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Guidelines updated for historic buildings in Gainesville
New document separates residential, commercial uses
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A revised set of design guidelines for Gainesville’s historic districts separates residential-style buildings used as homes from those occupied by businesses.

“Pretty much, the major change is that it was reorganized to make it more user-friendly,” said Jessica Tullar, Gainesville’s special projects manager. “In terms of text, really the only difference is that we added guidelines for commercial-style buildings such as the Big Bear Cafe, which is a local, individual landmark.”

The changes were adopted by the Gainesville Historic Preservation Commission at its Monday meeting. The former guidelines for residential-style buildings have been in place since 2005.

“Residential-style architecture use for residential purposes is located in one chapter, whereas those that are residential-style architecture for commercial purposes, like Green Street, are its own chapter,” Tullar explained. “But the verbiage is the same.”

She said it was a needed change.

“We wanted to make (the guidelines) more Gainesville-focused,” she said. “We spent five years surveying the resources that we have in Gainesville. And through that process we identified the architectural styles and building types found here in Gainesville, and we incorporated that information into the new, updated guidelines so folks who own historic properties here in town have a better understanding of what they own.”

The updated document includes further information on different architectural styles, like the Spanish Colonial Revival home found at 1165 Riverside Drive, or the example of Italianate style at 310 Spring St.

It provides photos and images of what’s expected in building maintenance in these local historic districts, which primarily cover buildings along Green Street, and into the Ridgewood Avenue neighborhood.

The guidelines also apply to the Big Bear Cafe building at 893 Main St., and a residential-style house on Athens Street, which is owned by Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

“They did an excellent job (on the guidelines),” said Dick Bachman, commission chairman. “I think it will clarify the historic requirements for everybody that’s concerned with going through that (review) process.

“I think it’s just a better explanation of everything,” he added.

To make a change to the exterior of a building in these locations, property owners go through an application process. Tullar said the guidelines are meant to be “encouraging,” and are fluid rather than set in stone.

“As far as our design review process, those rules seem to be working just fine,” she said. “When you read (the guidelines), it’s very flexible language. It’s not the same thing as a zoning ordinance or a code that requires people to do certain things.”

This revision process was funded by a Historic Preservation Fund grant of $9,000 in 2012 through the Georgia Historic Preservation Commission. Gainesville spent $6,000, Tullar said.