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Historic Preservation Grant Standards

City of Adel Historic Preservation Grant for Historic Downtown Courthouse Square District

Adel’s Courthouse Square District (ACSD) is comprised of buildings dating from 1868 through the mid-twentieth century. These architecturally and historically significant buildings, along with the brick streets, contribute to the unique ambiance of Adel. To preserve the historical significance and retain and promote a retail presence on the square, the City of Adel and Adel’s Historic Preservation Commission has committed funds from Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for qualifying interior and exterior renovation and new construction within the ACSD area.

The Historic Preservation Grant Program (HPGP) has been developed to provide monetary incentives to businesses and property owners to preserve the historical attributes and functionality as long as the enhancements do not detract from the historical significance of the building. Any improvements must comply with the design guidelines adopted for the ACSD and all applicable building codes. The City appropriates limited funds from Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to support this program.

An applicant may receive grant assistance of 50% of the project costs, up to a maximum of $5,000.00 for interior capital improvements and renovations of existing structures. The improvements must comply with the Design Guidelines for the ACSD and meet American’s with Disabilities Act guidelines if the renovation threshold meets said requirements. No funds will be authorized for in-kind labor.

An applicant may receive grant assistance of 100% of the project costs, up to a maximum of $10,000.00 for exterior improvements on both old and new structures. The improvements must comply with the Design Guidelines for the ACSD. No funds will be authorized for in-kind labor.

Please Note: Since this is a grant reimbursement program but not an official City project (i.e., the City is not engaging the contractor; the City is not procuring bids for the work or materials; the building is not City-owned, etc.), the City’s tax exemption certificate is not available.

Application Process

Application forms are available at City Hall. The application form may be downloaded or can be submitted online using our grant application page.

Prior to beginning the application process, prospective applicants must meet with the City Administrator to discuss the project and determine if it is eligible to proceed. The completed application form must be submitted to the City Administrator, who will forward it to the five (5) member Adel Historic Preservation Commission (AHPC) along with any comments for consideration.

For interior and exterior improvements, the application shall be accompanied by support materials, which include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Design and scope of work
  2. Architectural drawings of the proposed alteration
  3. Site plan and building elevation drawn to scale if required
  4. Current photographs of the building
  5. Historic photographs of the building
  6. Product specifications including colors and materials to be used
  7. Projected cost estimates
  8. Any other information requested by the City, its staff, boards, or commissions.

The AHPC will review the application and supplemental material at a regularly scheduled and properly noticed meeting. The AHPC will make a recommendation to the City’s Economic Development Committee (EDC) I City Council.

The AHPC shall either recommend that the application be approved as submitted, denied, or approved with conditions. Recommendation of the project requires an affirmative vote of at least three (3) members of the AHPC.

Any person affected by the decision may file a written appeal to the City Council within 15 days after the date the AHPC’s findings are published.

The City Council shall make the final decision regarding what monetary assistance may be provided based on the overall project, recommendations from the AHPC and EDC, and available funds. All projects must obtain building permits if applicable and all work must conform to applicable building codes.

City of Adel Courthouse Square Historic District Design Standards

(a) Purpose.
( 1) The purpose of the Adel Courthouse Square Historic District (ACSD) design standards is to guide the design of building construction, development, alteration, and renovation in the Adel Courthouse Square Historic District (“District”) to ensure that, through the appropriate use of facades, windows, building orientation, and architectural details, new structures, existing structures, and alterations to existing structures are physically and visually compatible with other buildings within the District and most importantly retain the historical significance and architecture of the buildings.

Many buildings in the District reflect architectural styles that were popular during the late nineteenth century and early to midtwentieth century. It is the desire of the City to have buildings conform to architectural styles of this era, similar complimentary styles, or the German or eastern European architectural styles of that era.

(2) These standards are intended to encourage good quality design in new building construction, enhance street safety, and provide a comfortable street environment by providing features of interest to pedestrians. Good design results in buildings that are in visual harmony with nearby buildings, leading to a District that is attractive, safe, and vibrant and preserves its historical significance.

