Demolition Review

In 2006 amendments to the Landmark Preservation Ordinance provided greater notice to the community when an un-designated, potential historic landmark faces demolition. These amendments were crafted by a group of stakeholders that included neighbors, preservationists, developers, realtors, planners and elected officials. The amendments were designed to put a stop to “surprise” demolitions that caught neighbors, city council members and preservationists without warning. The amendments create a demolition review period and provide a way for community members and property owners to discuss the long-term impact of demolition before a resource is lost forever.

The demolition review ordinance also created the Certificate of Non-Historic (CNH) Status, which is a tool that can be used by a property owner to gain certainty about the status of their building.  The CNH process is essentially identical to the demolition review process, but rather than receiving a demolition permit at the end of the process, an owner can receive a certificate that provides them with five years in which they could seek a demolition permit without repeating the demolition review steps.  It is best used as a due-diligence tool, and is not necessary if an owner of an un-designated structure merely wished to renovate or remodel their building.

Historic Denver believes in the principles underlying the demolition review ordinance, because such notification provides an opportunity for the community to discuss the merits of the property, the impact of demolition and possible alternatives. Most importantly, the demolition review provision ensures that a truly significant and valuable historic resource is not lost without reasonable consideration. The provision encourages owners of un-designated historic buildings to examine a wide range of reuse options before pursuing demolition.

As a reminder, Historic Denver is a non-profit advocacy organization and does not implement demolition review nor grant historic designations.  Those tasks are done by the City & County of Denver, Community Planning & Development Department and the Denver Landmark Commission.

FAQ on Demolition Review

Has a property in your neighborhood been posted as part of this process? Check our our Citizen's Guide to Demolition Review.

How it Works:

1) A property owner elects to apply for a Demolition Permit or Certificate of Non-Historic Status. A demolition permit provides authorization to demolish a building within 90 days. A Certificate of Non-Historic Status is a bit different. It provides certainty regarding a building's potential for historic designation, and if granted, ensures that the owner can receive a demolition permit with no further historic review for a period of five years. A Demolition Permit is typically used when demolition is imminent, while a Certificate of Non-Historic Status is typically used when an owner is considering what to do with a property. It can also be a due diligence tool for a prospective buyer if that buyer is interested in demolition in the future.

2) Once a demolition application or CNH is received by the City of Denver, staff has ten days to determine whether the building potentially meets the criteria for designation as an individual landmark. To be potentially eligible the building has to meet criteria in two out of three categories, history, architecture and geography. The building must also retain its historic integrity.

3) If the building is determined not eligible, the demolition permit or CNH are issued. If the building is determined potentially eligible the City is required to "post" the demolition application or CNH application notice on the building and notify City Council members and the closest Registered Neighborhood Association.

4) From the date of the posting a 21-day "clock" begins to tick. Within this 21 days the community has the opportunity to discuss the property, reach out to the property owner, and consider a course of action. Within this time frame community members can also elect to submit a designation application. If notice to submit a designation is received within the first 14-days, the 21-day time frame is extended to 28 days. To submit a designation there must be three applicants who are residents or property-owners in the City of Denver. The applicants must also pay an $875 fee.

5) If no designation (or intent to file) is submitted, the demolition permit or CNH is issued automatically at the expiration of the 21-day period. If a designation is submitted the formal designation process begins, including review by the Landmark Preservation Commission, a public hearing at the Commission, and consideration by City Council, with a public hearing. This process must be completed with 120 days of the original demolition or CNH application date. If it is not completed the demolition permit or CNH is issued.

While designation action is an option, the true value of the demolition review process is the window of time it provides for conversation. Historic Denver has created a protocol community members can follow when a building in their neighborhood is posted. We believe following this protocol can lead to collaborative and positive preservation outcomes.