Information on Historic Districts
There are two types of historic districts: One is a local designation and the other is a national designation. They are not mutually exclusive of each other. A historic district can have both types of designation, such as the Maywood Historic District. The national designation (see, for example, http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/VA/Arlington/districts.html ) comes from a nomination that is accepted by the National Register of Historic Places, a program run by the National Park Service, US Dept. of the Interior. This designation has no property owner restrictions with it. A building on the National Register is primarily honorific, but does serve as one of the requirements for Federal and State Tax Credit Programs dealing with the rehabilitation of historic buildings. For more information on these tax credits you can internet search them at both the National Park Service and the Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources.
The local designation is conferred by the Arlington County Board. With local designation all exterior changes to a building in the district, save for maintenance items, must be reviewed and approved by the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) before being able to secure any building permits. While the HARLB cannot stop teardowns indefinitely or prohibit new construction, it can slow the process down and make all new construction conform to a more compatible design with the neighborhood. The size of the building is a zoning matter and the HALRB cannot stop that which is allowed by right.
In both cases -- national and local designation -- the age of the neighborhood is at least 50 years. There are about 15 different criteria that go into analyzing an area to determine if it should be so nominated. Nothing of course can be nominated to either designation without majority support of the neighborhood.
Historic Preservation Coordinator