The Commission on Chicago Landmarks designation process and criteria;
how landmarking and its tax incentives could affect you, and the differences from National Registry

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Preservation and Development task force, and the HPKCC website, Help support our program: Join the Conference!

To Landmark District Freq. Asked Questions. Landmark Districts in Hyde Park?
History and Preservation home
. Historic Preservation in Depth. Development and Public Policy.
Zoning Reform. Useful Tax and related Information for Seniors. Preservation Beat. Preservation Bulletins and Hot/Quick Topics.
Hyde Park Historical Society website

For links to organizations providing services and advice- see History- Preservation.
Peer-reviewed landmarks Illinois online guide, Illinois Restoration Resources:

About the Appellate Court ruling that Chicago's landmarks ordinance is "vague." From Landmarks Illinois, March 2009

[March 11 2009 the city appealed the Appellate Court ruling, joined by the Illinois State Preservation Agency, several other cities and villages (some outside Illinois), and both local and national preservation advocacy organizations, citing an overwhelming number of contrary rulings nationwide.
We also received clarification that the Commission can continue to recommend and the Cityh Council continue to desigate landmarks. GO]

On January 30, 2009, the Illinois Appellate Court issued a decision, in the case of Hanna v. City of Chicago, that the Chicago Landmark Ordinance is unconstitutional because it's too vague. While the decision did not overturn the ordinance, it did send shock waves through the preservation community while drawing promise from property rights advocates. Landmarks Illinois has received numerous inquiries regarding the impact of this ruling. Below, we address the most commonly asked questions.

Has the Chicago Landmarks Ordinance been overturned? No. The Appellate Court's ruling sends the case back to the trial court that had previously dismissed the case. Before the case returns to trial court, however, the City is expected to appeal the Appellate Court's decision to the Illinois Supreme Court. In the meantime, whether the Illinois Supreme Court hears the case or not, all designated Chicago Landmarks adn properties in Chicago Landmark Districts remain protected. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks will continue to conduct business, reviewing building permits and studying other potential properties for local landmark designation.

How long will it be until there is a final decision in the case? whether the case is next heard by the Illinois Supreme Court or the trial court, it will be a minimum of four to 12 months before the trial court hears it again. The duration of a trial, and whether there are further appeals, means the cast is not expected to be settled in less than a year-and-a-half.

How likely will the Chicago Landmarks Ordinance be ruled unconstitutional? At this point, based on national case law, it is unlikely the ordinance will be ruled unconstitutional. The Chicago Landmarks Ordinance has functioned constitutionally fo 40 years adn contains language commonly seen in landmark ordinances nationwide. In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled New York City's landmarks ordinance was valid, upholding a municipality's authority to regulate the protection of historic properties and rejecting a challenge to the ordinance based upon the vagueness argument. In the same way that municipalities have the right to determine appropriate zoning, a landmarks ordinance enables a community to protect the character of neighborhoods, as well as protect individual historic properties.

What is Landmarks Illinois doing to help? Landmarks Illinois' legal advisors will continue to monitor the status of the case. When the City files an appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, we will provide a letter of support if the city deems it appropriate. Landmarks Illinois also is contacting other interested organizations, both local and national, to support this appeal process. Updates on the case progress will be made available via our website: www.Landmarks.org_news.htm.

Support Our Efforts. Landmarks Illinois is now accepting donations for a fund that will support potential legal fees regarding this issue. Please send a check to Landmarks Illinois, 53 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 1315, Chicago, Ill. 60604.


The Historic Preservation Process, including Nominations to the National Register of Historic Places (by someone who went through it)

Note what happens in case of owner objection. Promontory Point, for example has been determined to be eligible, but its listing is blocked until there should be a concurrence by the Chicago Park District. The City (Planning and Landmarks Commission) also has the right to comment- comments by such certified local governments are generally decisive where there is any question.

The building board cited below found it advisable to engage a professional facilitator. Building board members and residents also spent long hours researching the building's history and records. As a result, following the requisite hearings in Springfield, the Narragansett, 1640 E. 5oth Street, was recommended by the State Officer and was under final consideration in Washington as of winter, 2005. This website gives its congratulations for hard work and for recognition of a building important to the history and fabric of our neighborhood.
Story of the Narragansett, see Preservation Hot page. Process info contact.

