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The historic designation process is initiated when any Detroit resident submits a request to Detroit City Council for consideration of a potential historic district.  At its discretion, City Council may then direct the Historic Designation Advisory Board staff to conduct a study of the proposed district, in accordance with Chapter 25 of the 1984 Detroit City Code and the Michigan Local Historic Districts Act.

Requests for local designation are generally taken in the order they are received.  Once HDAB is prepared to study a proposed historic district, a resolution is passed from City Council to begin the process.  The study itself usually takes between four to six months due to ordinance requirements, and then a Final Report with a recommendation and ordinance are sent to City Council for final action.

If you are proposing a historic district on behalf of your neighborhood, subdivision, block, or street, we ask that you please provide a community forum for a presentation by HDAB staff.

You are encouraged to discuss your request with the staff of the Historic Designation Advisory Board before you submit it to the Detroit City Council.  You may speak with a staff member by calling (313) 224-3487.

The historic designation study process is described below:

  1. A request is sent to City Council to consider a proposed designation.  The request must be in the form of a letter addressed to:

             Detroit City Council
             c/o Detroit City Clerk
             200 Coleman A. Young Municipal Center
             Detroit, MI 48226

        Please also send a copy of the request to:

             Historic Designation Advisory Board
             204 Coleman A. Young Municipal Center
             Detroit, MI 48226

  2. The request should state the reason the designation is being sought and describe the significance of the proposed district with respect to at least one of the Evaluation Criteria for Proposed Districts.  It should also precisely describe the location of the proposed district by providing specific street addresses or by describing the proposed district’s boundaries.

  3. The City Clerk will assign a petition number to the request, and forward it to City Council.  The petitioner will receive a postcard from the City Clerk, including the petition number, to confirm receipt of the request.  A waiting period may then occur, as requests for designation are generally addressed by City Council in the order in which they are received.

  4. City Council, at its discretion, may adopt a resolution directing the Historic Designation Advisory Board to study the proposed district, as well as appoint two ad hoc members to the Board.  

  5. The Historic Designation Advisory Board staff prepares a Preliminary Report, describing the historic and architectural value of the proposed district, and presents it to the Historic Designation Advisory Board, at its regular meeting, for review.

  6. The Historic Designation Advisory Board schedules a public hearing on the proposed district, which provides an opportunity for all interested parties to express their views.  This public hearing will occur at a subsequent Historic Designation Advisory Board meeting, after a legally-mandated 60 day waiting period to allow time for public notice and comment.  Interested parties are encouraged to attend if possible, or may express their opinions in writing to the Historic Designation Advisory Board prior to the public hearing.

  7. The Historic Designation Advisory Board prepares a Final Report, describing the historic and architectural value of the proposed district, and presents it to City Council.  The Final Report will contain a recommendation for or against designation, and, if the recommendation is for designation, it will also contain a draft ordinance for City Council consideration.

  8. City Council may then, at its discretion, introduce the ordinance of designation.  City Council would then follow the ordinary course for the passage of an ordinance, including a public hearing before the Council.