South Hull Seeks Historic Designation

Midtown is filled with historic neighborhoods– that’s a big part of its charm. A number of them also have gone through the city’s process of historic designation. South Hull District is joining Old Cloverdale, Cloverdale-Idlewild, the Garden District, Cottage Hill, Capitol Heights and Highland in pursuing historic designation.

“Seeking historic designation is a top priority for the South Hull District Association.  We are a neighborhood of beautiful historic houses, mature trees, and wonderful people.  We are convinced that winning this designation will stabilize our property values and keep our crime rates low,” says SHDA president Susie Paul.

Studies have proven that historic designation does significantly improve property values. A 2002 study by Dr. Keivan Deravi  of the AUM School of Business showed that in a 10 year, period property values in the Garden District appreciated 42.35 percent, in contrast to those in the city as a whole, which only rose 8.3 percent.

As Sandra Nickel notes, “Local historic designation gives prospective buyers real peace of mind because they know that what they see and like now in the neighborhood will be perpetuated–no ugly strip centers or awkward additions to detract from the visual experience or damage their property value across the years.  If anyone wonders if local designation is really worth it, all they have to do is drive over to the 1000 block of Glen Grattan and take a gander at the cancerous growth appended to house there.  Historic designation would have prevented that travesty!”

The first step in the process is for the SHDA (South Hull District Association)  to obtain signatures from 60 percent of its residents, attesting their interest in receiving historic designation. The association has had multiple meetings to answer questions about what historic designation would mean to the residents, including what sort of changes would have to be reviewed by the city’s Architectural Review Board. Essentially, changes to the exterior of the home, including tree removal, must receive a certificate of appropriateness. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds– most changes are approved, although sometimes the board makes minor changes to the proposed design. The idea is to protect the character and integrity of the neighborhood.

The response from the residents has been very positive. In the initial push, around 30 percent of the residents signed the form expressing their interest in pursuing historic designation. The next phase involves those initial responders contacting their neighbors, explaining the process and answering questions. “It’s a big job, but we are organized and working through the process of seeking the necessary additional consents from our neighbors.  We may early in the next year be knocking on doors,” says Susie Paul.

South Hull District Association hopes to finish obtaining the necessary signatures sometime early next year. Then they will move into the next phase of the process– writing a history of the neighborhood.  By mid-2012 the process should be complete and the South Hull District will join other midtown neighborhoods as one of Montgomery’s protected historic neighborhoods. Susie Paul notes: “Once we have our historic designation, we will join Cloverdale, Cloverdale Idlewild, and the Garden District. To be part of this larger community is an exciting prospect for us.”

Heather Coleman is a freelance writer and part-time DIY’er who mostly manages to fit her projects in around her family and her volunteer work. She lives with her husband, two boys and two pets in Midtown.


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