Winter 2005 Conference Reporter.

"Creating a Hyde Park landmark district has been talked about for almost three decades to no avail...Nearly 220 survey-rated buildings sit in a proposed Hyde Park landmark district outlined for the Chicago Landmarks Commission in 1986." Hyde Park Herald, 10/27/04

The following [IHPA] guidelines were used by the board of the Narragansett in seeking landmark status. David Guyer, Narraganset Board President

Historic places are nominated to the National Register by the State Historic Preservation officer (SHPO) of the state in which the property is located. Any individual can prepare a nomination to the National Register. Nomination forms are documented by property owners, local governments, citizens, or the SHPO staff. Nominations by states are submitted to a state review board, composed of professionals in American history, architecture, prehistoric and historic archeology, and related disciplines. The review board recommends to the SHPO either to approve the nomination if, in the board's opinion, it meets the National Register criteria, or to disapprove the nomination if it does not.

During the time the proposed nomination is reviewed by the SHPO, property owners and local officials are notified of the intent to nominate and public comment is solicited. Owners of private property are given an opportunity to concur in or object to the nomination. If the owner of a private property (or the majority of private property owners for a property or district with multiple owners) objects to the nomination, the historic property cannot be listed in the National Register. In that case, the SHPO may forward the nomination to the National Park Service only for a determination of eligibility. If the historic property is listed or determined eligible, then the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation must be afforded the opportunity to comment on any Federal project that may affect it.

The SHPO forwards nominations to the National Park Service to be considered for registration if a majority of private property owners has not objected to listing. During the National Register's evaluation, another opportunity for public comment is provided by the publication of pending nominations in the Federal Register.

Note: The National Register of Historic Places is a federal program, and all applicants go through similar procedures. Except on federal or tribal lands, applications are initiated in the state in which the property is located.

Steps in the application process

Step 1: The applicant reviews information about the National Register from materials received from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), Preservation Services Division.

Step 2: The applicant sends information to the staff for advice about the suitability of a place for listing in the National Register. This information will assist us in determining whether or not your property or neighborhood may merit National Register listing.

Step 3: The applicant receives an advisory staff opinion and full application materials if the staff believes the place to be a likely candidate for the National Register. If the applicant receives a negative staff opinion, but wishes to prepare a nomination form, they can request the full application materials. The points in the staff's advisory letter will deserve special attention in the nomination form. The points raised by the staff anticipate difficult questions that will likely be raised by subsequent reviewers. Applicants with properties within a Certified Local Government (CLG) community may be required to provide additional documentation.

Step 4: The applicant must return a complete nomination form (required information including maps, photographs and slides). If the information is incomplete or incorrect, the applicant will receive an explanation of the additional required information.

Step 5: If the property is within a CLG community (Chicago is a CLG) the community has the authority to comment on the eligibility of the property for listing on the National Register. The form will be forwarded to the local government to review and submit its opinion to this office. The applicant should bd aware of an additional 60-day review period for properties within Certified Local Government communities. Applicants with properties within a CLG are encouraged to contact the local historic preservation commission at an early stage in the nomination process. Applicants with properties NOT in a CLG may skip this step.

Step 6: The complete and correct nomination form will be scheduled for the next meeting of the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council. There are deadlines throughout the year for the Council meetings. The owner of the property and the relevant local government are notified of the Council's pending consideration and are given at least 30 days before the Council's meeting to comment on the proposed designation. In cases where there are more than 50 owners within a proposed historic district, owners will be given general notice by newspaper legal notice. At the Council meeting, the applicant and other interested parties can address the Council relative to the proposed designation, according to the Council By-Laws.

Step 7: If the Council advises for designation of the property, the nomination will be forwarded to the State Historic Preservation Officer of the Illinois State Preservation Agency, who evaluates the place and can nominate it to the National Register.

Step 8: The Keeper of the National Register, Washington, D.C., who has the final authority to designate a place, will review the nominated place. All interested parties will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed designation. If the nomination is approved, the place is designated in the National Register of Historic Places.

Components of the Application

Statement of Integrity
Submitted on a separate piece of paper [consists of:]

Provide the street address or legal location of the property. For districts or sites, provide t he boundaries of the area.

