guide to Section 106 Review.

The Planning and Preservation Division is responsible for reviewing undertakings within the corporate limits of the City of Richmond that receive Federal funds from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Undertakings reviewed include home repair, rehabilitation, new construction, and demolition that are related to HUD funding passed through the City of Richmond or provided directly to other agencies by HUD. These HUD-related reviews are completed under the terms of the Richmond Programmatic Agreement (PA):

Under the terms of the PA some 200 to 400 undertakings are reviewed annually and for a number of these the P&P staff consult with the Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). As a part of each review a determination is made whether or not an undertaking will affect historic properties, which are individual properties or districts that are eligible for the State and Federal historic registers. If historic properties are affected by an undertaking, P&P staff will work to assure that adverse effects on those historic properties are avoided or mitigated.

Many of these undertakings are a part of the Richmond Neighborhoods in Bloom program and are reviewed with the Department of Economic and Community Development. The Division also provides comments and technical assistance to Federal agencies completing Section 106 review of non-HUD undertakings in Richmond.

Information on undertakings undergoing Section 106 review is listed below:

Questions and input on the Section 106 review process and particular undertakings is welcomed. Staff responsible for Section 106 review can be contacted by e-mailing the Planning and Preservation Division, by visiting the Division in Room 510 of City Hall between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by calling (804) 646-6335.

State Environmental Review and Other Project Review

P and P staff coordinate comments of the city of Richmond on state environmental impact reviews (EIRs) and as a part of that process provide specific comments on historic preservation issues as a part of the EIR process. P&P staff provide comments on special use permits, plans of development, and as a part of the Department of Planning and Development Review's project review team.

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