What is the Historic Resources Inventory (HRI)?

  • With the County Board adoption of the Historic Preservation Master Plan in December 2006, one of the priority recommendations to be implemented is the creation of an HRI to: 1) rank the County’s historic resources by historical and architectural significance; and 2) to establish proactive strategies to preserve the most vital historic resources.
  • This 1st phase of the HRI is limited to only three building types: 1) Garden apartment buildings and complexes (low-, mid-, and high-rises); 2) Shopping centers; and 3) Individual commercial buildings.
  • 398 historic resources were assessed, with the survey completed in October 2009.
  • The HRI consists of six ranking categories (with the number of resources per category indicated in parentheses):
    • Essential – County’s top priorities for preservation that include the most significant, best preserved, and key resources that best define Arlington history (23);
    • Important – central to County’s history, but less distinctive than and/or have less physical integrity than Essential (136);
    • Notable – have historic elements related to County’s history, but lack sufficient historic context, integrity, and/or significance compared to Essential and Important (83);
    • Minor – altered substantially over time and/or not distinctive examples of their building type (22);
    • Altered/Not Historic (36); and
    • Demolished (98).
  • Arlington is the first locality in Virginia to undertake such an ambitious project to rank its historic resources and is one of only a few nationwide.

Why is the Historic Resources Inventory needed?

  • The HRI is a planning tool to assist the property owners and the County in determining Arlington’s most valuable historic resources and how best to address preservation goals and development options simultaneously.
  • The survey work revealed that almost 25% of the surveyed properties have been demolished within the past decade alone.
  • This alarming number of demolitions either by-right or as part of County-approved site plans underscores the importance of developing forward-thinking strategies and incentives to protect the County’s most important historic buildings.
  • It will be an information-sharing tool to allow owners to become proactive stewards of their historic properties and help them realize available options for preservation and/or redevelopment.
  • It will be a comprehensive way to share fundamental information about the County’s historic built environment among County officials, departments, and staff, as well as with the public at large.

What does it mean to be on the Historic Resources Inventory?

  • The rankings represent the County’s findings as to the historical/architectural significance of specific properties when compared to others of the same type/group.
  • The ranking categories reflect the County’s priorities for preservation, with the Essential category of top concern, followed by the Important category.
  • Inclusion on the HRI list allows current and future owners and/or developers to benefit from preservation-minded tools and incentives.
  • The HRI will be a fundamental planning tool for County officials and staff to best advise current and future property owners and/or developers regarding preservation and/or redevelopment options.

What tools can be used to promote the preservation of Essential and Important buildings?

  • Rehabilitation tax credits: Federal and State tax credits are available for the rehabilitation of historic properties.
  • Preservation easements: Long-term protection initiated by owner, who in return can receive a sizable charitable tax deduction. Effective to preserve historic, architectural, or archaeological aspects of properties.
  • Listing in the National Register of Historic Places: Honorific list maintained by the National Park Service of nation’s most historically significant places. Does not provide demolition protection, but required to be eligible for Federal and State tax incentives for appropriate rehabilitation.
  • Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs): Increases in density may be possible in return for extraordinary community benefits such as building preservation. Essential and Important buildings in the HRI could be considered TDR donating sites.
  • Local historic district designation: Most effective tool since creates a protective zoning overlay and all exterior changes and/or demolitions require a separate design review process prior to the issuance of building permits.  To date, the County has 31 local districts, ranging from single buildings/sites to entire neighborhoods and apartment complexes.
  • Historic research, documentation, and architectural salvage: Research and documentation allows physical aspects of a resource to be captured for the County’s historical record for future research purposes. Salvage encourages the recycling and/or reuse of viable building materials and components, or other historic features.
  • Other tools the County could consider implementing: Local tax incentives for rehabilitation expenses; a revolving fund for rehabilitation loans or easement donations; or County acquisition and resale of historic buildings.


How do I learn more about the Historic Resources Inventory?

  • Contact Michael Leventhal, Historic Preservation Program Coordinator, at 703.228.3813
  • Contact Cynthia Liccese-Torres, Historic Preservation Planner, at 703.228.3831
  • Visit the County website for photographs and historical information on properties in the HRI: www.arlingtonva.us/departments/CPHD/ons/hp/page73165.aspx

Last Modified: April 14, 2014
2100 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA 22201 Tel: 703-228-3000 TTY: 703-228-4611