Minor ordinary maintenance and repairs involving identical materials and design (in-kind) may not require review such as small areas of siding replacement or a few pieces of trim. However, larger areas of in-kind repair and replacement as well as any work that would change any existing feature or material will require an application.Not all work that requires a historic district permit will require a building permit. Please note that windows and doors do not fall under this category; while they can be repaired they cannot be replaced without approval. The painting of wood surfaces does not require review nor does the choice of paint color. However, the painting of any masonry surface, regardless it it is currently painted, does require review and approval. Please contact the City’s Historic Preservation Specialist for a determination or with any questions:
City Planning Department
1120 Monroe NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Even when approval is needed it often can be given by the staff. Nothing is lost by asking advice, and much difficulty can be avoided in case approval is required.
Any work affecting the exterior appearance of structures, sites or open spaces within the designated historic district and to individual Historic landmarks needs to be approved prior to the work commencing.
“Work” includes repair, new construction, alteration, addition, moving, excavation or demolition. Interior changes are only reviewed if they will affect the exterior appearance.
Structures include houses, commercial or industrial buildings, garages, carriage houses, gazebos, fences, walls, driveways and other paved areas.
The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is established by City Ordinance under a Michigan enabling Statute. That statute lays out structures, procedures, standards and appeal processes to be followed by commissions like ours. The basic standards for review of applications are ones established by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. The HPC has existed since 1973, when Heritage Hill was designated as the first Historic District. Since then the Ledyard Block, Heartside, Fairmount Square, Wealthy Street and Cherry Hill districts have been added, along with a number of single structures and places all around the city (Maps and listings are available from historic preservation staff at 1120 Monroe NW.)
The HPC is composed of seven people appointed by the City Commission, with various backgrounds and expertise, sharing an interest in historic preservation. Most HPC members reside or work in one of the historic districts.