RDA adds endorsement to downtown historic district

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The Redevelopment Authority added its endorsement Thursday to the proposed creation of a historic district for downtown Plymouth.

The RDA unanimously recommended that the downtown historical district be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

RDA Chair Lee Gentine and City Administrator Brian Yerges reported on a recent information meeting on the proposal for downtown business and property owners.

“Nobody has come back to me since the meeting and said, ‘I’m really opposed to it,’” Gentine told the group.

“The subject came up at the DPA (Downtown Plymouth Association) meeting and there was no opposition, there was no dissent whatsoever,” RDA member Carole O’Malley added.

“It’s really an honorary designation that doesn’t put any restrictions on local businesses,” Yerges pointed out. He added that many people get it confused with local historic districts that have been created in some municipalities that place restrictions on remodeling and renovation projects.

The National Register designation has no such rules, Yerges emphasized. What it does is make included properties eligible for federal and state tax credits – up to 20 percent each – for projects that are approved by state and federal historical renovation experts.

“It’s only when you apply (for the tax credit) that you have to submit drawings and plans,” Gentine pointed out.

Otherwise, there are no restrictions or limitations within the district, he added.

“This is basically another economic tool or financial incentive,” Yerges said.

He noted that the only property in the city, the 52 Stafford bed and breakfast, has utilized the federal tax credit under the National Register, and that was a number of years ago.

“The process is much more cumbersome and lengthy for a single property,” than for those in a registered district, according to Yerges.

He went on to say that the historic district designation could aid the city in finding a buyer for the vacant property at 133 E. Mill St., which the city currently owns.

Having the tax credit available could make purchase and rehabilitation of the building much more attractive and affordable for a potential buyer.

Yerges also said a historic district could be created in residential areas of the city as well, which could provide a financial incentive to restore and maintain historic homes.

“If I were trying to sell a downtown building, I would want my property located in a historic district and eligible for federal and state tax credits,” Yerges commented.

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