Why Designate Historic Properties?
Not only do historic resources provide a link to our past, they give us a feeling of continuity and a sense of history and place. Historic properties also benefit our local economy by attracting visitors to Arlington, as well as those residents desiring attractive and high quality housing and commercial spaces. Concern for these historic resources with their unique opportunities and challenges is the responsibility of the County's Historic Preservation Program and the HALRB.
Both local landmark and National Register status is simply an acknowledgement of a property's importance within its community. Historic resources can consist of a single building, such as a house, church, school, or store; a group of buildings, such as an apartment complex, neighborhood, or commercial center; a site, such as a cemetery or archaeological site; or a natural feature, such as a rock formation or park. Currently, Arlington has 29 locally-designated historic districts or landmarks and 54 sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
What are the benefits of historic designation?
Besides public recognition, the granting of historic status provides several benefits to the property owner. In some cases, owners may be eligible for federal and state tax credits to encourage the appropriate rehabilitation of their historic buildings. Designation has also proven to be a stabilizing factor for communities since owners of historic buildings generally take greater pride in their neighborhoods and work to maintain their properties. In fact, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, recent studies suggest that historic districts nationwide may have a higher resale value than comparable properties and neighborhoods not within a designated district.
And in the case of Arlington historic districts specifically, the historical integrity of historic resources is also protected by a design review process. Such a process helps guide and manage proposed exterior changes within the district and offers protection from inappropriate alterations to existing structures and incompatible new construction.
How does a property or neighborhood become an Arlington historic district?
Residents or property owners first ask the HALRB to study the resource(s). If the HALRB considers the property to be historic, then the HALRB invites all of the owners within the proposed district to a public hearing. If the HALRB recommends designation, rezoning procedures are initiated. The Planning Commission holds a public hearing where the HALRB presents its recommendation and property owners can testify. The results of the Planning Commission meeting are then forwarded to the County Board. If the County Board agrees the resource has historic merit, the owners are asked to submit written comment on the proposed historic district. The County Board then considers all factors and decides if a designation is warranted.
If there is no public support for the proposed designation, then the process does not proceed. However, if the public favors designation, then the process continues and the HALRB arranges for the necessary nomination forms to be completed and submitted to the proper authorities - the Arlington County Board for local designation and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources in Richmond for National Register listing.
Department of Community Planning,
Housing & Development
Neighborhood Services Division
2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 700
Arlington, VA 22201
Please contact Rebecca Ballo with the Neighborhood Services Division with any questions or comments regarding the historic preservation pages on this website.