Historic Designation and Zoning



Our newly updated brochure, Historic Landmarks and Historic Districts (pdf), offers a concise summary of Round Rock’s historic designation programs and the implications of designation for property owners.

Why designate a historic property?

Historic designation helps identify properties that deserve protection, which helps government and private groups when planning new development. Historic properties receive extra consideration when federal projects (such as highways) are proposed and designed (see Protecting Historic Properties: A Citizen’s Guide to Section 106 Review). Designation also helps guide visitors to places of historic interest.  In addition, designated properties have priority access to Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) staff for technical assistance, and designation may help qualify for rehabilitation grants or tax incentives.

Designation also carries responsibilities. Before making any changes to the exterior (including color changes), the owner must obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness from the HPC, certifying that the changes are historically appropriate under the City’s adopted historic design guidelines. 

How landmarks are designated

In Round Rock, historic landmarks are designated by applying Historic Overlay Zoning in addition to the property’s base zoning. The Historic Overlay Zoning District (Part III Section 10-55) identifies properties that merit extra consideration when planning new development in the area, and helps interested parties identify the places that have shaped the community. It also helps the owner qualify for tax incentives to preserve and maintain the property.

To be designated, the property must satisfy certain criteria (below) and the applicant must have the owner’s permission to apply. Applications are reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), and decided by the City Council.

Criteria for Local Historic Designation

The following criteria are considered in determining whether the Historic Overlay Zoning District should be applied to a structure, site or area of the city (full criteria is given in Zoning and Development Code Part III Section 10-55 (c)):

  • Historic designation by the National Register of Historic Places or Texas Historical Commission
  • The property’s role in the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the City, State or other society
  • Occurrence of a notable event on the property
  • Identification of the property with a person(s) who contributed notably to the culture and development of the City, State or other society
  • Distinctive elements of architectural design, material or craftsmanship, or the distinctiveness of a craftsman, master builder or architect, or a style or innovation
  • Archaeological value that the property can be expected to yield
  • Other unique historical value

State and National Historic Designations

The State of Texas recognizes three types of designations for historic and prehistoric properties: Recorded Texas Landmark, Historic Texas Cemetery and State Archaeological Landmark. The Texas Historical Commission (THC) administers these designations, as well as Texas’ contributions to the National Parks Service’s National Register of Historic Places. The National Register includes historic buildings, sites, objects, structures and districts. The Round Rock Commercial Historic District is a National Register Historic District. This article from the Texas Historical Commission’s Medallion newsletter, Test Your National Register Knowledge, explains the different designations.

Tax incentives for historic properties

Round Rock’s partial property tax exemption for historic properties program is separate from the historic designation program, and has slightly different qualification criteria. The program offers an exemption of 75% of City property taxes as an incentive for proper maintenance and preservation.

At the federal level, the National Park Service and Internal Revenue Service, in partnership with the Texas Historical Commission, also offer tax incentives to encourage historic preservation. There is also a new tax incentive at the state level. Both the federal and state incentives are for major repair/restoration rather than for ongoing maintenance.

Useful Preservation Information  

Historic Landmarks and Historic Districts (pdf)
Historic Preservation Programs (pdf)
Information for Owners of Older and Historic Buildings (pdf)
Certificate of Appropriateness application packet 2023 (pdf)
Protecting Historic Properties: A Citizen’s Guide to Section 106 Review (brochure)
Historic Design Guidelines:
Historic Design Guidelines for Residential Properties (pdf)
Historic Design Guidelines for Commercial Properties (pdf)
Zoning and Development Code (Code of Ordinances Part III):
    Section 10-66  Creates the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC)
    Section 10-56  Certificate of Appropriateness
    Section 10-55  Historic (H) Overlay District designation process
    Section 10-57  Partial Tax Exemption for Historically Significant Sites
    Section 2-86  Historic Overlay (H) District definition
State and national organizations:
Texas Historical Commission
National Register Of Historic Places

Contact Joelle Jordan at 512-218-5422 for additional information.

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