A number of Midtown residents have expressed the desire to protect Midtown from development pressures from outside the neighborhood. A Local Historic District would protect Midtown’s historic character while allowing for development within a framework that encourages compatibility of design, lot usage, and mass and scale.
Owners can be assured that renovations to adjacent properties will be done in a way that fits in with their property as well as the rest of the neighborhood. Over the long term, this can drive higher property values, since historic neighborhoods are finite resources that are highly desirable to an increasing number of people.
Also, many of the zoning variances that are required under the current system would be streamlined under a historic district. Many projects that would require months of waiting for approvals are approved administratively in the Atlanta Urban Design Commission (AUDC) office for Local Historic Districts. For example, under the current system, if your house is over the side-setback requirement, you have to seek a zoning variance by going through the MNA Land Use Committee, the Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU), and the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA). Under a Local Historic District, you would just submit an application to the AUDC, which meets twice as often as the BZA.
Midtown became a National Historic District in 1999.
National Historic District is a recognition that a specific defined area is historically intact and has significant historic structures and/or other resources that have importance to a community, a state or the nation that are worth preserving. National district designation does not provide legal protection for historic structures.
Local Historic Districts and Landmark Historic Districts are designations under the City of Atlanta Historic Preservation Ordinance that provide a legal framework for protecting historic structures and neighborhoods.
Landmark Districts are generally more historically consistent and intact, while Historic Districts can be somewhat more diverse in terms of periods of development, architectural styles, and how historically intact the buildings are.
The proposed boundaries of the historic district follow Piedmont Road and parts of Juniper Street on the west; 10th Street on the north; Monroe Drive, Monroe Circle and Lakeview Avenue on the east; and Ponce de Leon Avenue on the south. Boundary map.
Individual property protection, also known as an opt-in restrictive covenant, is a legal contract entered into by a group of owners, usually in suburban subdivisions, to enforce rules of consistency on a neighborhood. Restrictive covenants are usually much more strict and overarching than historic districts and are often enforced by lawsuits between neighbors. A Local Historic District on the other hand is an overlay to city zoning codes that becomes part of the building permit approval process. Historic districts are concerned with maintaining historic identity of structures and as such do not regulate things such as paint colors, lawn decorations, etc.
Depending on the level of the repair or renovation, the process can be as simple as getting staff sign off from the AUDC. For more involved renovations, the AUDC board meets twice a month to review construction plans. As mentioned above, permitting for work that would otherwise require a zoning variance, which is common in Midtown because of existing non-conforming uses, is streamlined under Local Historic Districts.
Our Local Historic District codes will not include changes to interiors, landscaping or paint colors. Our district will allow a wide range of options for doors, windows, shingles and exterior siding in a wide range of appropriate materials, which often coincide with what owners are looking to use anyway.
Dozens of academic studies have demonstrated that historic districts increase property values relative to comparable neighborhoods that are unprotected. A local historic district provides assurance to prospective buyers that their investment will be protected. More on Property values in historic districts.
The Midtown Historic Preservation Committee makes an initial recommendation for each property based on whether the date of construction falls within the "period of significance" and whether it is historically intact. The AUDC then makes a final assessment based on a site visit to each property. Contributing properties are those built before December 31st, 1951 that have maintained their essential form (you can tell what the house looked like when it was first built) and for which any major alterations are reversible.
The Period of Significance for the Midtown Local Historic District extends through December 31st, 1951. This end date for the period of significance coincides with the city's annexation of Buckhead and large areas of southwest and southeast Atlanta. The referendum on the city's "Plan of Improvement" was in 1951 and took effect on January 1st of the next year, with the changes emerging that spring. The Constitution said it created "a new and greater Atlanta" and was "one of the truly great moments comparable almost to the city's rise from the smoldering ashes Sherman left behind him." Expressway (freeway) construction began in 1949 and modern shopping centers (e.g. Rock Springs and Piedmont) began to be constructed around the same time. All these events radically changed the nature of Midtown and the city as a whole. A historian would want to say "circa 1950," but using the annexation date gives us a precise date.
In keeping with the diversity of housing types and styles within Midtown, the intent of the MNA Historic Preservation Committee is to craft proposed zoning code to be flexible and moderate. Our goal is to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood, while still allowing the eclectic diversity that has come to define Midtown.
Yes. Almost all of the Atlanta Historic Districts have amended their regulations after they were implemented. The process is the same as that for changes to any other zoning. The legislative changes are generally sponsored by the relevant Atlanta City Council member and are approved by the City of Atlanta Zoning Review Board (ZRB).