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Historic Preservation

 Contact Information

Dept Head: Karen McWilliams

Program Purpose

Mission

To protect, enhance, and preserve Fort Collins' significant historical, architectural and geographical heritage in order to advance the economic, cultural and environmental qualities of the city.

Vision

The Historic Preservation Division promotes a World Class community by working collaboratively with all citizens to advance the economic, cultural and environmental qualities of the city through preserving, enhancing, and promoting Fort Collins' significant heritage and saving the places that are meaningful to our citizens. We demonstrate our commitment to our citizens' vision through predictable, transparent, and responsive processes based on best practices, while continuously striving for innovation and improvement.

Core Responsibilities

The Division

The City's preservation program began in 1968 when City Council passed Fort Collins' first preservation ordinance, establishing the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC). In 1984, the program moved under the City's Planning department with its first dedicated staff person. Since that time, Historic Preservation Services has grown to a small team in the Community Development & Neighborhood Services Department that supports historic preservation activities throughout the city, including design review on over 200 individually-designated historic properties and four historic districts. 

The Historic Preservation Services division works collaboratively with citizens, developers, and staff, participating in key community planning and development projects affecting historic and cultural resources in Fort Collins. New construction, and the alteration or demolition of existing buildings, is reviewed for its effect on neighborhood and community character. Good design and rehabilitation of historic homes and businesses is encouraged through a large number of financial incentive programs available to citizens

Karen McWilliams - Historic Preservation Division Manager

Karen McWilliams - Historic Preservation Division Manager
 

Karen McWilliams holds a Master’s Degree of Historic Preservation and an undergraduate degree in Anthropology, with certifications in Archeology and Asian Studies. Her first job was to research Bent’s Old Fort for the National Park Service, listing it in the National Register of Historic Places. An abiding interest in sustainable building practices and in preserving the history of the working class fuels her passion.

Maren Bzdek - Senior Historic Preservation Planner

Maren Bzdek - Senior Historic Preservation Planner
 

Maren works with development applicants to create compatible urban infill, contributes to long-range planning that maintains our unique sense of place, and collaborates with her team members and the community to advance progressive preservation policies, with a particular emphasis on sustainability. She holds an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies/Geology and an M.A. in History and has worked in the fields of historic preservation and environmental history for fifteen years. She previously worked on historic preservation contracts for the National Park Service and other federal agencies as the Program Manager for CSU’s Public Lands History Center.

Jim Bertolini - Historic Preservation Planner

Jim Bertolini - Historic Preservation Planner
 

Jim is passionate about exploring the relationship between historic preservation and sustainable communities. He holds both an undergraduate and graduate degree in History from Colorado State University, specializing in public history and historic preservation. Prior to working for the City of Fort Collins, he worked for the National Park Service, as the Historic Preservation Specialist for Aurora, Colorado, and on community-focused and research programs with the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office in Carson City. 

Sherry Albertson-Clark - Historic Preservation Planner (Survey)

Sherry Albertson-Clark - Historic Preservation Planner (Survey)
 

Sherry holds a master’s degree and has over 30 years’ experience in planning and historic preservation in the Fort Collins area.  She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and was the City’s first Historic Preservation Planner, serving in that capacity before becoming the City’s Chief Planner and later, Planning Manager.  She also ran a successful consulting business specializing in historic preservation, public engagement, and urban planning.

Landmark Preservation Commission

Staff at the City work diligently with members of the Landmark Preservation Commission, a body of community members and specialists appointed by City Council to oversee the City's historic preservation program. Members bring both passion and unique skills and expertise related to historic buildings and how to take care of them. Below are a list of current members and their position/specialization:

Meg Dunn - LPC Chair

Meg Dunn - LPC Chair
 

Specialty: local history, education

Meg enjoys researching and writing. She authors two websites: NorthernColoradoHistory.com and UrbanFortCollins.com. The first deals with local history and the second focuses more on issues of urban development and growth. Meg is on the board of the Fort Collins Historical society, is a founding member of the Northern Colorado Heritage Alliance and publishes a monthly list of local history & heritage events in a newsletter entitled History Now. She is also on the board of Historic Larimer County, a regional historic preservation advocacy organization.

