Landmark Designation - Historic Districts
Historic designation as a City of Dallas Landmark is a type of zoning overlay. The process to designate an historic district is a zoning change request to add the historic designation zoning to the selected area. The designation process typically takes 6+ months. The process and procedures for designation are outlined in Dallas City Code Section 51A-4.501.
Step 1 - Research
Thoroughly read the Zoning Change Application. Pay close attention to the checklist of required application documents on page 3. Further instructions on the required documents are found on pages 4-5 of the application. Click here for the list of Records Building department locations, which will help you located the required documents. Please note that the locations listed for checklist items F, H, and G have changed to the Renaissance Tower Building.
Step 2 - Application
Complete all forms included in the application and attached the required documents. An application fee is required at the time of submission and is based on the size of the property that you are designating. The Fee Schedule is on page 10 of the application.
Historic districts usually have multiple owners within the area proposed for designation, so additional application items are required. 100% of the property owners within the proposed district must sign a petition stating that they understand what historic designation will mean and that they approve of the proposal. Attached is a copy of our petition template. The following materials are required:
Click here to download the zoning change (designation) application
- Completed petition signed by all property owners in the proposed historic district
- Copy of the deed verifying ownership for each property within the proposed district
- Tax certificate verifying taxes are current for each of the properties within the proposed historic district
- Verification of no unpaid liens for each of the properties within the proposed historic district
Step 3 - Initiation
Once you have completed the application and attached all required documents, contact Liz Casso at (214) 671-5052 to schedule an appointment date and time to submit your application and pay the application fee. Liz will ensure that a Zoning Planner will be available to go over your application with you to make sure it is complete. Our offices are located in City Hall in Room 5BN.
When the above steps are complete, the designation process will be officially initiated for the proposed district. Official designation occurs in Step 8 when City Council approves the zoning change. Initiated districts and the properties within it are treated the same as official Landmark historic districts while they are making their way through the designation process, so a Certificate of Appropriateness must be obtained before any exterior repairs or alterations are made to the properties within the proposed district boundaries. Please see our Landmark Review Process page for more details on this process.
Step 4 – Drafts
A draft of the Landmark Nomination Form and Preservation Criteria is created for the proposed district. A Landmark Nomination Form is a document that includes the history of the district and architectural descriptions of the properties found within it. It sometimes includes an inventory of properties. The Preservation Criteria contains the preservation rules that will apply to all properties in the district and will govern how repairs and alterations are made to those properties. Templates for the both the Nomination Form and the Preservation Criteria will be provided by Staff.
Staff highly recommends that property owners consider hiring preservation consultants to draft the Nomination and Criteria documents and to help get the designation application through the process. The Nomination document requires historical research. A preservation consultant familiar with this type of research and the designation process can help speed the process along faster than property owners who may not be familiar with this type of work. Click here for a list of local consultants.
Step 5 – Designation Committee Meeting
The Designation Committee screens all proposed designation requests before the case is sent to the Landmark Commission. This Committee consists of volunteers, and includes former Landmark Commission members, architects, and historians. They will review your application, the Nomination form, and the Preservation Criteria and may suggest further information, edits, etc. The Committee will determine the designation eligibility for the district based on the designation criteria. Click here to view the designation criteria. The district must meet at least three of the ten criteria to be eligible for Landmark designation. The Committee meets once per month. It is typical for Designation applications to go through Designation Committee twice before they are ready to move on to Landmark Commission approval.
Step 6 – Landmark Commission Meeting
Landmark Commission reviews your designation application and votes on their recommendation of your application to City Council. They can either vote to recommend the designation or not recommend the designation. By the time your application is reviewed by Landmark Commission, your Nomination and Preservation Criteria will have been reviewed and edited by Preservation Staff, Designation Committee, and the City Attorney's office. It is rare that Landmark Commission would request changes to your documents at his stage.
Step 7 – City Plan Commission Meeting
The City Plan Commission is required to review your designation application since it is a zoning change request. They will review your designation and vote on their recommendation of your application to City Council. They can either vote to recommend the designation or not recommend the designation.
Step 8 – City Council Meeting
City Council has the ultimate approval power over zoning request changes such as Landmark designations. Council members will review the designation application and, while considering the recommendations from Landmark Commission and City Plan Commission, will vote on the designation. If City Council votes to approve the designation, then the property will be listed as an official City of Dallas Landmark.