The Downtown Historic District designation has helped preserve buildings that would otherwise be demolished due to the rapid rate of growth and demand for commercial space in the downtown. Designated in 1980, the buildings in the district date back to the 1880s. The boundaries of the district are East Jefferson Street on the north, Gertrude Avenue on the west, Church Street on the south, and Rosalind Avenue on the east. There are approximately eighty structures in the district.
The Downtown Historic District was designated in 1980 as the City’s first local historic district. The district is a cohesive collection of buildings that reflects the commercial and governmental history of Orlando. It encompasses eight square blocks of approximately 80 buildings constructed from the 1880s until the early 1940s. Interspersed among modern skyscrapers, the historic buildings of this district offer a window to the city’s dynamic past.
The variety of building styles and sizes reflects the history of architecture and construction during that period. Most of the earliest buildings are characteristic of the late Victorian era with decorative brick detailing and cornices. The Elijah Hand Building (1905) at 15-17 West Pine Street is one of the most intact examples from this period. Into the 1920s, classical and Mediterranean elements dominated the buildings of downtown. Also, construction of taller buildings such as the Angebilt Hotel (1923-24) at 37 North Orange Avenue and the Metcalf Building (1924), at 100 South Orange Avenue, was possible due to the advent of more affordable and reliable elevators. From the late 1920s until the 1940s, several buildings were constructed in the modernistic streamlined styles. The Kress Building (1935), at 15-17 West Church Street, is an excellent example of the Art Deco style.
In 1982, most of the district was specially certified by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior for the purpose of allowing property owners to pursue the Federal Investment Tax Credit. Several individual buildings have also been included on the National Register of Historic Places. They are the Rogers Kiene Building (1886) located at 37-39 South Magnolia Avenue, the Old Orlando Railroad Depot (1889) at 76-78 West Church Street and the Tinker Building (1925) at 18 West Pine Street.
Before you make any exterior changes to your property, a Certificate of Appropriateness must first be issued by the Historic Preservation Board.
Exterior changes that will minimally impact the appearance of a structure, such as signs, paint color, and repair with matching materials, can be expedited by the Minor Review Committee of the Board in 2 to 10 days. Major modifications that would significantly impact a property, such as alterations, additions, new construction, relocation, and demolition, require a hearing of the Board for approval. Expect approximately seven weeks from the closing date until the Certificate of Appropriateness is issued. The City charges a $50 fee for a Certificate of Appropriateness.
The City recognizes the importance of offering incentives to businesses choosing to locate and rehabilitate buildings in the Downtown Historic District. Two preservation incentives, a federal tax credit and a property tax exemption, are currently offered for historic properties in the district.
The owner of a building located in the certified portion of the district may qualify for the Federal Investment Tax Credit for the rehabilitation of a historic commercial building contributing to the district. The credit is based on 20% of the qualified expenditures necessary for the substantial rehabilitation of a commercial certified historic building. Many downtown property owners have taken advantage of this credit in the past. For more information on this program, contact the State Historic Preservation Office.
In 1994, the City adopted a property tax exemption for the substantial rehabilitation of locally designated historic property. The 10 year exemption applies to 100-percent of the City’s portion of the property taxes attributed to the increase in property value due to rehabilitation. The exemption remains intact with the sale of property.
For further information regarding the Downtown Historic District or questions concerning modifications to structures within the district, contact the Historic Preservation Officer at 407.246.3350, or the Historic Preservation Board recording secretary at 407.246.3416.
Permitting, located on the ground floor of City Hall, can assist you with questions regarding the necessary permit(s) for your project. Contact Permitting at 407.246.2271.
Online Downtown Historic Walking Tour (Mobile Friendly)
Printable map of DowntownHistoric District (PDF)
Downtown Historic District Ordinance (PDF)
Downtown Historic Walking Tour (PDF)
2002 HPB Calendar Showcasing Downtown Historic District (PDF)