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Benefits to Living in a Locally Designated Historic District
How Do I Get My Project Approved?
When Do I Need to Apply?
List of Work Items that the Detroit Historic District Commission Staff Can Approve

Benefits to Living in a Locally Designated Historic District
  • Preserve Detroit's neighborhoods, housing stock, and history for future generations of Detroiters.
  • Qualify to apply for a 25% state income tax credit on interior and exterior rehabilitation costs.
  • Regulation of exterior changes in neighborhoods including window replacement, ensuring new construction and additions are compatible, and that the historic character of houses and grounds is maintained.
  • Prevention of property neglect and demolition by the use of the demolition by neglect portion of the ordinance that requires owners to repair their properties before they reach such a state of disrepair that they have to be demolished.


How Do I Get My Project Approved
  1. Obtain an "Application for Building Permit" from the Detroit Buildings and Safety Engineering Department located on the 4th floor of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center (former City County Building).
  2. Mail or bring the application to the Commission offices on the 13th floor of Cadillac Tower for approval.
  3. Return to the Building and Safety Engineering Department to pay the building permit fee and receive the permit.


When do I need to apply

This list is not all inclusive. If you do not see your project on this list, CALL THE COMMISSION!!

Call the Commission before: Go ahead with your project when:
Changing paint colors Painting in the same colors
Removing large trees, shrubbery, plantings Trimming or pruning trees, shrubs, plantings
Installing new or replacement fencing Repairing a few sections of fence with like materials and sizes
Installing new or replacement windows Replacing panes of glass with matching glass
Reconstructing areas of masonry walls, chimneys, floors, porches, etc. Tuckpointing small areas of mortar with matching mortar
Installing new storm and security doors, installing new storm windows Installing or removing storms and screens for the season
Reconstructing all or part of a porch Replacing small deteriorated areas with identical materials and sizes
Installing new doors, garage doors, security doors Repairing existing doors with identical materials
Installing or replacing signage, including awnings Putting out or removing cloth awnings on existing frames for the season
Cleaning the building
Demolishing all or part of a building, including garages
Constructing a new building or addition


List of Work Items That the Staff of the Detroit Historic District Commission Can Approve

Please note that all other types of work must go before the Commission at their monthly meeting.

  1. Gutter and downspout replacement, provided that (a) quality materials like copper are not being removed and replaced, and (b) the design of gutters and downspouts closely resembles the original, and the routing of the downspouts is either the original or not so placed as to be intrusive in the design of the building, and (c) the colors meet the terms and conditions of the Detroit Historic Districts Style & Color Guide;
  2. Masonry cleaning, provided that the application meets the terms and conditions of the Commission's Policy on Exterior Masonry Cleaning Techniques, adopted by the Commission in 1979;
  3. Re-roofing of an asphalt shingle roof with new asphalt shingles, provided that the shingles are of a color and texture resembling historic roofing materials used in the district and/or on the building in question, where that information is known;
  4. Window and/or door replacement, provided that the design and material(s) conforms with the original, and the color conforms to the Detroit Historic Districts Style & Color Guide; where the existing door or window is not original to the structure, the replacement should be compatible with the architectural design of the structure;
  5. Storm window and/or door installation provided that (a) mullions, muntins, and meeting rails of storm windows conform with those of the prime window, and the design of the storm door reflects the design of the prime door, and (b) if aluminum or vinyl storm windows and doors are used, the color is appropriate under the Detroit Historic Districts Style & Color Guide;
  6. Window or door boarding, provided that (a) the boarding up of window(s) and/or door(s) is temporary and for the protection of the building, and (b) the boarding is painted a dark color such as black or brown;
  7. Replacement of the fabric of existing canvas awnings, provided that the new canvas is not plastic or vinyl coated or does not appear to be so; and where the color is appropriate to the trim colors on the building;
  8. Antenna installation, provided that the design meets the guidelines in Historic District Commission Antenna Policy adopted by the Commission in March, 1985;
  9. Replacement of an existing fence provided the type, materials, and height match the existing fence, or falls within the guidelines of the in the Historic District Commission Policy on Chain Link (Cyclone) Fencing adopted February, 1981;
  10. Replacement of an asphalt shingle roof with a wood shingle roof provided the owner or contractor can substantiate that wood shingles originally existed on the roof;
  11. Installation of gas or electric lamps in the tree lawn of the Indian Village Historic District, provided the lamps match the standard lamp in the district;
  12. Reconstruction of existing porches, provided the materials and design match the existing materials and design, and that the colors meet the Detroit Historic Districts Style and Color Guide;
  13. Change of paint color(s), provided the new color(s) meets the Detroit Historic Districts Style and Color Guide;
  14. Erection of a temporary, chain link construction fence for a period that does not exceed nine (9) months;
  15. The installation of glass blocks to replace basement windows with the following conditions: 1) the windows are recessed to the location of the existing basement windows; 2)screening or grates are provided to cover the glass block; 3) the windows are no larger than 36" wide by 24" high; and 4) the windows are located on the sides and rear of the property.
  16. The removal of dead, diseased or damaged trees with a written statement from a professional service or arborist.
  17. A change in fencing material, type or height, that does not change the location of the fence, and meets the Fence and Hedge Guideline.
  18. A change in walkway or driveway material that matches the same width and length, and meets the districts' elements of design.
From Detroit Historic District Commission Resolutions:
97-01(adopted 8/13/97), 97-02 (adopted 10/8/97),98-01 (adopted 2/11/98), and 01-01 (adopted 8/8/01)


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