Indicate the type of property--is it a residence? Commercial building? Barn? Include other structures on the property that may also be significant (a garage that was constructed at the same time as the house, or a silo that was built during the farm's period of significance). If describing a district or site, include what type (residential district, park, farmstead, etc.). Give and estimated number of properties within a district.

Date built
Indicate the date built. If unknown, give an approximate date. For districts, give a range of dates, beginning with the earliest known date of construction (i.e.: 1925-1998).

Original use
Indicate the historic use(s) of the property.

Original Description
Describe the property as originally constructed. For districts, give an indication of how many properties have basically maintained their original appearance.

Indicate whether new materials, such as vinyl or aluminum siding, have been installed. For districts, give an estimate on the number of properties that have new materials.

Alterations/New Additions
Indicate whether interior or exterior alterations (new windows, porches, remodeling) or additions have been made to the property. Include dates. Also indicate if any materials, features, etc. have been removed since its construction. For districts, indicate how many properties have significantly altered their original appearance.

Statement of Significance

Association with events, activities, or patterns
Did a historic event occur there? Was the building used by the community for education, government, social, or business?

Association with important persons
Is the site important because historic figures lived or worked there?

Distinctive physical characteristics of design, construction, or form
Does the property or site represent certain architectural styles or building types? Is it the work of one or more important architects? Builders? Artists? Planners?

Potential to yield important information
Does the property or site have any archaeological significance?

Additional Supporting Documentation

For individual properties, include photographs of al exterior sides and all rooms on all floors. For larger structures (hotels, apartments, etc.), submit representative photographs of similar rooms (offices, hotel rooms, etc.) but include interior photographs of the rooms on the main level. For historic districts, include photographs of representative views, streetscapes, and vistas. Photographs should be no smaller than 3" x 5" and can be color, black and white, or digital. Be sure to label all photographs.

Floor Plan/Site Plan
Include floor plans of individual properties and key photographs to the floor plans. For districts and sites, include site plans

Location Map
Include a map showing he location of the property or site.

Financial Benefits of Listing on the National Register

Individuals who participate in this program will accrue significant property tax savings during the period for which the Certificate of Rehabilitation is in effect. Individuals participating in the program will remain eligible for both the homeowner's exemption and the senior citizen exemption offered by the Cook County Assessor's Office. This can result in substantial tax savings over a period of several years.

The Required Procedure and Result to obtain the Certificate of Rehabilitation and tax benefits:

Contact information

Further information on the National Register process may be obtained from Amy Easton at (217) 785-0315 (or email at The mailing address is:
Amy Easton, Assistant Survey and National Register Coordinator
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
1 Old State Capitol Plaza
Springfield, IL 60701


Department of Housing and Planning [or Housing and Development],
Commission on Chicago Landmarks
33 North LaSalle Street, Suite 1600. Also given as 121 N. LaSalle (Suite 1000?)
Chicago, IL, 60602
312 744-3200, TDD 312 744-2958
Reach website from
To contact concerning Commission dates, location of meetings, and agenda: Terry Tatum, 312 744-9147. The Commission generally meets on the first Thursday, 12:45.

The City of Chicago designation process

  1. Request for Local Landmark Designation
    Buildings or districts recommended for designation by members of the public, civic groups, or Commission on Chicago Landmarks' staff. (Listing a property on the National Register of Historic Places is handed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.)
  2. Designation Report by Commission Staff
    Staff researches historic and architectural significance of properties; staff submits report to Commission
  3. Preliminary Recommendation of Eligibility
    Commission votes whether to proceed with designation .A positive vote gives Commission authority to review building permits during the designation process.
  4. Report from Department of Planning and Development
    Statement of how the proposed landmark designation fits with neighborhood plans and policies.
  5. Commission seeks Owner Consent
    Owner consent is advisory - not required for designation. Where "non-consent/no response," a public hearing is required.
  6. Final Commission Recommendation
    After a review of the designation record, Commission votes whether to recommend designation to City Council.
  7. Hearing by City Council's Landmark Committee
    Commission's recommendation referred to Committee on Historical Landmarks Preservation, which votes whether to recommend to City Council.
  8. Designation Vote by City Council
    Designation of a Chicago Landmark is a legislative act of the Chicago City Council


Criteria for Designation of Proposed Chicago Landmarks

[Ed.- To reference applicable Municipal Code sections, visit Jackson Park/Statute of the Republic (Designation Document) and South Shore Cultural Center/SS landmark criteria. Or visit the Commission in the city's site.]

