Jamestown Historic Districts Encourage Revitalization

The Wellman Building
The Wellman Building

One of the biggest challenges for Jamestown’s revitalization is the financial burden of renovating historic buildings. Grants and loan programs from the city, state, and foundations are available to help fill financial gaps however developers often need more support to sensitively restore older buildings and carry projects through to completion.

Beginning in 2013, the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation (JRC) worked closely with the City to formally nominate the downtown Jamestown commercial district for historic designation. By November 2014, the district consisted of over 100 downtown properties listed on both the State and National historic registers. The New York State (NYS) and Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit programs can be combined to cover 40% of qualified rehabilitation expenditures.

With the downtown historic district listed, JRC turned its sights to the Jamestown neighborhoods. Adding the designation of historic district to a neighborhood uniquely benefits our community, because unlike most states, NYS makes historic preservation tax credits available to homeowners. Guided by a 1993 city-wide intensive historical survey, several neighborhoods stood out for possible nomination. At the top of the list was the Lakeview Avenue and Forest Height’s neighborhoods. The Lakeview Avenue Historic District was created in 2015. This fall, the Forest Height’s Historic District will be added as Jamestown’s third Historic District. For homeowners located within a historic district, there is a 20% tax credit available from the NYS for qualified projects.

403 Lakeview Ave.
403 Lakeview Ave.

For the Downtown Jamestown Historic District securing the historical designation means most property owners can tap into historic preservation tax credits, one of the most lucrative and effective subsidies of recent years. The current federal and NYS tax credit programs have enabled much of the recent revitalization work in Buffalo and other parts of the state. Giving downtown Jamestown property owners access to this subsidy significantly increases the chances of renovation downtown, improves the quality of the downtown environment, and increases the inventory of available space. Over time, this stimulates demand, which brings new investments, rising rents, higher property values, a more stable financial picture for building owners, and a stronger tax base for the city. The Gokey, Key Bank and the Wellman Buildings, along with the Covenant Manor Apartments, are examples of those that have been able to take advantage of these tax credits.

The Lakeview Historic District is the first residential neighborhood in Jamestown to have been nominated. JRC worked with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to define the boundaries of the Lakeview district to be as broad as possible to encompass 200 property owners making them eligible for the tax credits. In just two years, a total of $88,000 has been invested in SHPO-approved improvements to eligible historic properties in this historic district. The property owners report that the SHPO staff was kind, understanding and helpful in the tax credit paperwork process.

11 Broadhead
11 Broadhead

The Forest Heights Historic District, with over 140 properties, is important to the historic development of Jamestown and contains a distinct mix of buildings in various architectural styles. Some properties in the neighborhood are individually listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, including the former home of Governor Reuben E. Fenton. Architectural styles in Forest Heights include Greek Revival, Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, and other vernacular types of structures.

“Jamestown has some unique and outstanding architecture that needs to be preserved,” says Mary Maxwell, JRC Neighborhood Project Director. “The JRC is eager to select the next neighborhood to nominate for historic district designation.”

JRC hopes these incentive will continue to assist the revitalization of important neighborhoods and prevent additional buildings from falling into disrepair or becoming vacant.

Want to know more about this program and how you may be able to take advantage of these renovation grants? Watch this mini tax credit workshop at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvKz6BlEAqE&feature=youtu.be

Still have questions about finalizing your homeowner historic tax credit application? Join us for our next tax credit webinar with Preserve Buffalo Niagara.

Zoom Tax Credit workshop is planned for Wednesday, August 12th
Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 6 PM – 7:30 PM
ATTENTION: To get to the webinar log-in details for the August 12th event, you must pre-register on our website. https://preservationbuffaloniagara.org/events/historic-tax-credit-webinar-august/
Once you’ve registered you’ll get the information needed to join in.