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Review Process in Shipstead-Luce Areas

The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), and Historic Preservation Office (HPO) all review projects in historic areas covered by the Shipstead-Luce Act of 1930.

The purpose of Shipstead-Luce review is to protect the public interest in orderly and appropriate private development adjacent to public buildings and parks. The somewhat different purpose of historic preservation review is to ensure that work on historic buildings and in historic districts is compatible with their historic character.

Since Shipstead-Luce requirements predate the DC historic preservation law, the preservation law establishes a protocol to avoid unnecessary duplicate reviews. In areas subject to both laws, the Mayor must refer project applications to CFA, and may also refer them HPRB.

What Shipstead-Luce cases do HPRB and HPO also review?

HPRB and HPO routinely review all projects in historic districts adjacent to Rock Creek Park, the National Zoo, or Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, even if Shipstead-Luce review is required. This includes portions of the Georgetown, Kalorama Triangle, Massachusetts Avenue, Mount Pleasant, Sheridan-Kalorama, and Woodley Park historic districts. The reason for the two separate reviews is that CFA’s responsibility is to ensure compatibility with the public parks, whereas HPRB’s and HPO’s responsibility is to ensure compatibility with the historic districts.

The same general rule applies to projects involving historic landmarks along the Southwest Waterfront. Along Pennsylvania Avenue and around Lafayette Square and the National Mall, however, there is a case-by-case determination whether a separate preservation review is required. If so, HPRB reviews major projects and HPO reviews minor work under delegated authority. CFA review is still required, even for minor work.

What about Shipstead-Luce cases in non-historic areas?

HPO assists CFA in Shipstead-Luce cases by managing the intake and transmittal of applications to CFA, as well as the processing of applications after CFA review. HPO and HPRB do not have jurisdiction over Shipstead-Luce cases in non-historic areas.

What happens if CFA and HPRB or HPO make different recommendations?

The Mayor’s Agent resolves differing recommendations, either through the public hearing process under the DC preservation law, or the Shipstead-Luce directive for the Mayor to ensure reasonable compliance with CFA recommendations by taking actions the Mayor deems appropriate.

What about subdividing property?

CFA does not review property subdivisions. HPRB and HPO review subdivisions for historic property in Shipstead-Luce areas.