FAQ

You may have questions about RANHDI. We are happy to answer them! Please review the following Frequently Asked Questions or contact the RANHDI Community Council.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

General

About Historic Districts

Does this include my Property?

More about the Tax Credit

For Business Owners

Getting Involved


WHAT IS THE RICHMOND ASHLAND NATIONAL REGISTER HISTORIC DISTRICT INITIATIVE (RANHDI)?

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 buildings and properties that can be assisted with available historic rehabilitation tax credits.

Central to the Initiative is the nomination, by Summer 2012, of nearly 1,700 historic buildings in the neighborhood to the National Register of Historic Places as the Elmwood Historic District (West), thereby making available investment tax credits and other benefits to home and business owners.

St. John’s-Grace Episcopal Church on Colonial Circle, located within the proposed 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.

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 $17,000 to-date – has been raised from over 120 community home and business owners. 

(Join your neighbors in becoming a supporter and contributor to RANHDI…)


WHAT IS THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES?

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of buildings, structures, districts, objects, and sites significant in the history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture of the United States. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 established the National Register programs.

The National Register nomination itself is a scholarly document that clearly describes the architectural and cultural significance of a building, structure, district, object or site. Based on the size and complexity of the building or district, the entire process can take from 6 to 12 months.

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 operators of historic buildings.

(Learn more about the National Register of Historic Places…)



IS THIS A LOCAL HISTORIC OR LOCAL PRESERVATION DISTRICT LIKE ALLENTOWN OR WEST VILLAGE?

No, the Elmwood Historic District (West) is not a local historic district with exterior review by others.There are no restrictions on the use, treatment or transfer of National Register-listed private property. Buildings do not need be open to the public. There is no need to consult any new agency or preservation board for exterior changes. Rehabilitation review is involved only with requests for tax credit and 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 National Register-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]

Information about local preservation districts and their distinction from a National Register Historic District is available here: Local and National Register Historic Designations: A Comparison and Overview.

For more information about Buffalo’s local historic districts contact the Buffalo Preservation Board at City Hall at 716-851-4064.


IS MY PROPERTY LOCATED IN THE ELMWOOD HISTORIC DISTRICT (WEST)? (EAST)?

Currently, the boundary of the Elmwood Historic District (West) is roughly, Forest Avenue to the north, along the east side only of Elmwood Avenue, Summer Street to the south, and both sides of Richmond Avenue to the west, and includes all of Dorchester Road. The boundary of Elmwood Historic District (West) is based on thematic and geographic boundaries. The final historic district boundary was determined by expert preservation consultants in consultation from the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service.

Please see a map of the district here and below are the street and address ranges that are currently included in the proposed historic district boundary.

A to Gi Gr to La Le to W
15-114 Anderson Pl 5 Grenway Alley 206-306 Lexington Ave
16-838 Ashland Ave 203-314 Highland Ave 20-542 Norwood Ave
525-623 Auburn Ave 181-204 Hodge Ave 507-588 Potomac Ave
4-142 Bidwell Pkwy 7-74 Colonial Cr 34-893 Richmond Ave
499-574 Bird Ave 14-176 Dorchester Rd 251-338 Summer Ave
543-640 Breckenridge 300-1122 Elmwood Ave* 502-585 W. Delavan
298-385 Bryant St 466-640 Ferry Circle 522-632 W. Ferry St
6-200 Claremont Ave 501-573 Forest Ave 304-506 W. Utica St
32-64 Gill Alley 495-568 Lafayette Ave

* Only the west side of Elmwood Avenue (represented by an even address number) is included in the Elmwood Historic District (West).

IS MY PROPERTY LOCATED IN THE ELMWOOD HISTORIC DISTRICT (EAST)?

Research and survey work for the Elmwood Historic District (West) has led to discussions with the State Historic Preservation Office of a potential of a second district to the east of Elmwood Avenue, the Elmwood Historic District (East). A potential boundary is visible on this conceptual map.

If you have questions about the location of your property, please contact Clinton Brown Company Architecture at 716-852-2020.


IS MY PROPERTY IN AN ELIGIBLE CENSUS TRACT?

Yes. If your property is located within the range of addresses included in the proposed Elmwood Historic District (West), you are located in an eligible census tract.

In order to qualify for the NY State Rehabilitation Tax Credit, your property must be located in an eligible census tract. An eligible census tract is one where the Median Family Income is at or below the NY State Median Family Income level. Based on the 2000 Census this threshold is $51,691. The numbers for the 2010 Census have not been released, but we are watching them closely and do not anticipate any change in eligibility.


WAS MY PROPERTY INCLUDED IN THE 2006 CITY OF BUFFALO GRANT-FERRY-FOREST HISTORIC RESOURCES SURVEY?

In 2006, the City of Buffalo commissioned Clinton Brown Company Architecture to complete a Historic Resources Survey (HRS) of the Grant-Ferry Planning Neighborhood and the Forest Planning Neighborhood. A Historic Resources Survey is the first step in identifying, recognizing and protecting heritage buildings and communities, the results of which are used for planning purposes.

