Plan a Project in a Historic District

Exterior work in Kalamazoo's historic districts must be reviewed to make sure it meets historic preservation standards. Most of the time, work can be approved by the City's Historic Preservation Coordinator. Depending on the type and scope of work, it may need to be reviewed and approved by the Historic District Commission. If you are planning work in a historic district, make sure you get the needed approvals before buying materials, applying for permits, or starting work. 

If damage occurs to your property that requires emergency repairs, you can take measures to secure the property without approval. If this happens, please call the Historic Preservation Coordinator on the following business day. 

Plan a Project

Step 1.Is Your Property in a Historic District?

You can view historic districts and verify if your property is in one by using the BS&A Online Portal or GIS Maps. 

Using BS&A

Perform an All Records search for the property. Once you locate the record, view the Property Information Tab. Under the heading "General Information for Tax Year" there is a Historical District field that will tell you if the property is in a historic district or not.

Search BS&A Online

Using GIS Maps

Open GIS Maps and expand the list of layers by clicking the layers button in the top right corner of the browser window. From the list of layers under General Information, check the box for Historical Places. This will show an overlay of Kalamazoo's historic districts.

View GIS Maps

Step 2.Review Standards & Contact Historic Preservation Coordinator

Review the Historic District Standards that will apply to your project. Projects that fall within these standards can usually be approved administratively without approval of the Historic District Commission. 

View Historic District Standards

Projects that fall outside of these standards or that are in certain categories (like signage, replacement, demolition, or additions) must be reviewed by the Historic District Commission. Before proceeding, contact the Historic Preservation Coordinator to discuss your project. They can answer any questions you have and let you know what approvals are needed.  

Luis Pena
Historic Preservation Coordinator
penal@kalamazoocity.org
(269) 337-8804

Step 3.Submit an Application

Complete the application and be as specific as possible. Include support information, like sketches, measurements, and other specifications.

Historic District Application for Administrative Review(PDF, 56KB)
Historic District Application for Hearing(PDF, 87KB)
Historic District Application for Handrail or Guardrail Height Waiver(PDF, 135KB)
Historic District Application for Roof(PDF, 59KB)
Historic District Application for Satellite Dishes(PDF, 57KB)

You can return your applications by email to the Historic Preservation Coordinator, or in person or by mail to the Community Planning and Economic Development Office.

Applications for Historic District Commission Review are due at least one week before the scheduled meeting. Commissioners are provided the information in advance and may visit your property. The Historic Preservation Coordinator may also contact you to review your applications and take photographs of the building for use at the meeting. 

You will receive written notice confirming that your application will be reviewed at a Historic Preservation Commission meeting. 

Step 4.Application Review

If your project falls within the guidelines for administrative approval, the Historic Preservation Coordinator can approve it without review by the Historic District Commission. Most applications are approved this way. 

When needed, the Historic District Commission reviews applications individually at its meetings. The Historic Preservation Coordinator will present information about the project, and you can address the Commission too. The Commission may ask you questions and engage in a discussion of the project before taking a vote to approve or deny the application. 

If the application is approved, you will receive a Certificate of Appropriateness withing 10 days. If the application is denied, the applicable standards are cited and information on alternative work plans will be provided. Denial letters will also include instructions on how to appeal the decision to the State Historic Preservation Review Board.  

Step 5.Obtain Permits and Begin Work

Once approval has been obtained, you can proceed obtaining building permits, buying materials, and starting the project.