City and Borough of Juneau
155 S. Seward Street
Juneau, Alaska 99801
tel. 907-586-5240
fax 907-586-5385

Historic Preservation in Juneau

Preservation Ordinances

NOTE: This page is to provide general information about the CBJ preservation ordinances. You MUST consult the official online version of the CBJ Code (linked from this page) or the printed CBJ Code (available at the Juneau Public Library and Mendenhall Valley Public Library) or the printed CBJ Administrative Code, before making decisions about an historic property.

* Building Code Provisions (new item)

The CBJ Building Code (Title 19) provides authorization to the Building Official to relax certain requirements for designated historic buildings.

The code reference is 19.01.020(I).

*Tax assessment forgiveness

The CBJ Tax Code provides a tax assessment forgiveness for certain work relating to designated historic buildings.

The CBJ code references are 69.10.005(5) and 69.10.020(7)

*Downtown Historic District Standards

The purpose of the standards are to preserve the historical and architectural character of the Juneau Downtown Historic District. The standards are contained in 4 CBJ AC 080 of the Community Development Department Regulations. The standards are as follows:


Chapter 80: Historic District Standards


  1. Purpose - The intent of this chapter is to provide minimum design standards in order to maintain and enhance the historic architectural character, protect property values, enhance the appearance of the community, and to visually unify the downtown historic district.

  2. Compliance with Requirements - Except as provided in this section, all developments within the downtown historic district shall comply with this chapter. Residential buildings designed for up to four dwelling units and buildings accessory thereto on a single zoning lot are exempt from the requirements of this chapter unless such buildings are determined by the director to be a part of a larger development.

  3. Plan Submittal and Review

(1) General. The following procedures are for persons who intend to undertake development projects within the downtown Juneau historic district.

  1. Application is filed with the department.

  2. The department schedules the application for review by the Design Review Board.

  3. A notice of hearing is published at least three days prior to the hearing date.

  4. The Design Review Board reviews and evaluates the site development plan with consideration of the following:

    1. Preservation of the historical outward appearance and original design if development or work involves modification to existing buildings.

    2. Harmony of scale, architectural style, sidewalk level use, and materials with the existing historical character if development involves construction of a new building.

  5. The director issues a site development plan permit with the board's action.

(b) Major Projects - The following items are required for major rehabilitation or renovation and new construction within the historic district. These shall accompany the application form and must be submitted to the department for review, including the Design Review Board, and the building department.

  1. The applicant shall submit three copies of the application signed by the applicant and, if the premises are leased, by the owner. The location of the property shall be clearly indicated on an attached map.

  2. The applicant shall submit current color photographs of the site and existing structures showing both the overall condition of the structures, the materials, and color. The applicant shall also submit color photographs of contiguous sites and structures showing prevalent architectural styles and the character of the area. All photographs shall be leveled to indicate the direction of the view and shall be mounted on 8 x 11 inch heavy artist display board, matte board, or heavy bond.

  3. Major exterior modification applications shall include three copies of a site plan showing the existing structure and its relationship to the site and all proposed alterations and additions. These drawings must be scale, and copies may be blue lines, black lines, or of similar quality.

  4. The applicant shall submit three copies of elevations of all facades with street frontage and any facades which are visible from the street showing proposed fenestration, canopies, signs, exterior equipment, and appropriate architectural detailing. Proposed building materials and finishes must be indicated with color and texture and must be of a scale appropriate to show the required detail. These drawings must be to scale, keyed to the sample required in subsection 5 of this section, and may be hand-colored blue lines, black lines, or of a similar quality.

  5. Samples of materials and photographs of products to be used in exterior finishing shall be provided. These may include color chips, samples of molding, or photographs of architectural details to be incorporated in the exterior finishing. These shall be keyed to the elevations required in subsection 4 of this section, and must be mounted on heavy artist display board.

  6. If the Design Review Board requires modification to the submitted exhibition or additional submittal due to unusual conditions, these shall be submitted by the applicant as requested by the board prior to the applicant receiving a site development plan permit.

4 CBJAC 080.020 HISTORIC DISTRICT -- GENERAL GUIDELINES. The following guidelines are intended to provide the applicant with an idea of the general criteria the Design Review Board will employ when reviewing proposals for the downtown historic district. They are designed to preserve the characteristics which typify development in the district and provide the basis for the more specific design standards which follow in the next section.

  1. All alterations to existing structures should be performed so as to preserve the historical and architectural character of Juneau's downtown historic district.

  2. The distinguishing original qualities or character of a building, structure, or site and its environment shall not be destroyed. The removal or alteration of any historic material or destruction of architectural features should be avoided when possible.

  3. All buildings, structures, and sites should be recognized as products of their own time. Alterations that have no historical basis should be discouraged.

  4. Changes which may have taken place in the course of time are evidence of the history and development of a building, structure, or site, and its environment. These changes may have acquired significance of their own, which should be recognized and respected.

  5. Contemporary design for alterations and additions to existing properties shall not be discouraged when such alterations or additions do not destroy the historical character of the structure. The same will hold true of new construction, that is contemporary design shall not be discouraged if it does no violate the historic district as a whole. Design proposals for both new construction and alterations to existing structures must be compatible with the size, scale, color, material, and character of the property, the immediately surrounding structures, and those in the historic district.

