STARKVILLE — Downtown building owners could soon have incentives to renovate their properties.
The Starkville Central Neighborhood Foundation is more than a year into the process of applying for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and hopes to learn soon if downtown is eligible.
Federal tax credits of up to 20 percent and state credits of up to 25 percent hinge on the nomination. State and federal tax credits can be combined.
Monday, the Starkville Historic Preservation Commission will have an information session on national registry status at the building department at City Hall. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m., and all downtown stakeholders are encouraged to attend.
Representatives from the foundation, the Starkville Main Street Association and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History will be on hand to explain the tax incentives for eligible buildings.
Foundation president Kathleen Hamby said the meeting is an ideal time to clear up any misconceptions about the registry and the establishment of a local historic district, which could set special building codes.
The commission hosted a similar presentation on registry benefits and guidelines in November.
“This is not a requirement, but by having this (national registry), it gives downtown owners an option,” Hamby said. “We’re not trying to persuade the business owners to do what we think is best. For the city, it would also give us a chance to promote and preserve the history of our area.”
In August, Mississippi Heritage Trust Executive Director David Preziosi did an assessment of which downtown buildings would be “contributing” and “non-contributing” under the national registry.
More than 140 buildings are considered for the national registry.
The boundaries of the surveyed area stretch from Rosey Baby on South Jackson Street to the intersection of North Lafayette Street and Highway 182. The area also begins at the 100 block of East Main Street and ends at the 200 block of West Main Street.
Buildings eligible for the federal 20 percent tax credit must be certified by the National Park Service and meet interior and exterior standards set by the Secretary of the Interior.
A “certified historic structure” contributes to the district’s overall look and would be the only type of building eligible for the 20 percent credit. Nonhistoric structures built before 1936 that will be used to generate revenue are eligible for a 10 percent credit. Rehabilitation to the property, in either case, must be substantial.
Nonhistoric buildings have to meet a list of registry criteria to earn the designation.
Either tax credit will apply only to commercial, industrial or apartment buildings — revenue-generating locations — and meet basic IRS tax requirements.
A 25 percent state tax credit, established in 2006, is available for both revenue-generating and nonrevenue generating buildings. Eligible properties must listed in the national registry, contribute to the significance of a historic district or be a designated state landmark.
“As far as the local district, the advantages are that it would help with tourism, which helps with sales for retail merchants,” said Tom Walker, commission member. “You help the visibility of Starkville.”
Cities with historic preservation commissions typically establish local districts and create a new set of codes building owners must comply with. Walker said any variance would have to be granted by the commission.
“Just like any homeowner,” Walker said, “you make sure what one person wants to do doesn’t affect anyone else. But the main issue is to make sure all the property owners understand the implications.”
Downtown stakeholders would need a 51 percent vote to prevent downtown’s spot on the registry; otherwise, it will go into effect after the application is accepted.
Chris Chain of RMI Renovations in Columbus has done many tax credit rehabilitation jobs in downtown Columbus since 1986, when Columbus earned a spot on the registry. His projects include Cafe Aromas, Huck’s Place and facade restoration at Merchant’s Bank on Fifth Street South. He’s done similar jobs across the state.
Chain said the process of following national guidelines enforced by local districts “can be a hassle,” but the rewards are substantial.
“You see it everywhere across the state,” Chain said.
You can help your community
Quality, in-depth journalism is essential to a healthy community. The Dispatch brings you the most complete reporting and insightful commentary in the Golden Triangle, but we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider subscribing to our website for only $2.30 per week to help support local journalism and our community.