Historic Preservation Design Guidelines
Welcome to the project webpage for the City of Houston Historic Preservation Design Guidelines project. Information about this project will be posted here as it becomes available. Your input is valued and encouraged!
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Project Update (2/13/17)On January 6, the Historic District Design Guidelines “Compatible Design Survey” was mailed to the owners of 3,486 properties in the Phase 1 historic districts: Houston Heights East, Houston Heights West, Houston Heights South, Freeland, Norhill, and Woodland Heights. Property owners were encouraged to respond by returning the paper copy in a supplied business reply envelope or by using an online version of the survey. The City publicized the survey by mailing a postcard to each property owner in advance, placing flyers in local businesses, and leaving door hangers on the doors of owner-occupied homes. Project staff also attended neighborhood association holiday gatherings in Woodland Heights, Norhill, and Houston Heights, and worked with neighborhood associations to broadcast information about the survey via their websites and social media. Individual property owners also posted on social media, and the City Planning Department utilized its Facebook and Twitter accounts to encourage participation. A total of 877 surveys were returned, successfully reaching the target participation rate of 25% overall. The highest participation rates were in Freeland (64% of 36 properties) and Woodland Heights (30% of 386 properties), and the highest number of responses came from Houston Heights East (237, or 26%) and Norhill (197, or 23%). Thank you to everyone who participated!
Winter & Company, the design guidelines consultants, are busy analyzing all of the responses. They will deliver a Strategy Paper in the next few weeks, detailing the project methodology so far, as well as their findings and general recommendations. This will be reviewed by staff and published online, as well as delivered to the City Council’s Quality of Life Committee. The consultants will present their findings and recommendations to the community on March 30 at a community workshop from 6:00-8:00 p.m. The location is being finalized and will be announced, as soon as possible, on this website as well as in a letter mailed to all property owners. The community will have access to the Strategy Paper for several weeks prior to the community workshop, and can provide comments prior to and for one week after the workshop.
Project Update (1/5/17)
Your input is needed! Surveys are being mailed to all property owners in the historic districts for which design guidelines are currently being developed. You should receive your survey sometime next week (the week of January 9). Please respond by either returning the survey in the provide postage-paid envelope OR complete a full-color version of the survey online. Click the link below to access the survey for your historic district.
These Visual Preference Surveys build on the feedback received from the community so far, and focus on those areas where we still need more clarity and direction regarding the perceived compatibility of additions and new construction, as well as potential design tools and issues affecting your neighborhood.
Please note: The building scenarios shown in the Surveys do not represent the consultants’ or the City’s recommendations; they are being used simply to gather your feedback. Also, if you own multiple properties, you may complete a separate survey for each property, since your answers may be different for properties in different parts of the historic district(s). However, you may only complete one survey (either online or on paper) for each property, and only one person in your household may complete the survey for each property.
Project Update (12/12/16)
Consultants at Winter and Company are working hard to prepare the Visual Preferences Surveys, customized for each historic district, which will be mailed to every property owner around January 9, 2017. An online version will also be available. Responses will be due no later than January 27. Please make your voice heard by completing your survey!
Note: Community members who have participated in the workshops so far, either in person or online, have provided very clear direction about what they believe is compatible or incompatible with their historic district. In general, small houses were considered compatible, while extremely large houses were considered incompatible. Therefore, while the Visual Preferences Survey will mention the types of houses for which we already have clear direction, we will not ask about those again. The Visual Preferences Survey will explicitly state that it seeks to clarify the areas in the middle, where there is less consensus.
To make property owners aware of the Visual Preferences Survey, the City will mail a postcard to all property owner. Neighborhood association volunteers may also go door-to-door to provide information and encourage residents to participate. If you would like to volunteer to help generate awareness in your neighborhood, please contact volunteer coordinator Brian McCollum at 281-728-7830 or email@example.com
For more information, or if you have questions, please contact project manager Steph McDougal at 832-393-6541 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project Update (12/2/2016)
The second community workshop for the Design Guidelines project was held on Thursday, December 1, 2016. This workshop presented information designed to help property owners give informed, meaningful feedback on a draft Visual Preference Survey, which every property owner will receive in January 2017. Consultants from Winter & Company explained the various design tools that might be used to achieve the goals for each district, as well as the factors that make additions and new construction compatible with existing buildings. The workshop also included an exercise designed to help the consultants further understand what the property owners in each district feel are compatible with their specific district.
Property owners who were not able to attend the workshop can access the meeting presentation, informational materials, and links to online versions of the workshop exercises below. Please complete the exercises no later than midnight, Monday, December 5, 2016. (The tight turnaround is unavoidable in order to maintain the project schedule.)
Video of the December 1st community meeting is now available.
Presentation and Handouts
Project Update (10/17/2016)
Video of the September 27 community meeting is now available.