In reviewing a building or district for landmark designation, the commission on Chicago Landmarks (a nine-member board appointed by the Mayor) considers seven criteria, as outline in the Municipal Code of Chicago:

  1. Its value as an example of the architectural, cultural, economic, historic, social, or other aspect of the heritage of the City of Chicago, State of Illinois, or the United States.
  2. Its location as a site of a significant historic event which may or may not have taken place within or involved the use of any existing improvements.
  3. Its identification with a person or persons who significantly contributed to the architectural, cultural, economic, historic, social, or other aspect of the development of the City of Chicago, State of Illinois, or the United States.
  4. Its exemplification of an architectural type or style distinguished by innovation, rarity, uniqueness, or overall quality of design, detail, materials, or craftsmanship.
  5. Its identification as the work of an architect, designer, engineer, or builder whose individual work is significant in the history of the City of Chicago, State of Illinois, or the United States.
  6. Its representation of an architectural, cultural, economic, historic, social or other theme expressed through distinctive areas, districts, places, buildings, structures, works of art, or other objects that may or may not be contiguous.
  7. Its unique location or distinctive physical appearance or presence representing an established and familiar visual feature of a neighborhood, community, or the City of Chicago.


Chicago Landmarks: Q and A for owners

Set of questions #1

Q. What are the restrictions on designated landmarks?
A. When a property is proposed for Chicago Landmark status, and after its designation, all building permit applications are evaluated to determine whether the work will affect what are called "significant historical and architectural features" of the proposed landmark; work on these features must be approved by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. For all proposed designations, those significant features are defined at the beginning of the designation process and codified in the designation ordinance adopted by the City Council. For landmark districts, the significant features typically are the exterior building elevations visible from the public right-of-way.

Q. When is a building permit required and for what kind of work?
A. No additional City permits are required for Landmark buildings. The Commission simply reviews permits as part of the normal building permit process. The Commission annually review more than 900 permits for Landmark properties, most of which are approved in one day. Routine maintenance work, such as painting and minor repairs, does not require a building permit. Under the City's Rehabilitation Code, there is also a special provision that allows for greater flexibility in applying the Building Code to designated landmarks in order to preserve significant features of such buildings. More information on getting a permit is available from the Landmarks Division.

Q. How does the Commission evaluate proposed changes to existing buildings or the design of new construction?
A. The Commission has established criteria to evaluate permit applications for both renovations and new construction. These criteria and the Commission's review procedures are published a part of the Rules and Regulations of the Commission of Chicago Landmarks (pages 11 through 10). The basis for the criteria is the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. The Commission also has adopted policies regarding many aspects of rehabilitation work, and these policies are detailed in Guidelines for Alterations to Historic Buildings and New Construction, available from the Landmarks Division.

Q. Does the Commission have jurisdiction over zoning?
A. The Commission has no jurisdiction over zoning. The Commission can, however, recommend reductions in the depth of required setbacks in certain instances to ensure that the character of a Landmark District is maintained.

Q. How does landmark designation affect property values: Will landmark designation affect property taxes?
A. Both of the above are frequently asked questions. As far as the value of property is concerned, the factors affecting value are quite varied and depend on the individual property, its location, etc.; in the eyes of some buyers, landmark designation is regarded as an asset, and both real estate advertisements and real estate agents often tout this as a selling point. Studies on the effect of landmark designation on property values have generally shown that it does not have a negative impact on property values. As for real estate taxes are concerned, neither the valuation of property by the Cook County Assessor's Office nor the tax rate is affected directly by landmark designation.

Q. What are the Advantages of landmark designation?
A. Landmark status can enhance a building's prestige, increase the value of property and help stabilize and entire neighborhood. There are also specific benefits available under federal and local economic incentive programs. Additional information about these incentive programs is available from the Landmarks Division.