These qualities, in turn, contribute to the creation of a District core which facilitates easy pedestrian movement and establishment of a rich mixture of uses.

In addition to these standards, the provisions of this Code contain mandatory guidelines on supplementary design features such as signage, lighting, color, windows, etc.

(3) Design guidelines have been upheld by the courts as an exercise of the power of cities to regulate for the general welfare and are considered a form of zoning. Many cities have ordinances requiring design review in conjunction with their design guidelines. Such mandatory design review has many legal requirements that exceed the resources of a small community.

As such, Adel has chosen to use a voluntary design review process and seeks to obtain conformity through encouragement and grant incentives. If an applicant chooses to participate in the financial incentives program, then guidelines contained herein must be adhered to.

(b) Preservation Goals.

The City of Adel has identified the following goals of historic preservation and District design guidelines (Chapter 25 Code of Ordinances, Adel, Iowa):

(1) Promote the educational, cultural, economic and general welfare of the public through the recognition, enhancement, and perpetuation of districts and sites of historical and cultural significances.

(2) Safeguard the City’s historic, aesthetic and cultural heritage by preserving districts and sites of historical architectural and cultural significance.

(3) Stabilize and improve property values.

(4) Foster pride in the legacy of beauty and achievements of the past.

(5) Protect and enhance the attractiveness of the City to tourists and visitors and the support and stimulus to businesses thereby provided.

(6) Strengthen the economy of the City.

(7) Promote the use of districts and sites of historical and cultural significance as sites for the education, pleasure, and welfare of the citizens.

(8) Preserve the features that define the individuality of the building.

(c) Voluntary Review Procedures. The applicant shall submit the following items for design review unless directed otherwise:

( l) Elevations. Complete exterior elevations of all proposed or existing buildings or additions. Elevations should be drawn at an appropriate scale (usually W’= 1 ‘) and should include:

a. All signs and/or awnings to be mounted on the building(s).

b. Designation of materials and colors to be used on all exterior facades.

c. Elevations of adjacent buildings to compare height and scale.

(2) Materials Sample. Material samples shall be presented, including color and material type of walls and roof.

(3) Color Samples. Exact sample matches of all principal and secondary exterior colors to be used, including signage and/or awning(s).

(4) Context. Photographs of surrounding building on the same street or area to address issues of context, including any models, if available.

(d) Design Guidelines.

(1) Pedestrian Accessibility. Special attention shall be given to designing a primary building entrance which is both attractive and functional and preserves the historical integrity of the building. Building entrances must be architecturally emphasized and visible from the street.

(2) Compatibility with Existing Downtown Businesses.

a. The size and shape of the proposed construction, alteration, or renovation shall be comparable with the size and shape of nearby historic buildings and preserve the architectural style of your building.

b. Historical buildings in the district feature architectural details, such as decorative brickwork, awnings, windows, and other facades that are encouraged to be adapted to new buildings and maintained in historical buildings. (Figures 1.0 and 1.1)

c. Where building sizes are not comparable, larger building facades shall be
broken down into units that resemble the size of existing building facades.

(3) Building Materials.

a. Exterior building materials shall convey an impression of history and durability. Materials such as masonry, stone, stucco, and wood are encouraged in keeping with the architectural styles of the late nineteenth century and early to mid-twentieth century and are encouraged to be preserved.

b. Where masonry is used for exterior finish, decorative patterns must be incorporated. Examples of these decorative patterns include multicolored masonry units such as brick, stone, or cast stone, in layered or geometric patterns, or split-faced concrete block to simulate a rusticated stone-type construction. (Figures 1.2 and 1.3; see PDF)

c. Metal is not allowed as the primary exterior building material but may be used for accents.

d. Wood siding must be bevel, shingle siding, or channel siding and must not be applied in a diagonal or herringbone pattern.

