• City of Tacoma QA
  • City of Tacoma Data

Proposed College Park Historic District

Proposed College Park Historic District



On May 3, 2021, the City received a written request and petition to create a new local historic overlay zone in the "College Park" neighborhood adjacent to the University of Puget Sound Campus.  The area proposed for the historic overlay zone forms an inverted L shape, bordering the north and east edges of the UPS campus along N 18th and N Alder Streets respectively, with N 21st Street forming the northern boundary, Pine Street forming the eastern boundary, with N 8th Street at the southernmost edge, and N Union forming the western edge (please see map below). 


The proposed area is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the College Park Historic District, which was designated by the National Park Service 2017. 


Proposed District Boundaries




It includes 582 primary buildings, 509 of which are contributing properties. Architectural types include Queen Anne; Colonial and Tudor revivals, Minimal Traditional, and Craftsman. The period of significance is 1890 to 1960, during which most of the homes were built. The district represents the broad pattern of social and economic history of Tacoma. College Park also embodies the distinctive characteristics of homes from this period and includes the work of master craftsmen and architects.


College Park




College Park local historic district request 

College Park National Register Historic District Nomination

Public Information Session 8/11/21 presentation

Landmarks Preservation Commission response to Home In Tacoma


Review Schedule (Revised as of October 13, 2021)

The intent of this schedule is to consider distinct aspects of the district request individually, and to allow adequate time for public comment.  To view past and current Landmarks Commission agendas, please visit the Landmarks Commission agenda page


Date   Subject
6/23/21   Introduction of nomination request; discussion of review schedule
7/21/21   Adoption of review schedule; approve public notice of nomination 
8/11/21   Review district significance, first public information session 
8/25/21   Review proposed boundaries, buildings inventory, design guidelines 
9/8/21   Second public information session 
10/13/21   Recap of previous discussions; discussion of opinion survey; revise review schedule 
10/20/21   Release opinion survey
11/3/21   Survey response deadline
11/10/21   Discuss results of survey; discussion of preliminary recommendations
12/8/21   Discussion of preliminary recommendations 
1/12/22   Adopt preliminary recommendations; set hearing date 
2/9/22   Public Hearing (tentative)
2/23/22   Review of hearing testimony; discussion of issues and observations
3/9/22   Discuss findings and recommendations 
3/23/22   Adopt Findings and Recommendations


How to Participate 

In addition to formal Public Hearings at the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Planning Commission and City Council, the Commission has held two Public Information Sessions for property owners and Tacoma residents to ask questions.  These occurred on August 11 and September 8, 2021 (the staff presentation for those sessions is linked above).


The Commission meets every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at 5:30 PM.  Currently, Commission meetings are being conducted virtually.  To view Commission agendas, review documents, and meeting records, please visit the Landmarks Commission agenda page.


Interested residents can also request to be added to the College Park Historic District email list by sending a request to landmarks@cityoftacoma.org (please include College Park in the subject line).


Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions 


What is a Local Historic District?

Historic districts are areas of the city that have been added to the Tacoma Register of Historic Places because they possess a special character, historic  development patterns, or represent an the built environment during a specific period of time. The purpose of local historic districts is to encourage the preservation of architectural and cultural character within established neighborhoods and districts, and to protect such areas from adverse effects of unsympathetic development activities, as well as to promote economic development and neighborhood identity. They are intended to guide change and preserve community character as an area grows and evolves over time.

Local historic districts differ from National Register Historic Districts and Washington State Heritage Register Districts in that local historic districts require historic approval for development activities within the district, whereas National and State districts do not.  

Tacoma has nine historic districts, four of which are listed on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places. These include the Wedge Neighborhood, North Slope, Old City Hall, and Union Depot/Warehouse Historic Districts. Each district has its own set of guidelines that inform the design review of rehabilitation projects, new development, and public amenities within their districts. 

The Stadium/Seminary, Salmon Beach, South J Street, and Buckley’s Addition Historic Districts are listed on the state and/or National Registers. Development activities within these districts are generally unaffected by the historic listing. 

Learn more about Tacoma’s historic districts here.


What is the Historic District Designation Process?

Local historic districts are listed on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places through a nomination process. The Landmarks Preservation Commission reviews the nomination for historic significance and makes a recommendation to the Planning Commission, which then reviews the proposal for compatibility with the City’s land use policies.  Following its review, the Planning Commission may recommend that the City Council create a new overlay historic zoning district.

At each step, there are opportunities to provide written or oral comments at Public Hearings.


How does a Historic Special Review District work?

Historic districts are adopted by City Council as overlay zones, meaning that the regulations of the historic district are added “on top of” the existing land use zoning. In general, historic districts use a design review process and their own design guidelines for proposed remodeling projects.  Historic Special Review Districts do not regulate use – including types and intensity of uses allowable under zoning.

How does being in a Historic District affect my property?

In general, new construction and projects affecting the exteriors of existing historic homes within the boundaries of a local Historic Special Review District require the review and approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission prior to the issuance of permits.  In addition, demolition of historic properties is highly discouraged.


The Landmarks Commission reviews projects at its meetings twice monthly.  For minor projects, there is an expedited administrative review process.


In certain cases, substantial remodeling projects that are historically compatible with the character of the building may qualify for property tax incentives.



What requires review?

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is required to review certain permitting projects for historic compatibility and compliance with standards for historic treatment. They review projects according to of the applicable standards, which include design guidelines for historic districts.

In general, any exterior work on City Landmarks or contributing properties that is visible from public rights of way requires design review.  In residential historic districts, such as the North Slope Historic District, exterior work that is exempt from building permit requirements is also exempt from historic review, as is interior remodeling and private landscaping. 

Learn more about design review here.

What are the guidelines?