Question set #2, General Landmarking Questions, being distributed to small meetings of residents in the potential Hyde Park District

  1. How could a Landmark District benefit Hyde Park?
    The reason many communities choose to be designated a landmark district is to maintain the beauty and character of their neighborhood by preserving its historic buildings and streetscape. Most of the almost 40 landmark districts in Chicago were created because there was a threat to that historic environment through tear-downs, over-development or out-sized reconstruction.
  2. How does a group of residential buildings become a Landmark District in the City of Chicago?
    Typically, a substantial number of the residents of a neighborhood, both owners and renters, express their desire for a landmark district to their alderman and to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. If the district has the support of the alderman, and if the Commission finds that the group of buildings qualifies as historically significant, the group is then granted "Preliminary Landmark Status" by the Commission. Preliminary designation temporarily halts demolition of all historic buildings until a final determination can be made if the district does meet the criteria for landmark status. Public hearings are t hen held. If the hearings do not alter the preliminary decision by the Commission, the Commission makes a recommendation for full "Landmark" status to the City Council. The City Council's Committee for Historical Landmarks then makes a determination, which, if favorable, is forwarded to the floor of the City Council for an official vote that formally establishes the Landmark District. This is a slow, deliberate process that can take a year or more.
  3. What benefits does a property owner receive from having his/her building landmarked?
    There is a reputation of quality and real estate marketability that is achieved when an owner's neighborhood is officially designated as a landmark. Landmark property owners benefit from the official commitment to historic preservation and the security of knowing that their property and neighborhood will not be negatively affected by rapid development trends in the future. The Kenwood Landmark District is a good example of the positive effects of a landmark district.
  4. What part of my home would be landmarked?
    The Commission on Chicago Landmarks (CCL) is concerned with the principal facades including the roof line and other elements visible from the public sidewalk and street. For most buildings, this means that only the street-fronting facade is landmarked, with the owner free to alter the sides and rear of the building. If you own a corner building, they would be concerned with the two facades. They do not consider the view from the rear alley. They also so not regulate what you chose to do to the interior of your home.
  5. What is the main difference between a City of Chicago landmark designation and a National Register of Historic Places designation?
    The national Register designating, which most of Hyde Park already has, does not prevent demolition nor does it regulate new development or reconstruction. It may create a delay in demolition if the designated property is going to be demolished as part of a federally funded project. The City of Chicago designation is the only designation that does protect against demolition or significant alteration of the landmarked facades of the buildings your neighborhood.
  6. What is a "non-contributing" building?
    When a landmark district is created, the Commission determines a "period of significance" for the district. For example, in our neighborhood, the "period of significance" is probably 1867-1929. Buildings built outside that period, in most cases would bed considered "non-contributing". Also, architecture that is of the period but deemed to be significant or has been too altered might also be considered "non-contributing." Non-contributing buildings can be demolished. However, the design of what replaces them is regulated by the Commission.
  7. Can buildings within a Landmark District be demolished?
    Only if they are non-contributing or have some massive structural failure.
  8. Are those buildings identified at the outset?
    Yes. When the Commission prepares a designation repot, each building is identified as either contributing, non-contributing or potentially contributing. A potentially contributing building many simply be be a house that is currently covered in aluminum siding, but would become contributing if the siding were removed.
  9. Can a building owner opt-out of a Landmark District?
    Individual owners cannot opt out of a landmark district.
  10. Are there hardship cases?
    An owner can make an appeal to the Commission if they have a financial hardship with regards to their designated property. Their case is reviewed and relief can be negotiated on a case by case basis. (For more information, please refer to the Landmarks Ordinance, Section 2-120-830.)
  11. How many Landmark Districts are there in Chicago?
    There are currently 37 historic districts, with more on the way. The first historic district was created in 1971 on Alta Vista Terrace in Lakeview. Some well known districts include Old Town, Wicker Park, Mid North, Ukrainian Village, Pullman, Motor Row, South Michigan Avenue, and Armitage/Halsted. On the South Side we have the Calumet-Giles-Prairie, Oakland, North Kenwood, Kenwood, Washington Park Court, Greenwood Row House, Jackson Park Highlands, Pullman, Longwood Drive and Walter burley Griffin Place districts. Districts slated for designation in 2005 include the Newport Avenue, Milwaukee/Diversey/Kimball, Logan Square Boulevard, Terra Cotta District, and Ukrainian Village Extension districts.