This Intensive Level Historic Resources Survey documented the architecture, history and general condition of approximately 1,500 properties in the West Side of Buffalo. The document is known as “Historic Resources Intensive Level Survey: Grant-Ferry-Forest Neighborhood” and is available online.

(Read the Grant-Ferry-Forest Historic Resources Survey on the “Buffalo as an Architectural Museum” website…)

If you have questions about the information available about your property in the 2006 HRS, please Clinton Brown Company Architecture at 716-852-2020.


IS MY PROPERTY CONSIDERED “CONTRIBUTING” TO THE PROPOSED NATIONAL REGISTER HISTORIC DISTRICT?

Briefly, in order to be considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, a building must be generally at least 50 years old, retain the majority of its character-defining features, and be historically and/or architecturally significant to the history of the United States.

In a National Register Historic District, a building is determined by the expert consultant and the National Park Service and the State Historic Preservation Office to be “contributing” to the historic theme of the district, or in some cases “non-contributing.” Factors that may make a property ineligible for inclusion are age less than 50 years, large, incompatible additions, removal of character-defining features, replacement of historic materials and features with incompatible modern materials.

Only those properties considered “contributing” will be listed as part of the historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, and only those properties are eligible for the NY State Rehabilitation Tax Credit.

In the proposed Richmond Elmwood National Register Historic District, expert consultants estimate that 95% of all properties have been considered “contributing” to the historic district.

The final determination will be made by staff of the State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service as they review the National Register nomination.


WHAT IS THE NY STATE REHABILITATION TAX CREDIT?

Thanks to the NY State Rehabilitation Tax Credit legislation championed by Assemblymember Sam Hoyt and signed into law by then-Governor Patterson at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society in the Summer of 2009, owners of certified historic residences are eligible for a state income tax credit of 20% of costs of improving their historic home.

Briefly, the owner of a National Register-listed home 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. Exterior improvements must constitute 5% of the total cost of rehabilitation.

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, while retaining its historic character.

For example, a project at the minimum level of $5,000 would require only $250 be spent on the exterior and the tax credit or refund would be $1,000. A project costing $25,000, or roughly the costs of a new roof and exterior painting, would result in a $5,000 credit. If you are planning primarily interior improvements, such as new furnace or other utilities, consider that a $10,000 project requiring $500 of exterior work leaves $9,500 for interior improvements and will yield a $2,000 income tax credit.

(Read “Take Credit for your Historic House,” a step-by-step example of applying for and a receiving your tax credit…)

Once the National Register Historic District is certified, the homeowner will work directly with the State Historic Preservation Office’s dedicated staff member in completing the tax credit application form. It is intended to be simple enough to be completed by the homeowner. The RANHDI Community Council will assist homeowners in this process if requested.

(State Historic Preservation Office issued documents regarding the Rehabilitation Tax Credit are available at the online RANHDI Document Library…)

There are also rehabilitation tax credits for depreciable buildings, including storefronts, office and rental apartments, and non-profit groups operating in portions of historic properties. For more information about commercial tax credits and preservation grants, please contact Clinton Brown Company Architecture.


WHAT IMPROVEMENTS TO MY HOME ARE POTENTIALLY ELIGIBLE FOR THE NY STATE REHABILITATION TAX CREDIT?

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, while retaining its historic character.

From the NY State Historic Preservation Office-issued “Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Tax Credit Application”:

Eligible expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Ceilings
  • Chimneys
  • Components of central air conditioning or heating systems
  • Electrical wiring and lighting fixtures
  • Elevators, sprinkler systems, fire escapes
  • Finishes [interior and exterior]
  • Floors
  • Kitchen and bathroom cabinets
  • Labor done by hired professionals
  • Masonry repairs
  • Partitions
  • Permanent coverings, such as paneling or tiles
  • Plumbing and plumbing fixtures
  • Soft costs [architect and engineering fees, permit fees]
  • Stairs
  • Walls
  • Windows and doors

Ineligible expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Appliances [window air conditioning units, refrigerators, etc]
  • Decks [not part of original building]
  • Demolition costs [removal of a building on property site]
  • New construction costs or enlargement costs [increase in total volume]
  • Fencing
  • Furniture
  • Insurance costs
  • Labor done by homeowner
  • Landscaping
  • Leasing expenses
  • Outdoor lighting remote from building
  • Parking lot
  • Paving
  • Planters
  • Porches and porticos [not part of existing original building]
  • Retaining walls
  • Rubbish removal
  • Sidewalks
  • Signage
  • Storm sewer construction costs
  • Window treatments
  • Work performed in rental units if the building is a multifamily residence
  • Work performed outside the building footprint

Additional questions about eligible would should be directed to Clinton Brown Company Architecture or the NY State Historic Preservation Office.


IF I SPEND $10,000 ON MY HISTORIC HOME, WHAT IS MY POTENTIAL TAX CREDIT OR REFUND?