Each district has their own set of guideline that are used as the basis for design review for permitting projects within a district. The guidelines are intended to ensure a certainty of design quality within each district.

While each district’s guidelines are different, at a minimum they address height, scale, massing, exterior cladding and materials, building form and shape, roof shape, fenestration patterns and window materials, architectural details, storefronts (within commercial areas), awnings and signs, additions, parking, main entrances, rhythm of openings, accessory structures, mechanical equipment, streetscape and sustainable design. 

Occasionally, but not more than once per year, the Commission may recommend changes to the guidelines.  When changes are proposed, there is opportunity for public feedback before any decisions are made.  Most commonly, the guidelines are changed to accommodate new codes, to correct errors, or to address emerging topics (such as solar panel installation).


Are all buildings within a local historic district considered historic? What are “contributing” and “noncontributing” buildings?
Within the boundaries of a historic district, properties are categorized by whether or not they possess qualities that give the district its historic or architectural significance.  These properties are considered either “contributing,” if they reflect the significance of the district as a whole because of their historic associations, historic architectural qualities or archaeological features; or “noncontributing,” if they are located within the boundaries of the district but were constructed outside of the time period for which the district is considered historic or are period buildings that have been altered to the point that the historical integrity is lost. 
Will I be able to make any changes to my house?
Yes! Historic preservation policy recognizes that in order for historic buildings to remain a vital part of contemporary life, they must be allowed to adapt and change. The assertion that historic districts prevent any changes is a myth – additions and remodeling are common and the Commission approves dozens of projects per year.  However, project proposals should be consistent with the guidelines for the district in order to be approved. 
Do I need historic permission to remodel the inside of my house?
No! Interior alterations to existing properties are exempt from review, unless those modifications affect the exterior appearance of the property.
Can I build an addition?
Yes, if it meets the design guidelines. Additions to existing homes in the historic districts are not discouraged. 
Can I build a detached accessory dwelling unit (DADU)?
Yes, if the underlying zoning allows DADUs.  The guidelines for the North Slope and Wedge Neighborhood Historic Districts treat DADUs as accessory structures, which means that generally they should follow the development pattern set by historic detached garages (set towards rear of lot, sympathetic material palette and compatible scale).  The Commission has approved both new DADUs and garage-conversion DADUs within historic districts.
Can I change my windows? 
Applications to replace windows are common.  The guidelines for the Wedge and North Slope encourage the preservation of existing original wood windows that are in good repair, and recommends repair of historic windows before replacement.  Non-historic windows that were installed in homes prior to the creation of the historic district do not need to be upgraded, and if replaced, can be replaced in-kind.  For failed historic windows, the guidelines recommend windows that are, or appear to be, wood windows.  There are many product lines of clad windows that meet this requirement.

Thermal efficiency is another common reason cited for window replacement.  Due to the low return on investment, in terms of energy savings, of window replacement, it is recommended that other house systems such as furnaces, insulation and appliances and fixtures be upgraded before windows.  Window performance can also be dramatically improved with storm sashes.
Do I need historic approval for paint colors?
Do fences need historic approval?
The building code allows construction of fences up to 7’ high without a permit, so unless your fence is higher than 7’, historic review is not needed.
Can I demolish my old garage?

Probably, if the garage is in poor condition or not sufficient for modern needs.  Removal and replacement of garages is a common request in historic districts.  The code and guidelines emphasize primary structures in the district and place a lower priority on the preservation of accessory structures.


Are solar panels, air conditioning units or heat pumps permitted?
Yes, however the Commission generally encourages the location of compressor units in less visible areas (such as side yards, towards the rear of the property, or in back yards.  For solar installations, while practical requirements such as solar aspect can dictate location, the Commission also encourages applicants to design the installation in a manner that minimizes visual impact as much as possible.
If a district is established, will I need to restore my home to its original/historic form?
No.  Owners do not have to rehabilitate their building or reverse any previous work following the establishment of a historic district.
Can new buildings be constructed in a local historic district?
Yes, new construction is allowed, if the design meets the design guidelines. 
Can a building in a local historic district be demolished?
Buildings classified as noncontributing structures may be demolished if there is an approved replacement structure.  The City strongly discourages the demolition of contributing structures, however, and the burden of demonstrating that there is no alternative is on the applicant.  Demolition of historic buildings also requires a public hearing. 
Will this prohibit apartments/duplexes/triplexes?
No.  The historic district does not regulate use, so if the design of a new building meets the design guidelines in terms of massing, scale, materials, and so forth, then it will be approved regardless of the number of units.
Will this make my property value go up/down?
There have been numerous studies of this question.  Generally, it is expected that homes within historic districts appreciate at the same rate or slightly faster than homes in comparable neighborhoods that are not historic districts. 
Are there costs associated with establishing a historic district?
There is no specific fee associated with the creation of a historic district.
Are there costs associated with the permitting and review process
Yes. There are fees associated with design review in addition to the normal permitting fees for obtaining a building permit.  The fee varies according to project value, but the minimum fee is $175 and the maximum for residential projects is $500.
Learn more about design review and permitting fees here.
Can a property owner opt out of the district?
All properties within an historic overlay zone adopted by council are subject to the requirements of the district.  
How Can I Get More Information or Comment?
To ask questions about this process and to provide feedback, please email landmarks@cityoftacoma.org.  There will also be a formal opportunity to comment at a public hearing this winter – keep an eye on your mail for the notice or send a request to the email address above to be added to our College Park Historic District email list.





If you have general comments or questions for staff or the Landmarks Preservation Commission, please contact Reuben McKnight at:


Reuben McKnight

Historic Preservation Office

747 Market Street, Room 345

Tacoma, WA 98402

(253) 591-5220 or landmarks@cityoftacoma.org