Living in a Historic District

»Exterior Requirements and the Historic Review Process
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The West University Neighborhood is classified as both a National Register Historic District and a City of Tucson Historic Preservation Zone (HPZ). Owning a home in a historic district is an opportunity to live in an area with character and charm. Our additional designation as a Historic Preservation Zone (HPZ) entails the responsibility to help maintain the character of the area by making sure any exterior changes to your property enhance the period look of your home and surroundings. The historic review process is critical in helping to preserve the historic fabric of the West University Neighborhood. HPZ properties are also eligible for tax credits (see below). Any changes to the exterior of homes within West University must follow the guidelines set forth nationally and locally.

Exterior Requirements and the Historic Review Process – WUHZAB vs WUNA

The West University Neighborhood has both its neighborhood association (WUNA) and the West University Historic Advisory Zoning Board (WUHZAB). WUZHAB deals exclusively with changes to property and is composed of our neighbors who have been appointed by the City Council. The board is made up of one third residents, one third professionals, and one third property owners.

Small projects require only a WUHZAB review. Larger ones require both a WUHZAB and Tucson Pima County Historic Commission (TPCHC) review. If your property is H zoned, the entire property is historic and any changes to the exterior are required to go through a City of Tucson (COT) mandated historic review.

Exterior changes that must be reviewed include but are not limited to: demolitions, additions, new structures, windows, doors, roof materials, site walls, fences, gates and locations of HVAC systems, solar panels and other rooftop equipment. All four sides of a structure are considered for a review. There are items that may not require a building permit but require a historic review, such as a new wall or fence or alterations to such, replacement of windows and doors, roof replacement, awnings or mechanical equipment changes. You can learn more about these guidelines in the »WUHZAB Design Guidelines.

Here are a few wood window manufacturers that make windows that meet State and City historic guidelines: Marvin Windows, Kolbe and Kolbe, Jeld-Wen and Sierra Pacific. Neither WUNA nor WUHZAB recommends a particular brand of windows.

When planning exterior changes to your property, call Michael Taku in Planning and Development Services at 837-4963 or email Michael. Michael will let you know if you will need a WUHZAB review, and get you onto the WUHZAB agenda for review. After the WUHZAB review, a recommendation will be forwarded to TPCHC. You must have approval from both WUHZAB and TPCHC before going to the Tucson City Planning Board to request a building permit.

By consulting with these boards early in your planning, you can save time and money by learning what will be expected in your plans.

Property owners who circumvent these steps may be required by the City of Tucson Code Enforcement to tear down or modify their improvements.

Tax Credits

Because West University Neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, owners who live on their West University property may enter into an agreement with the state of Arizona to maintain it as a historic property. If an owner lives in one unit of a multi unit property, such as half of a duplex, the owner can get the historic tax credit on the half of the duplex that s/he lives in. Property taxes may be reduced by up to 45%. More information and forms are available from the State Historic Preservation Office and the City of Tucson Owners of Historic Properties or COT Preservation FAQs

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