By Adrienne Boudreau:
A stern and somewhat skeptical crowd gathered at Buffalo State College’s Bulger Communication Center last night to discuss the implications of getting the potential “Elmwood Historic District (East)” nominated as part of State and National Registers of Historic Places.
Representatives from Preservation Buffalo Niagara, Elmwood Village Association and the New York State Preservation Office facilitated the public meeting with Elmwood Village residents on what exactly the implications of getting the recognition would be.
“The designation would allow residential and commercial property owners to qualify for state, and possibly federal, tax credits to help with property improvements that fall under Secretary of the Interior standards set to preserve historical buildings,” said Carly Battin of the Elmwood Village Association.
Residents seemed mainly concerned with being limited by these standards in their design freedom and contracting choices, as well as the exact standards needed to be determined as a “contributing property to the historic district,” a mandatory designation for those hopeful to receive the tax credits.
“Because Buffalo has such a long history of doing this kind of rehabilitation there’s a well established line of craftsman in the community who do that kind of work, so you would have a choice of people to go to for that… It’s local employment and local materials,” said Tom Yots of Preservation Buffalo Niagara.
As for those concerned about whether or not their properties will qualify as “contributing historical properties” the group seemed to advise residents not to do any more work on their properties without consultation on if the work will hinder their chances at being approved.
“I want to do work this year but I don’t know if the work will be appropriate or not and I don’t want to mess things up for myself,” said one resident who was looking forward to some summer renovations.
According to the presentation, 90% of the buildings in the Elmwood West area, designated in 2012, were considered contributing.
My question? So what if you don’t want to adhere to the standards set by the Secretary of Interior? What if your design ambitions are post 1950’s?
“This is a voluntary program, you don’t have to take advantage of the tax credits, you don’t have to do this sort of work to your home if you don’t want to, but it can serve as a great incentive when you decide to do the sort of work that maintains your home’s historical appearance,” said Battin.
The goal is to have the roughly 17,000 properties on the east side of the Elmwood – from Lafayette Avenue to North Street and in the area east of Elmwood Avenue to Delaware Avenue designated by March 2015.
The area initially included from Iroquois Drive and Rumsey Road southwards but Census data showed the median income level was too high to qualify for those tax credits. You’ll just have to renovate your lawn gargoyles 100% out of pocket I guess.
Learn more at: www.preservationbuffaloniagara.org
Lead image: In 2011 the City published the document: Important Information for Property Owners of Historic Buildings & Sites in Buffalo – see it here in PDF form