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Preservation Review of Raze Applications

The Historic Preservation Office (HPO) reviews all raze applications under the following process, in coordination with the Department of Buildings (DOB).

Step 1: Receipt of Application

DOB gives the permit applicant a blank raze clearance letter for each office that must clear the raze application. The applicant submits the appropriate clearance letter to each office, including HPO.

Step 2: Public Notice

DOB emails the notice of raze applications to Advisory Neighborhood Commissions every two weeks. HPO receives a copy of this notice and transmits the information to all persons on its email distribution list. An updated list of Raze Permit Application Notices is accessible as a Related Content link below.  

Step 3: Review for Non-Historic Property

For non-historic property, HPO typically holds applications for the length of the required ANC notice period. HPO may also request photographs to confirm posting of the notice placed on the property. If an application clearly raises no historic preservation concerns, HPO may use its discretion to sign off on the application before the notice period expires.

Step 4: Review for Historic Property

For historic property, HPO reviews applications according to the procedures required in the DC historic preservation law. The law discourages demolition of historic landmarks and properties contributing to the character of historic districts. Typically, an application to raze a historic property must be referred to the Historic Perservation Review Board for a recommendation, and to the Mayor's Agent for a public hearing, as follows:

  • HPO submits the application to HPRB for review. If HPRB recommends against issuance, the applicant may request further review by the Mayor's Agent.
  • If the demolition has already been authorized by the Mayor's Agent, HPO clears the raze application.
  • If the building does not contribute to the character of the historic district (a "non-contributing" building), HPO clears the raze application because the demolition is permitted under the preservation law.
  • If there is a pending historic landmark application for the property, or if one is filed in response to the raze application, the property is protected by law for 90 days to allow HPRB time to determine whether the property meets the landmark designation criteria. HPO holds the raze application until HPRB makes this decision. If HPRB denies the nomination, HPO clears the raze application. If HPRB designates the landmark, then HPRB considers the raze application under the historic preservation law.

Step 5: Clearance of the Application    

HPO clears the raze application by signing the DOB clearance letter and returning it to the applicant. The clearance means either the property is not subject to the preservation law, or the demolition has been authorized under the preservation law.

HPO notifies the raze permit applicant once the HPO clearance letter is signed. Cleared applications may be emailed as PDF documents to applicants.

For more information