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Frequently Asked Questions about Landmark Preservation

What's this about a real estate tax freeze for landmark/historic district home owners?

Basically, any owner of a landmark or a house in an historic district can apply for a freeze, which lasts for 8 years, with the assessed value reaching its new level over the following 4 years. See http://www.illinoishistory.gov/ps/taxfreeze.htm for detailed information on requirements for eligibility.

Does the Preservation Commission need to approve everything I want to do to my house?

There are many things, such as paint color, storm doors, and roof repairs that do not require Commission review. Please go to www.cityofevanston.org for a chart of this information.

I want to redo my windows which are leaky and not working properly. How do I go about getting approval to do this?

You will need to apply to the Commission to appear at one of its monthly meetings in order to present your application for a Certificate of Appropriateness. Certificates (COAs) are granted based on Standards for Review. Please contact the Preservation Coordinator, Carlos Ruiz, at cruiz@cityofevanston.org or by phone at 847-448-8687.

I want to put in a new kitchen. Do I need Preservation Commission approval for that?

The Commission does not review anything on the interior. You would only need its approval if you were adding or demolishing something on the exterior (bay window, mud room, porch).

Will the Preservation Commission approval process slow down my project?

It can generally be completed in a month. Applying to the Commission while working drawings are being done can speed up the process even more. NOTE: If your project needs a zoning variance, more time may be needed.

What if I have questions about my plans? Whom can I call?

Please call Carlos Ruiz at 847.448.8687 Monday - Friday.

What do I do if the Commission does not approve my plan?

Over 98% of projects are approved. Sometimes changes will be suggested, with approval contingent upon their being made. If your project is denied, you may appeal to the Evanston City Council.

I understand my house is in an historic district. What if I want to nominate it as a landmark? Can I?

Any citizen can nominate any building. Your completed nomination form (see www.cityofevanston.org/government/city-code, then sec, 2-9-5) will be reviewed by the Commission. If approved, it forwards it to the City Council for final designation.

I don't live in a single family house; I'm in a condo. Are there any tax breaks for my building?

Yes. Please go to www.illinoishistory.gov/ps/taxcredits.htm for information on Federal preservation tax credits.

Are there any federal tax deductions available to me as a landmark homeowner?

Yes. The facade easement program provides a charitable deduction to the owner and protects the exterior permanently, no matter who owns the house. Please go to www.landmarks.org/easement_overview.htm. This is the site for Landmarks Illinois, the non-profit advocacy organization that administers this program for the IRS.