  1. Can I replace my windows or do I have to live with the leakey windows I currently have? If reparable, the Commission would first encourage you to repair them. If beyond repair, windows can be replaced. If they are the original windows (wood, for example), they have to be replaced with a window that matches the original profile. Anderson, Marvin, Pella, as well as others, make replacement windows that conform to Commission standards. However, only those windows visible from the public right of way need to conform to Commission standards. All others can be replaced as the owner sees fit.
  2. Can I add an addition to the rear?
    Yes. And, as long as it's not visible from the public right of way, the Commission doesn't regulate the design.
  3. Can I add to the side of my house if I live on a wide corner lot?
    In most cases yes. But if it's visible from public right of way, the addition has to meet Commission standards. (Public right of way does not include alleys.)
  4. Can I add a floor to the top of my house?
    It is zoning that will dictate whether a person can add an addition t the top of his home. However, if you live in a landmark district, and if the zoning does allow it, the answer in many cases is yes. But it must not be visible from the public right of way.
  5. Can I replace anything inside?
    Historic elements of some large building in Chicago are landmarked inside and out. for example, the lobby and the auditorium of the Chicago Theater are landmarked and cannot be destroyed. However, the Commission does not specifically designate the historic interiors of residential homes in landmark districts, so owners are free to remodel the interiors as they see fit. But, owners who wish to take advantage of the tax freeze program may be require to retain and restore period moldings, doors, fireplaces, columns, etc. if they currently exist in any rooms facing the public right of way.
  6. Can I paint my house any color I want to?
    Yes. The Commission doesn't regulate paint color.
  7. Does the Commission control things like landscaping, driveways and sidewalks?
    No. However, if you have a historic fence or garden wall, that may be included in the landmark designation and therefore wouldn't be able to be removed or altered. But, these historic elements would be identified to the owner in the designated report.
  8. Is the Commission going to force me to restore my house back to the way it looked at the time it was built?
    No. When a building is drawn into a new Landmark District, it's grandfathered in its present condition. You are not required to do anything to the home except maintain it to the minimum standards of the building code, something that is required of ALL property owners in the City of Chicago. You can replace non-historic elements in kind, like vinyl windows, or aluminum siding, or an asphalt roof, it that is what currently exists on your home. If you choose to do a full restoration in keeping with the Landmark district's character, the CCL will assist you in your renovation project to assure that it conforms to the original architecture as closely as possible. These kinds of major renovation projects may qualify you for one or more tax breaks, as mentioned below in the "financial" section.

    NOTE: The Architectural Review Committee of the Commission evaluates each design issue on a case-by-case basis. The process is not meant to be adversarial, but to be collaborative with the homeowners in working towards solutions that will maintain the beauty and character of the neighborhood. for more information, contact the CCL at: 312-744-3200. The 4700 block of Kimbark Ave in the Kenwood District is a very good example of the results of the review process.
  9. When does the Commission get involved with my home?
    Anytime an owner of a historic landmark applies for a building permit, the Commission is notified. Routine permits, like remodeling a bathroom, usually pass through the office in less than a day since no review is required.
  10. I own a vacant lot next to my house with its own tax ID number. Can I build a house on that lot?
    Yes, as long as the design meets the Commission design standards.


  1. Does being in a landmark District increase the time it takes to get a building permit?
    Generally not. The Commission prides itself on its ability to process permits quickly. In 2003, 88% of the permit reviews took one day or less. Otherwise, it depends on the circumstance. If it takes longer, it generally has more to do with such issues as zoning, heating or plumbing--not because of its being in a Landmark District.
  2. Is there a public process if I object to what I am asked to do to my house or what my neighbors are doing to their house?
    Yes. The Commission meets once a month, during which a design review committee will her grievances in a public forum. It's an open transparent process, where you have the opportunity to voice concerns about your own property, or that of your neighbor.


