CAPITOL HEIGHTS HISTORIC DESIGNATION
Capitol Heights Neighbors:
Capitol Heights Civic Association is renewing our effort to seek Historic Designation for Capitol Heights. In order to secure Historic Designation, we need signatures of 60% of Capitol Heights property owners agreeing to designation.
Most of us live in Capitol Heights because of our older homes, sidewalks, large trees, and eclectic neighbors. I believe there are two initiatives that can help Capitol Heights become a healthier, safer, even more vibrant neighborhood and avoid decline.
The first initiative is the current move by some of our city councilors to regulate residential rental properties, landlords, and vacant properties with new ordinances and/or the enforcement of existing ordinances. These laws, if appropriately enforced, have the potential of requiring improved maintenance of neglected rental homes and constraining lease renewals for renters repeatedly involved in disturbances or criminal activities.
The second initiative that could improve our neighborhood is our effort to seek Historic Designation for Capitol Heights. Over the past decades, we’ve watched some of our historic neighborhoods decline, as their century-old homes have been boarded up or neglected beyond repair, rental properties have increased in number, home values have decreased significantly more than in the rest of Montgomery, and crime has risen. In several historic Montgomery neighborhoods, however, owner-occupied to rental ratios are healthier, property values have either been stable or increased in value more than other areas of Montgomery, community spirit has grown, and crime is lower. One key difference is the healthier older neighborhoods have secured Historic Designation. A study conducted by Auburn University several years ago reported that property values appreciated 42.3% in Montgomery’s Garden District (historic designation) while property values in the remainder of the city increased 8.3%.
What is Historic Designation? Neighborhoods may secure Historic Designation after a survey of all structures and neighborhood history is compiled, after 60% of all property owners within the designated neighborhood boundaries consent in writing to historic designation, and upon approval of the Montgomery Historic Commission and the Montgomery City Council.
Following Historic Designation, property owners must secure approval of the Architectural Review Board for construction, demolition, and remodeling, but not for interior changes, routine maintenance, or where material replacement is made with identical materials or paint colors are substantially the same as existing colors.
What difference might historic designation make in an older neighborhood? If a neighborhood has secured historic designation, there may be fewer neglectful landlords as it takes more time and care to maintain the exterior character of a historic home during repair or renovation. As the neglectful landlords leave, caring landlords will likely select more attentive renters. Property values may increase as investors have faith the historical integrity of the neighborhood will be protected. Crime may decrease if the neighborhood appears more cared for and if the process of working together for a common goal, such as historic designation, improves the social cohesiveness of the community.
Contact us with Questions or to Volunteer:
helen harris – 334-315-4904
Cynthia McCollister – 334-530-1097