APPLICATION

Mike Bello

Mike Bello
 

Specialty: real estate, construction, landscape architecture

The population growth in the City has caused pressure on the retention of historic places in lieu of replacing them with higher density developments to meet the communities housing needs. As a professional in the real estate construction and development field, I’m interested in finding options that can both provide additional housing and preserve our historic places. I’m excited about the work we do to preserve the history of our built environment while allowing new development to co-exist. I believe that is in the best interest of our community.

APPLICATION

Alexandra Wallace

Alexandra Wallace
 

Specialty: history, historic preservation

I am a Fort Collins native (yes, there’s a few of us around!) and work as a historic preservation specialist with the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands at CSU. I’ve seen so many changes to the built environment in Fort Collins and being part of the commission allows me to be part of shaping the city’s future growth while preserving important aspects of its history.

 APPLICATION

LPC Membership

Program History

Since its beginning, Fort Collins' historic preservation program has had a holistic focus, aiming to preserve important reflections of history and culture, but also promote economic development through the adaptive reuse of historic buildings. Critical to the City's revitalization efforts was the designation of the Old Town Historic District in the National Register in 1978 followed by the creation of a smaller City Historic District in 1979, the first in the state. The result is one of the most vibrant, successful historic downtowns in the country. The Laurel School National Register Historic District, containing over 600 properties, was listed in the National Register in 1980. Sheely Drive Landmark District, listed by City Council in 2000, encompasses 11 properties, and is the first 1950s-era local landmark residential district designated in Colorado. Whitcomb Street Landmark District, designated by City Council in 2013, encompasses 14 properties, which together form a cohesive unit historically, architecturally, and developmentally.

In 1991, the City became a Certified Local Government (CLG), a federal designation from the National Park Service for meeting certain requirements for a local historic preservation program. CLG status allows the City of Fort Collins enhanced participation in state and federal preservation programs, such as stronger participation in the review of federal (or federally-supported) projects within city limits, access to a dedicated pool of federal grant funds. Status as a CLG also qualifies buildings designated as historic by City Council for Colorado's historic preservation tax credit program.

In 1994, the City adopted the Historic Resources Preservation Program Plan (HRPPP), which captures the city's mission, "to enhance the quality of life in Fort Collins by the preservation of historic resources and the inclusion of heritage in the daily life and development of the city and the community." The Demo/Alt Review Process was adopted in 1994. Due to the combined positive effect of the LPC Design Review Subcommittee, the Design Assistance Program, and other financial incentives, virtually all were resolved without the need to continue to a LPC Hearing.

Since the adoption of the HRPPP, the program has had two comprehensive reviews. First, Winter and Company completed the Historic Preservation Program Assessment and Implementation Plan in 2010. Between 2012 and 2014, Historic Preservation staff undertook a comprehensive evaluation of the City's Historic Preservation Program to enhance its transparency, predictability, and effectiveness. The Historic Preservation Improvement Plan resulted in a set of code changes that City Council approved in April 2019.

Historic Preservation Services has undertaken the writing and managing of over 70 historic preservation grants, translating into over $21,000,000.00 in direct and indirect revenue for preservation in the City. Staff efforts have resulted in tremendous national, state and local recognition for Fort Collins, including the city's status as a "Preserve America Community" by the White House; as a Take Pride in America Community; as the recipient of three Governor's Awards for Downtown Excellence, four State Honor Awards for historic preservation, and Fort Collins' recent selection as a Dozen Distinctive Destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Historic Resources Preservation Program Plan (1994)

The City's first comprehensive plan for historic preservation, covering goals across all preservation activities, from identification and preservation of City Landmarks to education needs to help Fort Collins residents take care of their historic property. 

Read the Plan

Historic Preservation Program Assessment (2010)

An assessment of the operations of the Fort Collins historic preservation program to improve effectiveness and public benefit. 

Read the Report

City Plan

Historic preservation is an integral part to the City of Fort Collins' vision moving forward to achieve the community's goals of "triple bottom line" sustainability, environmentally, socially, and economically. There are preservation-minded goals and strategies throughout the plan, but Principle LIV 10, under Neighborhood Livability and Social Health discusses historic preservation in more depth. 

Read the Plan