Project Update (10/13/2016)
Online versions of workshop exercises from the September 27 Historic District Design Guidelines community workshop are now available for property owners in seven historic districts: Norhill, Woodland Heights, Freeland, Old Sixth Ward, and Houston Heights East, West, and South. The project team wants everyone who owns property in these seven historic districts to have a voice in the design guidelines development process, so we have created online versions of the interactive workshop exercises, in the form of short surveys.
Please take all four surveys: Activity 1, Activity 3-4, and Activity 5 are the same for all seven historic districts. Activity 2 surveys are customized for each district.
All will be available until October 24 on the Planning Department’s project webpage. Meeting materials are also available for viewing below.
Project Update (10/3/2016)
Last week’s Community Workshop (9/27/2016) featured an informational presentation by design guidelines consultants Winter & Company, followed by more than an hour of interactive exercises for participants. An online version of most of those exercises will be made available shortly for those who were not able to attend the workshop.
The design guidelines development process is both data-driven and community-driven. Data, including quantitative property information from the City's Geographic Information System (GIS), tells the project team about the physical characteristics of each property in each historic district and allows us to identify patterns of development – along with the metrics behind each neighborhood's unique character. This process is also community-driven. The project team needs to know if our understanding of the neighborhood's character, based on the data mentioned above, is the same as property owners’.
We also want to know what characteristics are most important to people in each historic district. In the meeting last week, Winter & Company presented the different patterns of development that they have identified in each historic district, and asked participants to give their input and feedback. The project team also wanted to know how easy it was to understand the technical information that we shared in the meeting, so we can make sure that when we get to the final product, everything will be clear and understandable. This most recent workshop is the 10th time that project manager Steph McDougal has met with groups of property owners from the various historic districts since December 2015.
Noré Winter made an informational presentation.
Using the “Issues Summary Worksheet”, participants were asked to consider each category (Neighborhood Character, etc.) and list all of the issues or topics that currently affect your historic district and/or should be considered during the design guidelines development process.
Winter & Company analyzed vast quantities of physical data about each of the different historic districts. The patterns of development that they identified were described in the Residential Typologies posters below. Participants were asked to share feedback on the Typology or Typologies that are specific to their historic district. They were also asked to locate those Typologies on aerial maps. The project team wanted to know: Does the Description, Site Characteristics, and Neighborhood Characteristics information capture the important features of your historic district? Have we missed or misunderstood anything? Is there anything else we should know?
- Norhill Historic District
- Freeland Historic District
- Woodland Heights Historic District
- Old Sixth Ward
- Houston Heights Historic Districts East and West
- Houston Heights Historic District South
In this exercise, Winter & Company presented “Massing Studies” (graphic illustrations) of possible additions. The goal of this exercise was to begin to develop an understanding of what people in each historic district think about the size and shape of additions. Using the massing studies for reference, participants were asked to complete the “Individual Activities” worksheet. Each massing study shows an Existing property, then four different potential Additions. There are examples of “Traditional” areas (with mostly original buildings) as well as areas with “Significant Variation” (in other words, more changes that have already taken place). Areas with mostly one-story buildings are shown separately from areas that include both one-story and two-story buildings. Note: the illustrations do not represent preconceived notions of the types of additions that might be considered – they simply represent various sizes and shapes of potential construction.
- Examples of Additions in Traditional areas with mostly one-story houses
- Examples of Additions comparing Traditional areas with mostly one-story houses to areas with Significant Variation and both one- and two-story houses
- Examples of Additions comparing Traditional areas with one-and two-story houses to areas with Significant Variation and both one- and two-story houses
This was just like the previous activity, except participants were asked to consider New Construction instead of Additions.
- Examples of New Construction in Traditional areas with mostly one-story houses
- Examples of New Construction comparing Traditional areas with mostly one-story houses to areas with Significant Variation and both one- and two-story houses
- Examples of New Construction comparing Traditional areas with one-and two-story houses to areas with Significant Variation and both one- and two-story houses
For this exercise, participants were asked to respond to a series of photographs of houses (not located in Houston) and identify what they liked or didn’t like.
Design Guidelines Project Resources
Community Meetings Summary - April - June 2016
Phase 1 Advisory Committee
Comments Received – October 2015-March 2016
Houston Heights Community Meeting #4 – 4/26/2016
Houston Heights Community Meeting #3 – 2/16/2016
Houston Heights Community Meeting #2 – 1/16/2016
Houston Heights Community Meeting #1 – 12/8/2015
Request for Proposals
Houston Heights Historic District
“What Design Guidelines May Be in Store for Three Houston Heights Historic Districts?” on Houston Matters – 12/3/2015
The next community workshop with Winter & Company will be held in the evening on March 30, 2017. The time and location will be announced as soon as possible.
Have questions or comments?
Please contact Steph McDougal, project manager, Planning & Development Dept., City of Houston.
Planning & Development, 6th Floor
City of Houston
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, TX 77251