Staff are well versed in all aspects of historic preservation in Richmond and are responsible for administering 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 City of Richmond Programmatic Agreement.
Planning 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 must 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 the Master Plan, neighborhood plans and zoning amendments.
The identification process also identifies historic resources that can be proposed for historic designation at the city, state, or federal level.
In Richmond, there are two forms of historic designation. The first and oldest form of designation is individual properties and districts identified 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 Virginia Landmarks Register (state) and the National Register of Historic Places (federal). A property or district in Richmond can have all forms of historic 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 character of the neighborhood surrounding historic St. John’s Church on Church Hill. 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, 15 additional multiple-property districts and a number of individual-property districts have been added to the Commission's jurisdiction, for a total of approximately 4,006 properties.
Planning and Preservation staff administer all steps in the designation of Old and Historic Districts. This designation process is governed by the requirements of the Richmond Zoning Ordinance Section 30-930 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 requires 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 the webpage for the Commission of Architectural Review.
The Virginia Landmarks Register (VLR) and the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) are official state and federal listings of 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. In Richmond, there are over 154 individual properties and 122 historic districts, containing nearly 28,000 properties, listed on the VLR and NRHP.
The state and federal registers are administered by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the National Park Service. The role of Planning and Preservation staff in that process is supportive and includes: supplying city property data, 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 NRHP and VLR is largely honorific, providing recognition of a property’s unique historical and architectural character. Property owners residing within NRHP and VLR districts or individually listed properties are not subject to any historic review requirements. Properties that have been determined to contribute to a designated district or are individually-designated are eligible for state and federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits. The impact of state-funded development activities on state-designated historic resources is taken into account in the Virginia Environmental Review process. The impact of Federally-funded undertakings on historic resources is taken into account as a part of the Section 106 Review process. A map showing the location of VLR and NRHP designated resources can be viewed in ArcGIS. Information on specific properties in VLR and NRHP 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 information about the historic districts.
Planning staff addresses historic preservation issues in area specific plans, such as the Monroe Park Master Plan. Planning staff works to address historic resource and preservation issues in updates to existing planning documents, and assist preservation organizations such as Historic Richmond, Preservation Virginia, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources in their planning efforts.
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. These HUD-related reviews are completed under the terms of the Richmond Programmatic Agreement (PA):
Under the terms of the Programmatic Agreement some 200 to 400 undertakings are reviewed annually and for a number of these the Planning and Preservation staff consults with the Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), also known as the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. As a part of each review, a determination is made whether or not an undertaking will affect historic properties, which are listed individually or as districts that are eligible for the Virginia Landmark’s Register (VLR) or the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). If historic properties are affected by an undertaking, Planning and Preservation staff will work to ensure that adverse effects to these 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 City Department of Housing and Community Development. The Division also provides comments and technical assistance for non-HUD funded undertakings in Richmond.
Information on recent Section 106 reviews are listed below:
The City compiles a list of all complete and active Section 106 projects on a monthly basis. Please click on the links below for additional information.
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Questions and input on the Section 106 review process and particular undertakings are welcomed. Staff responsible for Section 106 review can be contacted by e-mailing Planning staff, PDRPlanningAndPreservation@richmondgov.com, by visiting in Room 510 of City Hall between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by calling 804-646-6335.
Planning staff coordinates the comments of various departments of the City of Richmond on state Environmental Impact Reviews (EIRs) and provides specific comments on historic preservation issues. Planning staff provide comments on Special Use Permits, Plans of Development, and is a part of the PDR project review team.
Planning staff in coordination with the City Assessor’s Office reviews all applications for Partial Tax Exemption for properties contributing to a district or individually listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register. Click here to learn more.