  1. What are the tax advantages--if any?
    Owners of owner-occupied contributing buildings in any historic district may qualify for an 8-year property tax freeze administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA) if they make a significant investment in rehabbing their property according to IHPA standards. Owners who invest 25% or more of the Assessed Market Value (as indicated on their Cook County tax bill) into renovations of their home, can freeze their taxes for 8 years. After 8 years the tax rate gradually increases over 4 years to the market rate. Since Hyde Park is a National Register District, most property owners already qualify for this tax freeze.
  2. What happens to my property value? Do property values go down in Landmark Districts?
    The National Trust for Historic Preservation has analyzed numerous studies of property values in Landmark Districts throughout the country over the years. These studies have shown no indication that property taxes in landmark districts go down simply because they are landmark districts. In fact, these studies seem to indicate that the value of homes in landmark districts tend to appreciate at a slightly higher rate than similar building stock outside the district. There's no data that proves why that's so, but it is commonly thought that there is more predictability and physical stability in a landmark district. Properties tend to be improved rather than neglected and the neighborhood is safe from rampant and unregulated real estate speculation. Interestingly, real estate agents often use the headline "Landmark District" in their ads as an attractive selling point. An extensive study of New Your City landmark districts commissioned by the New York City Budget Office in 2001 reinforces these earlier studies.
  3. Would a landmark district prevent me rom selling my contributing historic home to a developer for a tear-down?
    Yes. However, owners of historic homes should not conclude that they would not be able to sell their home or a fair price or that the value of their investment will go down once a landmarked district is enacted. The overriding market force behind the value of real estate has always been location, location, location. In many cities, including Chicago, landmark districts are often the most desirable and sought-after places to live. They tend to be stable and beautiful neighborhoods with a high degree of owner pride.
  4. What happens to my property taxes:
    Nothing. The Cook County Assessor does no use Landmark Districts as a criterion for determining property taxes.
  5. What about my hazard insurance. Will it go up?
    No, landmark districts are not used as a criterion in factoring insurance rates.
  6. Why should I willingly give up the right to maximize the profit on the sale of my home if a developer offers me a lot of money for a teardown?
    This is the most common question asked and most difficult to answer because it involves more than just monetary values. Communities have to collectively decide what factors represent a livable environment and then balance those factors against their expected or assumed profit. If a person buys a property simply to maximize an investment, he or she may not take kindly to landmarking. However, if residents value the beauty, harmony and scale of the existing architecture of their community and wish to be able to moderate future change to their built environment, then they may consider giving up some freedom in order to cooperatively form and manage a landmark district. Ultimately, the decision to landmark is in the hands of the community and the alderman. The important part of this process is that all of the facts, all of the pros and cons, and all points of view must be aired in an open and civilized forum so that the community can make an informed decision.


Economic Incentives for repair and rehab of historic buildings

Note: The Narragansett, 1640 E. 50th, is among the latest to file for facade rebate. Meticulous research was done, a state IHPA hearing was held, a favorable recommendation to Washington was made, where status was granted.


Rental only. Chicago Landmark Districts contrib'g, National Registry contrib'g get 20% Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit ($ for $ credit to 20% of cost, cost must = 100% of purchase minus land and depreciation plus prior improvements.)

Owner-occupied only. Landmark, District, or National Reg. contrib'g. get Property Tax Freeze for 12 years for all kinds of owner-occupied bldgs. up to 6 units. Minimum investment 20% market value.
Also: Facade Easement Donation, a one-time charitable Federal income tax deduction equal to appraised value of the easement. (Easement: legal agreement giving right of review and approval of alteration to qualified non-profit (here: LPCI).

Also: Permit Fee Waiver

Commercial and Industrial Buildings, Offices and Hotels

Class-L Property Tax Incentive. Reduces property tax rate for 12 years. Must be Class 3, 4, 5a/5b use. Min. investment 50% of assessed value land-subtracted.

20% Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit. As per residential.

10% Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit. Similar but for income-producing but non-residential building constructed prior to 1936 but not on the National Register or a Chicago Landmark District. Same investment requirements.

Facade Easement Donation. As per residential

Facade Rebate Program. Certain qualifying buildings: 30% or 50% of approved costs up to $5,000 for storefront or $10,000 for industrial unit.

Permit Fee Waiver.

Check out also other economic development and assistance programs: ITF, Enterprise Zone, Vintage Homes Program, Rental Chicago Business Assistance programs. Plus special allowances from some building code requirements. Technical assistance expertise, free.