On Monday night, the Denver City Council approved an ordinance creating Denver’s fifty-third historic district: Packard’s Hill Historic District. Located in the West Highlands neighborhood, the District spans north to south from 35th to 32nd Avenue, and east to west from Lowell Boulevard to Perry Street. The new district encompasses eight city blocks, and includes thirty-nine Queen Anne-style houses, twenty-nine bungalows, and twenty-six classic cottage houses dating from the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Courts have generally upheld historic designations as legitimate exercises of governmental power because preservation ordinances foster civic pride, enhance tourism, and promote education. For individual home owners, a 2011 report by Clarion Associates, a national land-use consulting firm, found that residential properties in Denver’s historic districts appreciated at similar (or greater) rates relative to comparable properties in non-designated areas.
But historic designation is not without its costs. Major exterior changes to properties in historic districts—including replacement windows, roofs, exterior doors, and additions—must comply with the City’s Design Guidelines for Landmark Structures and Districts and be approved by the City’s Landmark Preservation Commission. To offset the cost of preservation and rehabilitation, the Colorado General Assembly passed the Historic Preservation Income Tax Credit in 2014, which provides owners of designated residential properties with a twenty-percent tax credit for qualified preservation and rehabilitation costs up to $50,000.