Design Review Applications

Once a site or district is designated historic by the City Council, all applications for proposed construction, demolition, and exterior alterations must be reviewed by Saint Paul's Heritage Preservation staff and/or the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) to ensure that it meets established design review guidelines.

This page provides information and links to applications and resources needed to complete the design review process and step-by-step instructions to ensure a complete application.

If you have questions that cannot be answered with the information below, please contact AskHPC@ci.stpaul.mn.us and Heritage Preservation staff will assist you.

Pre-Application Process

Planning Your Project

Heritage Preservation staff are available to discuss prospective projects and applicable design review guidelines with building owners and contractors. It is advisable to get as much information as possible while the project is in early planning stages.

For large or complicated projects such as adaptive re-use, a substantial expansion of a historic building, or new construction projects a pre-application review by the Heritage Preservation Commission is recommended. The purpose of a pre-application review is to provide discussion on projects submitted for review by the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) early in the design process, in order to provide feedback to the applicant and architect. The discussion is focused on developing a project that will comply with the applicable local design review guidelines that are based on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (SOI). 

Scheduling a Pre-Application Review

Pre-application reviews are held during Heritage Preservation Commission business meetings which generally fall on the second Thursday of every month at 5 p.m. A completed pre-application form with required materials must be submitted 21 days prior to the meeting date. Upon receipt of the form and materials, Heritage Preservation staff will determine the completeness of the submittal. If the submittal is not complete the materials will be returned to the applicant along with an explanation of the incomplete nature of the submittal. If the submittal is complete the review will be scheduled for the next business meeting. Business meeting agendas are posted at least five days prior to the meeting date on the Heritage Preservation Commission's website.

Completing a Pre-Application Form

A pre-application form must be completed in addition to the following:

  • One set of conceptual level drawings plus 15 sets reduced to 11” x 17” that include:
    • Complete elevations
    • Plans (floor plan and site plan)
    • Indication of materials and dimensions
  • Photographs of all exterior elevations, and site conditions. Digital images may also be emailed or submitted on a CD-ROM (No Polaroid photos).
  • While not always required, a modeling study of a block where new construction is being proposed has proven to be beneficial to the Heritage Preservation Commission’s (HPC) review. 

A completed pre-application form and accompanying materials should be submitted to:

Heritage Preservation Commission
Department of Planning and Economic Development
25 Fourth Street West, Suite 1400
Saint Paul, MN 55102

Heritage Preservation Meeting Format

Typically, the Heritage Preservation Commission allows for 20-30 minutes for review of each project. The informal review format is as follows:

  • Heritage Preservation staff will make a brief presentation (5 minutes) identifying issues that should be addressed by the Heritage Preservation Commission.
  • The applicant will make a brief presentation (5 minutes) describing the historic preservation design considerations pertaining to the project scope.
  • The Heritage Preservation Commission will discuss the project and consider whether the project is consistent with the applicable design review guidelines and the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties (SOI)SOI. While committee members may discuss the appropriateness of a design approach in addressing the guidelines or SOI, their role is not to design the project. Given the nature of some large rehabilitation projects, the Heritage Preservation Commission may suggest that the applicant retain a preservation architect.
  • At the end of the review, the Heritage Preservation Commission chair will summarize the issues that were identified, the position of the committee members, and list all recommendations for revisions. The summary includes majority as well as minority or split opinions. The summary should cite all applicable design guidelines and standards.

It is assumed that one pre-application review will take place prior to a project being submitted for a Heritage Preservation Commission public hearing. On certain occasions, the Heritage Preservation Commission may recommend that an additional pre-application review takes place. If another pre-application review is scheduled, then neighboring property owners may be notified of the review within at least 350 feet from the project site. Although the Heritage Preservation staff works to provide comments that will result in a project that will be recommended for approval by the Heritage Preservation Commission, the discussion is preliminary and cannot predict the final recommendation of staff, public comment, and the decision of the full Heritage Preservation Commission during the public hearing.

Although Heritage Preservation staff works to provide comments that will result in a project that will be recommended for approval by the Heritage Preservation Commission, the discussion is preliminary and cannot predict the final recommendation of staff, public comment, and the decision of the full Heritage Preservation Commission during the public hearing.

Questions?

All questions regarding the pre-application review process should be directed to Heritage Preservation staff at 651-266-9078 or AskHPC@ci.stpaul.mn.us.