(4) Building Facades.

a. All building facades should have a sense of symmetry and balance on the building and parallel unity within the district based on the original historical architectural style.

b. Building alterations and renovations should maintain the original facade pattern with the use of original or similar materials to preserve the architectural style(s) in the district.

c. Construction and maintenance of ornamental devices, such as molding, entablature, and friezes, are encouraged at the roofline. (Figures 1.4 and
1.5; see PDF)

d. Buildings should incorporate and maintain features such as arcades, roofs, alcoves, porticoes, and awnings to preserve the architectural facade and protect pedestrians from weather elements. (Figures 1.6 and 1. 7; see PDF)

e. Store front facades elements include:

i. Clearly delineated upper and lower level facades. (Figure 1.8; see PDF)

ii. A lower level facade dominated by display windows and a clearly defined entry or entries. (Figure 1.9; see PDF)

ii. Smaller, regularly spaced windows in the upper level. (Figure 2.0; see PDF)

f. Rear facade should be maintained and/or constructed to support the overall appearance of the principal structure.

g. Maintain cornices and preserve original materials (figure 1.1; see PDF)

(5) Colors.

a. The purpose of adopting color requirements is to reinforce the existing, historical character and maintain a visually appealing central business district.

b. Colors for exterior building finishes shall be earth tones, brick tones, creams, pastels of earth tones, or dark/muted green, blues, and reds.

c. No more than two (2) principal colors shall be used on a building.

d. Bright, white, black, or primary colors shall be used only as accents, occupying a maximum of ten (10) percent of a building. No more than two (2) accent colors shall be used on a building.

(6) Roof Materials, Parapets, and Roof Pitch.

a. Pitched roof structures shall have a minimum roof pitch of 6:12.

b. Flat roofs are permitted with detailed stepped parapets or detailed brick
coursing. (Figure 2.1; see PDF)

c. Parapet comers must be stepped or the parapet must be designed to emphasize the center or primary entrance(s) of the building.

d. Visible sloped roofs must be a “non-color,” such as gray, black, or brown.

e. Roof shape, color, and texture shall be coordinated with the building’s perimeter walls and adjacent buildings and roof lines.

f. Visible roof materials must be wood or architectural grade composition shingle, slate, tile, or sheet metal with standing or batten seam. Copper roofing may be considered appropriate for some building accents.

g. All roof and wall-mounted mechanical, electrical, communications, and service equipment, including satellite dishes and vent pipes, must be screened from public view by parapets, walls, or by other approved means.

(7) Windows and Doors.

a. Windows which allow views to the interior activity or display areas are encouraged.

b. Glass curtain walls, reflective glass, and painted or darkly tinted glass shall not be used.

c. No windows in the district shall be boarded up, covered with paper, or any other way covered or designed to restrict view into the interior of the building, with the exception of approved window lettering.

d. Ground Floor Windows:

i. All new buildings in the district must provide ground floor windows.

ii. Any wall that faces the street in the district must contain at least 20% of the ground floor wall area in display areas, windows, or doorways. Blank walls are prohibited.

e. Upper Floor Windows:

i. Glass area dimensions shall not exceed 5′ x 7′.

ii. Windows must have trim or molding.

f. First floor door entries were generally recessed as part of the three-bay concept. These repetitive recessed entries are part of the rhythm of the street as pedestrians walk along.

g. Maintain the historic size and shape of the original doors, and attempt to use original door materials whenever possible.

h. Maintain recessed entries where appropriate and bulkheads and kick plates.

(8) Lighting.

a. All building entrances and exits must be well lighted.

b. Exterior lighting must be an integral part of the architectural design, complement the existing ornamental street lighting, and be in keeping with the overall architectural character of the historical building and district.

c. The minimum lighting level for building entries is four foot-candles. Lighting must be a pedestrian scale and the source light must be shielded to reduce glare.

d. Unapproved lighting sources shall include, but not limited to, mercury vapor, unshielded fluorescent, neon, or tube gas lighting.

e. For buildings with lighted signs that contribute to the exterior lighting of the building and/or district, the entire sign must be operational and all bulbs must be fully functional at all times.

f. Exterior lighting sources that flash, flicker, blink, or produce any other similar effect are prohibited.