Owners of their primary residence that is a certified historic property in an eligible census tract who undertake approved improvements are eligible for a 20% state tax credit on the costs of those improvements.

The chart below is helpful in estimating your potential state tax credit for approved improvements. Your credit will be based on the total costs of your improvements and the portion of those improvements that are eligible expenses.

Approved Costs Required Exterior Credit Actual Cost
$5,000* $250 $1,000 $4,000
$7,500 $375 $1,500 $6,000
$10,000 $500 $2,000 $8,000
$12,500 $625 $2,500 $10,000
$15,000 $750 $3,000 $12,000
$20,000 $1,000 $4,000 $16,000
$30,000 $1,500 $6,000 $24,000
$40,000 $2,00 $8,000 $32,000
$50,000 $2,500 $10,000 $40,000
$75,000 $3,750 $15,000 $60,000
$100,000 $5,000 $20,000 $80,000
$150,000 $7,500 $30,000 $120,000
$200,000 $10,000 $40,000 $160,000
$250,000 $12,500 $50,000 $200,000

* The minimum expenditure to qualify for the NY Rehabilitation Tax Credit is $5,000 of approved improvements to be completed within one year. This information is to be submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office by the homeowner on the “Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Tax Credit Application.” A downloadable copy is available at the online RANHDI Document Library.


ARE PAST IMPROVEMENTS RETROACTIVELY ELIGIBLE FOR THE REHABILITATION TAX CREDIT?

No, past improvements to your historic home are not eligible for the tax credit. To be eligible for inclusion in your tax credit application, appropriate work must be pre-approved by staff at the State Historic Preservation Office as you present it in your “Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Tax Credit Application.”

The NY Rehabilitation Tax Credit as it was signed into law in the Summer of 2009 and made active on January 1, 2010, will require an extension to remain active on December 31, 2014. Because of this time frame, the RANHDI Community Council was formed to efficiently guide the National Register nomination process to help achieve adequate time for homeowners to apply for the tax credit.

(Please contribute generously to the Richmond Elmwood National Register Historic District to bring these economic benefits to our neighborhood…)


CAN YOU RECOMMEND ARCHITECTS AND CONTRACTORS EXPERIENCED IN WORKING ON HISTORIC BUILDINGS?

Yes, please contact Kenneth A. Rogers, Chair of the RANHDI Community Council for more information.


I HAVE A BUSINESS IN THE ELMWOOD VILLAGE AND AM ELIGIBLE FOR A MAIN STREET GRANT TO FIX UP MY BUILDING. HOW WILL THIS DESIGNATION AFFECT MY BUSINESS?

1. Under the NY Main Street grant program, the building alterations proposed by an Elmwood building owner will be reviewed by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The historic designation (National Register or not) does not matter in this case. The SHPO has to determine if the building is eligible or not. Even if it is not an eligible building (e.g. not over 50 years old, a storefront was added, other non-contributing), SHPO will provide a consultation on the alternatives and appropriate treatments if the proposed project goes against the nature of the streets, buildings and local environment.

2. In the Historic District or the eligible district, or the Main Street funding district, if a business decides not to use State or Federal funding and/or get the State tax credit (opt out – pay for everything themselves) they will not have to submit an application to OPRHP for their work. There is therefore no impact.


HOW CAN I CONTRIBUTE TO RANHDI TO BRING THE ECONOMIC BENEFIT OF THE REHABILITATION TAX CREDIT TO ME AND MY NEIGHBORS?

Contribute money and time. This is a neighborhood-driven initiative. The 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 who own homes and businesses through financial contributions and written letters and cards of support. 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.

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 are needed 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.

Please download this Contribution Form, print, fill-out and mail with your tax-deductible, contribution check made out to St. John’s-Grace Episcopal Church, memo line RANHDI.

Mail to:
RANHDI Community Council
St. John’s-Grace Episcopal Church
51 Colonial CircleBuffalo, NY 14222

All contributed funds are used for the costs of communicating with nearly 2,000 stakeholders, fundraising, and the professional preservation services to successfully nominate over 1,600 properties to the National Register of Historic Places. No funds go to church operations, and the RANHDI Community Council oversees all contributions and expenditures.

Go to our I Support RANHDI! page, fill out your contact information, indicate your support, then hit Submit and your E-Support Card is sent!


CAN I JOIN THE RANHDI COMMUNITY COUNCIL?

Yes, please join us! The RANHDI Community Council is a volunteer group of property owners, residents, community leaders, representatives from St. John’s-Grace Episcopal Church and from the offices of several elected officials.

The RANHDI Community Council meets monthly or as-necessary and welcomes your participation. Please contact the RANHDI Community Council for more information.


I HAVE ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS, WHO DO I CONTACT FOR MORE INFORMATION?

You may have questions about RANHDI. We are happy to answer them. Please see our Contact page to determine the best place to direct your question, or simply contact Kenneth A. Rogers, Chair of the RANHDI Community Council at ranhdi@gmail.com.

© Clinton Brown Company Architecture, 2012

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