4 CBJAC 080.030 DESIGN STANDARDS GENERAL. The following design standards apply to both new construction and alterations to existing structures. The first three standards, for heights, setbacks and roofs, collectively define the form of the street scape. The next three standards for retail storefronts, windows, and architectural details, are all listed under "front facade." These elements both define the character of a building and contribute to the character of the historic district as a whole. The remaining design standards for finishing materials, color, canopies, signs, and service lines, apply to the exterior of buildings. They also contribute to both the character of the facade and collectively, to the street scape.

4 CBJAC 080.040 EXCEPTIONS. The Design Review Board may, in special cases make exceptions to the design standards provided the alternative does not distract from the character of the district. In such cases, the board's findings must include written justification for granting such exceptions.


  1. Height Standard. Building height requirements are broken down into four subdistricts, comprising thirty-five foot, thirty-eight foot, forty-five foot and fifty-five foot height restriction areas. The location of these subdistricts is shown on the height standard map.

  2. Setback Standard. Front and side setbacks for new construction or additions shall maintain the visual continuity of the street scape.

  3. Roof Standard. New construction or alterations to existing structures shall respect the original roof form, and shall create the appearance of a horizontal parapet wall from the street. Mechanical equipment and other appurtenances located on the roof must be adequately screened so as to not be visible from the street level.


  1. Retail Storefront. Alterations to the facade of a building at the first floor level shall conform as nearly as possible to the original design of the building if that building is on a major street and if the original building employed a typical storefront type of facade. A proposed change of use in itself shall not justify an exception and shall require that the building employ mitigating elements to satisfy this guideline. New construction on a major street shall also utilize the elements and proportions of a typical storefront facade at street level.

  2. Window Standard. Windows in new construction shall conform in outward appearance to the style, materials, proportions and placement of windows typical of the historic district. If an existing structure is altered, the replacement windows shall match as nearly as possible the dimensions and subdivisions of those original to the structure. The suggested material for windows, including all elements associated with the exterior fenestration such as the trim, sash, frame, sill, and transom, is wood. Windows of other materials and styles are not acceptable, unless they are found to match in size, proportion, color and detail the wood sash typical of the historic district.

  3. Architectural Standard. The original architectural details such as moldings, cornices, brackets, columns, and pilasters, of a building shall be maintained in good repair. If they must be replaced for maintenance purposes or during the course of minor alterations, they should be replaced as nearly as possible with elements of the same type and of similar or compatible materials. If substantial replacement is required due to deterioration or a major alteration to the building, the elements shall conform in dimension and detail to those on the original structure. In the case of new construction, architectural details shall be suitable to the building itself and shall conform in dimension and detail with precedents found on comparable buildings or within the district.


  1. Finishing Material Standard. Finishing materials used in repairing or partially replacing exterior walls should match as closely as possible the materials used on the existing buildings. Where appropriate to the rehabilitation of the building, finishing materials used in major alterations to a building should match as closely as possible the original material used on the building in dimension, texture, and finish. Recommended finishing materials for both new construction and alterations to existing structures are horizontal wood siding, such as shiplap, tongue and groove, clapboard siding, and smooth stucco finish. All buildings must be painted or finished with semi-transparent stain.

  2. Color Standard. All siding, wood trim, and window trim shall be finished with paint or a semi-transparent stain. All colors and the placement of color on the building should preserve or emphasize structural detailing. All colors and color combinations shall be subject to approval by the Design Review Board.

  3. Canopy Standard. If canopies are removed during alteration, they must be replaced by canopies in accordance with the following design standards. Canopies must be provided in new construction as well, and where appropriate must allow for a horizontal continuation of the canopies on adjacent or contiguous buildings. Materials traditionally associated with "add-on" or temporary canopies or awnings, such as corrugated fiberglass, canvas, or aluminum are prohibited. Cantilevered concrete, with suitable finishing materials, or wood frame construction should be employed with suitable roofing materials such as asphalt. Canopies shall not follow the grade, but shall be hung horizontally and shall step up with changes in grade, so as to keep within the character of existing canopies in the historic district.

4 CBJAC 080.080 DEFINITIONS. As used in this chapter, the following terms have the meanings set forth:

"Bracket" is a support element under eaves, shelves, or other overhangs; often more decorative than functional.

"Building Height" is the vertical distance from the average elevation of the adjoining ground to the highest point of the coping of a flat roof.

"Canopy" is a roof like structure attached to a building projecting over the sidewalk.

"Clapboard" is a long, narrow board with one edge thicker than the other, overlapped to cover the outer walls of frame structures; also known as weatherboard.

"Clerestory" is the upper part of the nave, transepts, and choir of a church containing windows; also, any similar windowed wall or construction used for light and ventilation. Typically this occurs above the canopy.

"Cornice" is the upper, projecting section of an entablature; also projecting ornamental molding along the top of a building or wall.

"Double Hung Sash Window" is a window with two sash, one above the other, arranged to slide vertically past each other.

"Facade" is the front of a building, part of a building facing the street.

"Parapet" is a low, solid, protective wall or railing along the edge of a roof or balcony.

"Pilaster" is a shallow pier attached to a wall; often decorated to resemble a classical column.

*Demolition hold for photographic documentation

The CBJ Building Code (Title 19) provides that the Building Department may hold a permit to demolish an historic building for a period of five days to allow photographic documentation.

The code reference is 19.01.070(c)(1)(K)

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