(9) Signage.

a. Signs should be architecturally compatible with the style, composition, materials, colors, and details of the building.

c. Hand-written signs are prohibited within the district.

d. Temporary computer generated signs on standard/legal paper detailing community events are permitted for a limited time of two (2) weeks prior and two (2) days following the event.

e. Temporary computer generated signs on standard/legal paper detailing sales, specials, or any other advertisement are permitted for no longer than two (2) weeks.

f. Permanent signage must reference the bonafide business operating in the building in which the sign is placed and shall not be used to advertise for an off-site business or location.

g. Temporary signage must include the name of the bonafide business for which the sign is advertising.

h. Temporary signs may be placed on the inside window, door, or doorway of the building. Temporary signs may not be placed on the awning, brick, wall, or any other exterior feature of the building.

i. Detached signs, sandwich board signs, and other moveable signs may be placed within the public right-of-way, but must not block free movement of pedestrians.

j. All other signage must be approved by the Code of the City of Adel.

( 10) Sidewalk Displays and Streetscape.

a. Sidewalk displays may only be utilized in accord with the C-1 Commercial District Zoning Code.

b. Benches, outdoor seating, and trash receptacles must be in keeping with the overall character of the building and district. (Figures 2.2 and 2.3; see PDF)

c. Benches and other streetscape items may be placed within the public right-of-way, but must not block the free movement of pedestrians, and prior approval must be granted by the Zoning Administrator.

(11) Waste and Storage.

a. All exterior waste disposal and storage areas shall be placed in the rear of the building and screened from public view through the use of an enclosure or structure or approved visible barrier.

b. Additional measures shall be taken to prevent debris from disbursing from the affected property.

(12) Awnings.

a. Awnings may be used if there is historic-evidence of their use on the building.

b. Awnings shall not be installed where they would conceal design features of the building.

c. Awnings should be sized and shaped to fit the storefront.

d. Awnings shall be of canvas or other woven material. Aluminum or metal are not appropriate except when original to the building.

e. The color of the awning should compliment the building colors and be compatible with the historic period of the building.

f. The bottom most point of the awning must be at least eight feet above the ground and shall extend no further from the building than within two feet of the inside of the curb.

g. Advertising on the awning border must be historically appropriate.

(f) Variance From Standards. The City Council may vary these design standards if it is determined that the proposed project is not detrimental to the public welfare or intent of these regulations.

Where necessary to accommodate individuality and creativity in site design, or where conformance with the strict requirements of these design standards is not feasible on a particular property, the City Council may modify the requirements of these standards in reviewing and approving the site plan, provided that the physical improvements and features that the applicant proposes to install on the site are equivalent in effectiveness to the requirements of these design standards.

(g) Enforcement and Remedies.

( 1) Any violation or attempted violation of the design standards or of any other condition or requirement adopted pursuant thereto may be restrained, corrected, or abated, as the case may be, by injunction or another appropriate proceeding.

A violation of the design standards shall be considered a violation of the zoning ordinance of the City. The remedies of the City shall include the following:

a. Issuing a stop-work order for any and all work on the building.

b. Seeking an injunction or other order of restraint or abatement that requires the removal or correction of the nonconformity.

c. Imposing any penalties that can be imposed directly by the City under the zoning ordinance.

d. Seeking in court the imposition of any penalties that can be imposed by such court under the zoning ordinance.

e. In case of any development or construction that imposes an immediate danger to the public health or safety, taking such measures as are available to the City under the applicable provisions of the zoning ordinance and the building code for such circumstances.

(2) The City shall have such other remedies as are and as may from time to time be provided for or allowed by state law for a violation of the zoning ordinance.

Please contact Adel City Hall with any questions.