Home Improvement and business development initiatives that focus on the restoration of historic structures in the commercial and residential sectors of Mount Vernon have been the catalyst for regeneration. Over the past several years, the neighborhood has witnessed unprecedented growth in its residential sector due in part to the City's and State's progressive historic tax credit programs, which have generated an unprecedented increase in the neighborhood's home ownership rate.
Mount Vernon's commercial market has also taken advantage of these tax credit incentives to stimulate growth along Charles Street, the neighborhood's main street. Underutilized buildings haven been restored into vibrant mixed-use structures with street level retail and residential units on the floors above.
The Mount Vernon neighborhood is a Baltimore City Historic District and is governed by the 2005 Mount Vernon Urban Renewal Plan. Mount Vernon was the City's first historic district, and is undeniably Baltimore's most historic, not only for the built environment, but also for the many important figures that have resided in the neighborhood.
To safeguard the architectural significance of this area, Baltimore City's Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation (CHAP) has established guidelines governing all substantive changes to the exterior of existing structures in the district, as well as created guidelines for new construction. Both types of work must go through the CHAP process, as outlined below, before work commences.
Implementation and Process for Rehabilitation of Historic Structures in Mount Vernon
Proposed Alterations to Existing Structures:
All intended exterior changes that modify either the color or form of an historic structure in any way must be approved by both the MVBA Architectural Review Committee (email@example.com) and CHAP before any work begins. Residential and commercial property owners are encouraged to contact CHAP for their "Historic Preservation Guidelines" brochure to become familiar with the types of renovation initiatives the guidelines govern. The brochure is also available online here.
CHAP's "Historic Preservation Guidelines" addresses alterations such as:
CHAP's guidelines also regulate other items such as:
Failure to comply with these procedures can result in fines from the City of up to $1,000 per day and can result in a legal order to return the property to its previous state. Property owners are legally responsible for changes made by tenants.
All new construction (other than additions to existing structures) in Mount Vernon is guided by the 2006 Revision 2 Mount Vernon Urban Renewal Plan. An integral component of this plan is the height limits governing the construction of new buildings in the district, click here to view height map. In addition, CHAP created the Mount Vernon: Guidelines for New Construction to shape the development of planned new construction By addressing issues of context and scale, and the use of materials, these guidelines offer residents and developers a roadmap to follow in planning for new construction in the area, and are the basis by which projects are judged as appropriate for the district by the MVBA Architectural Review Committee (ARC) and CHAP.
The CHAP Process:
Restoration and Repair Work:
For minor work, such as cleaning, painting, repairing or replacing existing elements, including windows, one should contact MVBA's Architectural Review Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org with your address in the subject line) with the following materials:
Upon approval by the MVBA's Architectural Review Committee, the CHAP Notice-to-Proceed form will be returned to the owner who takes the signed form to CHAP for their approval process. This aspect of the approval process can be accomplished in approximately a half day visit to CHAP and the Office of Building Permits (410-396-3360 located at 417 East Fayette Street), but one should call CHAP first to ensure that someone will be present to approve the forms. The appropriate permit fees are paid at this time.
Major Renovations/Additions and New Construction:
For proposed renovations or additions beyond what is stated above or for new construction one should contact the chair of MVBA's Architectural Review Committee (ARC) at email@example.com (with your address in the subject line). Often, such major projects initially seek conceptual project approval, after which (based on feedback from the MVBA ARC and CHAP) the project returns for final approval.
Projects of this scope will be required to present the proposed project in person to the MVBA Architectural Review Committee, which meets on the last Tuesday of every month. These projects take longer for CHAP to approve, and are typically placed before the entire CHAP commission, which meets once a month (several weeks after the MVBA ARC meeting). This process takes time and property owners should plan accordingly.
To present a project for conceptual approval the owner/developer/ architect should provide the following items:
After review of the proposed plans, a letter will be sent to the owner either approving the plans as submitted, or suggesting changes that would make the plan acceptable. The MVBA Architectural Review Committee (ARC) will also submit its comments to CHAP. Upon ARC's conceptual approval, the project is then able to go through CHAP's conceptual review process.
After taking into consideration the recommendations of the MVBA ARC and CHAP, the project may be submitted again for final design approval.
To present a project for final design approval, the owner/developer/ architect should provide the following items:
Upon ARC's approval, a completed Notice-to-Proceed is returned to the owner for submittal to CHAP. If necessary, the project will be placed before the CHAP commission for final approval, and the appropriate permit fees paid.
Protection of Contributing Structures in the Mount Vernon Historic District:
The designation of Mount Vernon as a CHAP historic district protects the contributing structures in the district from demolition. This protection is further increased by the new Mount Vernon Urban Renewal Plan, which provides strong disincentives for demolition.
Please note that the proposed demolition of any part of a “Contributing Structure" in the Mount Vernon Historic District requires a Demolition Review process separate from any consideration of a proposed design for a portion of a site.
MVBA's Architectural Review Committee
For General questions or to schedule an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org
(410) 396-PLAN (7526)
Midtown Development Corporation
Baltimore City Office of Permits
Baltimore Municipal Zoning and Appeals
The Baltimore City Department of Planning
State's Division of Neighborhood Revitalization