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Applicant Information - Frequently Asked Questions

What are the criteria used to consider listing a building on the Scottsdale Historic Register?

A building must have special historical significance to Scottsdale, Arizona or the United States to be considered for the local register. It must satisfy one or more of the criteria in the city’s Historic Property ordinance (Section 6.113). A building is eligible for the Scottsdale Historic Register if:

  • The building is associated with a significant historical event, OR
  • The building is associated with significant people in our past, OR
  • The building is the work of a master, possesses high artistic value or contains a special type of construction, OR
  • The property yields, or is likely to yield, important information in prehistory (usually applies to archaeological sites), AND
  • The building retains its integrity and has the physical features to convey its historical significance.

How will listing the building on the Scottsdale Historic Register affect the use of the building?

Designation as a historic property has no effect on its use. A property owner is free to sell, lease, transfer interests and/or use the building without any needed approvals or involvement with the city’s Historic Preservation Office.

Does designation bring special requirements for upkeep or maintenance?

Being listed on the Scottsdale Historic Register does not require that the owner perform any special inspections, repairs or improvements to the property.

What if I want to change/alter the integrity of the building after it is designated a historic property by the City?

For designated historic properties, physical alterations, that require a building permit, made to the exterior of a building must be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission, a seven member, appointed citizen body with expertise in historic preservation. Currently, the city staff or its Design Review Board must approve all development and changes made to existing buildings within the downtown. So historic designation does not add a new requirement, it simply changes who does the review. Additionally, all demolition requests for designated historic properties will be reviewed and approved by the Commission. Demolition is permitted if the building can demonstrate an imminent hazard or that its preservation imposes an economic hardship upon the owner. If approval is denied, plans for demolition may be delayed for up to one year to allow the Historic Preservation Officer an opportunity to find an alternative to demolition that is acceptable to the owner. If an alternative has not been found after one year and a Replacement/Reuse plan has been filed, a demolition permit will be issued.

What are my options if the proposed physical changes to the building or demolition request are not approved by the HPC?

A property owner can appeal the Historic Preservation Commission’s decisions by requesting a hearing before the City Council.

How will I know what kind of changes will be acceptable to the HPC?

Once designated, the HP ordinance requires the development of a “Preservation Plan” for all properties listed on the Scottsdale Historic Register. The Preservation Plan will be prepared for each property by the city’s historic preservation staff; however, the owner can also prepare a proposed plan. Ideally, the city staff and the owner will work together to create a plan that will assist public and private efforts in order to preserve the property. As part of each plan, standards and design guidelines needed to preserve and maintain the historic character of the property will be identified. These standards and guidelines provide information to the property owner (in advance of planning changes to the building’s exterior) and will be used by the Commission in making decisions for approval of applications for “Certificates of Appropriateness.”

How will my property benefit from being listed on the Scottsdale Historic Register?

Properties designated as historic will be eligible to participate in special programs or use specialized procedures that are currently being formulated to support the city’s historic preservation goals. While these programs have not yet been finalized or approved by the City Council, the following are types of assistance being considered:

Technical Assistance to:

  • Identify a building’s preservation or rehabilitation needs
  • Plan exterior improvements
  • Develop maintenance and/or preservation plans
  • Plan conversions to new uses
  • Help property owners participate in other city programs or State or Federal Historic Preservation programs Financial  

  Programs to:

  • Insure structural stability and adequate weatherproofing or install fire sprinklers
  • Address life safety and accessibility code issues
  • Maintain and/or rehabilitate a building’s exterior
  • Restore a building’s original design or lost architectural features Education and Promotion Programs including:
    • Plaques and/or markers to identify that a building is listed on the Scottsdale Historic Register
    • Brochures, publications, videos, etc. that explain the building’s historic and/or architectural significance
  • Special events that acknowledge and/or celebrate the properties’ contribution to the community

Who can nominate a property for possible Historic Property overlay zoning and listing on the Scottsdale Historic Register?

A local resource can be nominated for historic preservation zoning and listing on the register by the property owner, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Planning Commission or the City Council. Typically, the historic preservation zoning cases in Scottsdale are initiated by the Historic Preservation Commission for properties its members think are the best candidates for listing on the register.

Is the Scottsdale Historic Register just for old buildings or are there other types of resources that can be placed on the local register?

There are actually six different types or categories of historic resources in Scottsdale listed in the local ordinance. The types and examples of each include:

  • Buildings: stores and houses
  • Sites: petroglyphs on rocks or other archaeological resources
  • Structures: canals or bridges
  • Objects: sculptures, airplanes or trees
  • Districts: collections of related properties like a residential neighborhood or commercial area
  • Landmarks: Properties of exceptional importance to Scottsdale nominated for special recognition

How does a residential neighborhood become designated as Historic Property zoning overlay in the district category for multiple properties?

The Historic Preservation Commission (Commission) has been researching Scottsdale subdivisions to determine which neighborhoods are the best examples of their type and have maintained their historic character. The Commission will use this research to identify the neighborhoods that are eligible for being added to the local register and are the most significant neighborhood districts. A majority of the property owners (75%) in a proposed residential district can petition to have their neighborhood considered for the Scottsdale Historic Register. Once eligibility has been determined, local homeowner support is a very important part of the nomination process for designating a neighborhood district.

What happens if the owner wants to tear down a building with Historic Property zoning?

The request by the owner to demolish a building zoned historic property would be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission. A “Stay of Demolition” could be approved which would delay the issuance of a demolition permit while a suitable and economical use is pursued. The owner can appeal a stay by the Historic Preservation Commission to City Council. A stay of demolition lasts one year maximum. After the stay has expired, the owner can receive a demolition permit and proceed with the demolition.

How does Scottsdale manage the local historic preservation program and implement local ordinance regulations for historic properties and archaeology?

City Council appointed the Historic Preservation Commission in 1997 to develop and oversee the overall Scottsdale historic preservation program. The Commission works with the staff in the city’s Preservation Division and the city’s Historic Preservation Officer to manage the program. The city partners with the Scottsdale Historical Society and other private organizations or citizens groups on some historic preservation activities.

What steps are in the process for a property to be placed on the Scottsdale Historic Register and zoned Historic Property (HP)?

The process is similar to the public hearing process for other zoning cases in the city with some important variations. The Historic Preservation Officer must prepare a designation report on the historic significance of the resource and the Historic Preservation Commission must conduct a public hearing to determine whether the specific property is eligible for listing on the local register. The Planning Commission and City Council also conduct hearings on the rezoning. If City Council adopts the HP zoning a Historic Preservation Plan must be prepared for the property. Please refer to the flow chart  (pdf/65 kb/1pg) on the zoning process to see the steps.

What is an Historic Preservation (HP) Plan for properties on the register and zoned HP?

A Historic Preservation Plan must be prepared for each property on the Scottsdale Historic Register. Typically the plan is prepared by the city in consultation with the owner of the property. The plan contains design guidelines that the Historic Preservation Commission will use to review any changes to the property that require a hearing by the Commission. The plan also contains incentives and other public actions that the city has agreed to pursue to assist the property owner with the preservation of the historic resource. View the Historic Preservation Plan to view the complete ordinance text on the contents of the Plan.