Frequently Asked Questions about Historic Landmarks and Districts
What’s the difference between an old building and an historic landmark?
What’s the difference between an historic neighborhood and an historic district?
When is a property considered “historic” and, therefore, eligible for designation?
Why would a property be included in an historic district if it is not historic?
What are some of the benefits of owning property in an historic district?
Can a property owner make changes to a property once it is part of an historic district?
Will a property owner be required to restore his or her property?
Can a property owner opt out of being included in an historic district?
Q. What’s the difference between an old building and an historic landmark?
A. An individual property can become an historic landmark if the City changes the zoning for that property by adding an Historic Overlay. Landmarks can be buildings, sites (such as a cemetery or battlefield), or objects like theRound Rock in Brushy Creek. The City of Round Rock currently contains 71 historic landmarks. The East End neighborhood alone contains 19 properties that have already been individually designated as historic landmarks. (return to top)
Q. What’s the difference between an historic neighborhood and an historic district?
A. As above, a neighborhood can become an historic district, if the City adds Historic Overlay Zoning. The only designated historic district in the City of Round Rock at this time is the Downtown Commercial Historic District. Round Rock has no residential historic districts, although some neighborhoods contain historic buildings. (return to top)
Q. When is a property considered “historic” and, therefore, eligible for designation?
A. In order to be designated as “historic,” the City of Round Rock requires properties to meet the following criteria:
- Historic designation by the National Register of Historic Places or Texas Historical Commission;
- The property’s role in the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the City, State or other society;
- Occurrence of a notable event on the property;
- Identification of the property with a person(s) who contributed notably to the culture and development of the City, State or other society;
- Distinctive elements of architectural design, material or craftsmanship, or the distinctiveness of a craftsman, master builder or architect, or a style or innovation;
- Archaeological value that the property can be expected to yield; or
- Other unique historical value. (return to top)
Q. Why would a property be included in an historic district if it is not historic?
A. An historic district is an area that includes a collection of historic resources. Nearly all historic districts include both properties that are historically or architecturally significant, based on the definition above, and properties that are not considered “historic”. The character of an historic district is affected by all of the properties within that area, so even the non-historic buildings are included in the designation. (return to top)
Q. What are some of the benefits of owning property in an historic district?
A. Historic district designation often improves property values, because it requires everyone to maintain the historic character of the neighborhood. Historic property values are typically higher and more stable than identical properties not in historic districts. (See http://www.ncshpo.org/current/impact.htm for studies on theeconomic impacts of historic preservation, conducted in Texas and other states.)
Property owners may be eligible for various incentives or benefits to help cover costs for renovation and preservation. The City of Round Rock offers partial tax exemptions for historic properties that meet basic maintenance, structural, and health/safety standards.
Historic design standards and guidelines are put into place to preserve the architectural integrity and character of structures. This benefits the neighborhood as a whole. (return to top)
Q. Can a property owner make changes to a property once it is part of an historic district?
A. Yes! One of the purposes of the historic tax exemption is to encourage the appropriate renovation and maintenance of historic properties. However, any changes to the exterior (especially additions) must be approved by the City to determine its appropriateness before obtaining any building permits. It is not necessary to have HPC approval for any interior alterations, or for normal repairs that do not affect the exterior appearance of the house (such as repainting the same color or re-roofing with the same material).
Some projects can be approved by City staff, such as paint colors, landscaping, rear fences, and other minor projects. (A list of the projects eligible for staff review can be found on the City’s Historic Preservation website.) All other exterior changes must be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). Guidelines are provided in Design Guidelines for Historic Commercial and Residential Properties and Districts. (return to top)
Q. Will a property owner be required to restore his or her property?
A. No. Historic district designation does not require property owners to restore any building to the way it looked in the past. (return to top)
Q. Can a property owner opt out of being included in an historic district?
A. While individual property owners may not opt out of being included in an historic district, the City of Round Rock considers publicinput when making decisions about zoning changes. Property owners are encouraged to ask questions, share feedback with Joelle Jordan in the Department of Planning and Development Services, and attend meetings of the Historic Preservation Commission, Planning and Zoning Commission, and City Council when these items are being considered and discussed. (return to top)