Recommended changes for Historic Landmarks

3-story large red brick building with curved windows on top floor and green doors and awnings on ground level
Historic Landmarks are individual properties designated for their historic significance by the City or National Park Service. This page provides a summary of the primary HRCP recommendations that would apply to Historic Landmarks.
On this page

Demolition of City-designated Historic Landmarks

Yellow crane demolishing a brick building with stained glass windows
Demolition review would be required to raze locally designated historic landmarks. Photo courtesy Scott Tice.

Most of Portland’s Historic Landmarks are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and are subject to Type IV (City Council) demolition review. Demolition review is a land use procedure that requires City approval before a historic resource can be demolished.

Some of Portland’s Historic Landmarks (approximately 10%) are not listed in the National Register of Historic Places and are therefore subject to 120-day demolition delay and not demolition review. The recommended changes would apply Type IV demolition review to City-designated Historic Landmarks to ensure consistent protection of all Historic Landmarks.

Changes to historic resource review

3 men wearing hard hats in front of a historic building up on blocks
Minor amendments are proposed to the exemptions, procedures, and approval criteria for historic resource review that apply to Historic Landmarks. Photo: Erin Riddle.

Alterations to Historic Landmarks, such as replacing a window or adding a penthouse, are subject to a discretionary review known as historic resource review. The recommended amendments include changes to the procedure types, approval criteria and exemptions to historic resource review. Recommended changes to procedure types are intended to better align application fees and timelines with the scale of the proposed alterations. Recommended changes to the criteria used in reviewing alteration, addition and new construction proposals are intended to provide increased clarity and options for applicants. Recommended new exemptions are intended to allow for certain minor alterations, such as small signs and outlets, to proceed without review.

Increased allowances for adaptive reuse

Washington High School building at twilight
Allowing uses not otherwise permitted by zoning can provide economically competitive opportunities to repurpose historic resources to meet the changing needs of Portlanders. Photo: Sally Painter.

Many Historic Landmarks have the potential to be adapted to new and creative uses without harming significant historic features. Allowing for the reuse of historic resources provides economically viable options for rehabilitation, increases public access to historic places and provides opportunities for interpreting the past through the lens of contemporary values. The recommended changes would allow certain Historic Landmarks to be used in ways not otherwise allowed by zoning, such as retail and office uses in residential zones, while mitigating offsite impacts. Additionally, requirements for providing on-site parking would be removed.

New rules for building relocation

Historic building on trailer pulled by large truck
While moving Historic Landmarks is rare, the proposed amendments establish new procedures and approval criteria for relocation. Photo: Erin Riddle.

New provisions, which are absent today, are recommended to allow Historic Landmarks to be relocated, subject to review and approval by the Historic Landmarks Commission.

Added clarity on Landmark boundaries

Large yellow house on a hillside with two sets of stairs going up to it
Many historic resources include more than just a building. An example is the 1926 Clarissa Inman house and garden that is significant for its association with the inventor of the electric curling iron.

Recommended changes would clearly identify the boundaries of Historic Landmark properties on the Official Zoning Map, making them more evident to researchers, property owners and prospective buyers.

New resource type for landmarks federally listed since 2017

Red brick large building with white covered entryway and stairs
The German Baptist Old People’s Home is an example of a resource nominated to the National Register since the 2017 change in State Administrative Rule. Photo: Sally Painter.

The Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission adopted new Administrative Rules in January 2017 pertaining to the protection of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Properties listed in the National Register after January 2017 are recommended to be renamed as National Register Landmarks, to be consistent with the State Rules.These National Register Landmarks would be subject to demolition review, but not historic resource review. Unlike Historic Landmarks, National Register Landmarks would be subject to a Type III (Historic Landmarks Commission) procedure for demolition review.

Learn More and Testify