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ABOUT THE RICHMOND ASHLAND NATIONAL REGISTER HISTORIC DISTRICT INITIATIVE

On Thursday, September 20, 2012 , the State Board for Historic Preservation voted unanimously to recommend the addition of the Elmwood Historic District (West) to the State and National Registers of Historic Places during its meeting at Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site, Yonkers.

The Richmond Ashland National Register Historic District Initiative (RANHDI or the Initiative) is a community-led collaborative process that is creating awareness of our neighborhood’s boundaries and historic importance, coalescing pride of place under a brand that is attractive to current and potential home and business owners, and preparing the way for appropriate investment in homes and buildings that can be assisted with available historic rehabilitation tax credits.

This project is funded in part by Preserve New York, a grant program of the Preservation League of New York State and the New York State Council on the Arts. In addition, financial support has been provided by City of Buffalo Common Council members Michael J. LoCurto  and David A. Rivera, the Baird Foundation and the D-B Trust. However the largest amount of funding – over $16,000 to-date – has been raised from over 100 community home and business owners.  

The Elmwood Historic District (West)
A Streetcar Neighborhood within Olmsted’s Buffalo Parks and Parkway System

Central to the Initiative is the nomination of nearly 1,700 historic buildings in the Richmond Elmwood neighborhood to the National Register of Historic Places, thereby making available various investment tax credits to home and business owners, in the Elmwood Historic District (West).

THE INITIATIVE

St. John’s-Grace Episcopal Church on Colonial Circle, located within Elmwood Historic District (West) is the Community Sponsor. It has established a Community Council of property owners from the proposed district and members of the congregation to guide the Initiative and provide stewardship of resources.

RANHDI is a largely community-funded effort. The schedule and scope of the effort will be determined primarily by the financial resources made available. Funds will be used for a major awareness campaign, communications, community meetings, fund- and friend-raising, and professional services of field and scholarly research related to the preparing and submitting of the National Register nomination and seeing it through the approval process.

The direct and indirect costs of the Richmond Elmwood portion of the National Register nomination have been budgeted at $50,000, of which $35,000 is fieldwork and the preparation of the nomination and seeing it through the listing process at the State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service. The remainder of the proposed funds will be used for implementing the District, including signage, community education and technical assistance under the guidance of the Community Council.

BROAD AND ENTHUSIASTIC SUPPORT

We were awarded a $7,500 PreserveNY grant from the Preservation League of New York State. We have commitments of funding from our Buffalo Common Council representatives and are seeking grant funding from other public officials and foundations. We have hundreds of letters and cards of support from homeowners, congregations, business owners and elected officials.

St. John’s-Grace Episcopal Church has contributed significant in-kind services, including secretarial services, access to their website, and the use of their historic church for meetings.

OUR MESSAGE

1. The Elmwood Historic District (West) is part of a larger historic neighborhood within Olmsted’s Buffalo Parks and Parkway System that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This neighborhood, once designated, will move our city further toward completion of the designation of the entire core area of the City of Buffalo as historically significant at the National Register level. Designation of Hamlin Park – a separate initiative – will also add to the Olmsted neighborhood legacy. Designation as a nationally significant historic district helps to protect both the historic nature of our neighborhood and Buffalo’s unique place in architectural history.

(See the boundaries of the West district and a potential future East district…)

2. State and National designation as a historic district allows home and business owners in qualifying census tracts (including the Elmwood Historic District) to qualify for NY State Rehabilitation Tax Credits for their certified historic rehabilitation projects. There is no impact on any household that chooses not to participate in the program. There is not any new requirement of home or business owners in a designated National Register historic district to submit their rehabilitation or maintenance plans to a local planning or local preservation board. Receipt of tax credits, however, will require pre-approval of the project by the State Historic Preservation Office following very broad federal guidelines meant to help preserve the historic character of a historic building in a historic district. This is not a local district.

3. This is a neighborhood-driven initiative. The RANDHI Community Council is made up of 20 people who live in all parts of the community or are members of St. John’s-Grace Episcopal Church. Some also serve as representatives of elected representatives. The Community Council provides oversight of the Initiative and stewardship of the resources provided. Because this is a neighborhood effort we need to show evidence of the support of the people through financial contributions and written letters of support from the people who own homes and businesses in our neighborhood. We also have to show that there is not now and will not be a major pushback from home and business owners. There has been no opposition to date to the idea of creating a National Register historic district, and our continuous communication with our neighbors will continue this support.

CONTACT THE RANHDI COMMUNITY COUNCIL

Kenneth A. Rogers, Chair
RANHDI Community Council
St. John’s-Grace Episcopal Church
51 Colonial Circle, Buffalo, NY 14222

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES

The National Register of Historic Places is our nation’s official list of architecturally and culturally significant buildings, structures, objects and districts. Listing is an honor granted to a small percentage of the nation’s millions of buildings.

We live in a nationally significant historic streetcar neighborhood that retains excellent examples of residential architecture of many styles. Our neighborhood is located within the renowned park and parkway system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Currently, our neighborhood, part of the Elmwood Village, is one of the city’s most stable and vibrant.

The National Register listing is an honor that enhances pride of place and property values, encourages reinvestment, and allows access to funding and tax credits for residential homeowners, commercial building owners and non-profit owners of historic buildings.

National Register Historic Districts (e.g. Parkside East and West in Buffalo) are different than local historic districts (e.g. Allentown). While each type of historic district has its benefits we have chosen the National Register path because there are tax benefits and there are no restrictions on the use, treatment or transfer of National Register-listed private property. In our National Register Historic District buildings will not be open to the public. There will be no need to consult any new agency for exterior changes. Rehabilitation review is involved only with requests for tax credits and/or public funding programs, which request is voluntary.

The National Park Service, keepers of the National Register of Historic Places, clearly describes that no review or limitations are placed on listed properties;

“Owners of private property listed on the National Register have no obligation to open their properties to the public, to restore them, or even to maintain them, if they choose not to do so. Owners can do anything they wish with their property provided that no Federal license, permit, or funding is involved.” [NPS]

(Learn more about the National Register of Historic Places and the benefits of having your property listed in the National Register…)

NYS REHABILITATION INCOME TAX CREDITS FOR HOMEOWNERS

The owner of a National Register-listed home which is his/her primary residence located in an eligible census tract who undertakes pre-approved improvements costing more than $5,000 is eligible for a state income tax credit of 20% of the costs of rehabilitation, up to a credit of $50,000. Eligible expenses include but are not limited to the soft and hard costs of roofing, masonry repairs, painting, window repair, new utilities, insulation and interior projects – all to maintain and operate a historic building.

(Learn more about the NY State Rehabilitation Tax Credit and how you can receive a 20% tax credit of the costs made of improving your historic property…)

There are also state and federal rehabilitation tax credits for depreciable buildings, including rental apartments. Historic buildings owned by non-profit or community groups or religious structures that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places have funding opportunities through state and federal grants.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

You may have questions about RANHDI and the Elmwood Historic District National Register Historic District. Many of them may be answered at the Frequently Asked Questions page or please Contact Us at any time with any questions. We are happy to answer them!

© Clinton Brown Company Architecture, 2012

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