Since buying property in the Historic Alphabet District, I’ve become much more educated about where it is and what it means to live inside of the District. Our current house is just two blocks away from our new house (under major remodeling) but is outside the District.
I’ve been trying to set up a property search that only includes properties that are truly a part of the District. If I search by neighborhood, the only active listing I get is actually outside the District. That’s potentially a liability to both the listing agent and the seller if the buyer thinks they are buying within the District (Buyer Beware). In the neighborhood listing field properties within the District have been listed as NW Flats, Nob Hill, 23rd, Northwest, and, of course, the Alphabet District.
Why is it important?
If I want to remodel our current home, I trek down to the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services and get a permit. If I want to do the same remodel at the new house, I make the same trek, apply for a permit, follow all of the Community Design Standards and the Historic Alphabet District Guidelines Addendum, wait eight to 12 weeks for the review process and pay an approximately an additional $700 above the price of the normal permit. Wouldn’t that be a shock if you didn’t know what you were getting into? The design review process applies to any exterior alteration- including paint color!
Additionally, some properties within the District are eligible for the State Historic Preservation Office’s Special Assessment Program. If the property is a “contributing property” to the District, the process for being accepted into the Special Assessment Program is streamlined for the homeowner. The program freezes the property taxes for 15 years.