By Sallie James
Preserving the city’s history would be easier if owners of historic properties were eligible for federal tax credits. At least that’s the way the chairman of the city’s Historic Preservation Board sees it.
Rex Nichols is hoping City Council members will agree.
At a Dec. 8 workshop meeting, Nichols outlined a proposed amendment to the 1975-era ordinance that would provide that the city assist the board in pursuing Certified Local Government status. CLG status links federal, state and local government in a preservation partnership for the “dedication, evaluation and protection” of historic properties, Nichols said.
The program is administered by the National Park Service and State Historic Preservation Office.
“Dedication as a Certified Local Government makes preservation public policy,” Nichols told council members at the workshop.
• Identifying historic properties by assisting with surveys
• Evaluating existing properties and providing grants for restoration
• Funding for educational materials for the public describing what partnership opportunities are available
• Funding for promoting preservation
• Holding workshops and documentation for the National Registry programs and interested parties.
“The main benefits are funding — grants and tax incentives,” Nichols said.
Boynton Beach achieved CLG status in 2012 and the designation helped with dollars and recognition, said Warren Adams, historic preservation planner.
“Over the past two years, we’ve been approved for approximately $55,000 for the Historic Preservation education program,” Adams said. “The grants were especially good because they did not require any matching funds.”
Tax incentives have also been a boon.
“Because we are a CLG, we can offer the ad valorem tax incentive program,” he said. “That is an interlocal agreement with the county where we can offer tax incentives for pre-approved work for historic sites.”
Delray Beach also has CLG status.
The amended ordinance has already been reviewed by Boca Raton Deputy City Manager George Brown, staff and Development Services and the state of Florida, Nichols said.
The City Council now needs to give its approval.
The ordinance calls for a representative from the city to assist with the CLG. Nichols said a part-time worker or even an intern would likely to do the trick.
Possible historical preservations might include:
• Luff House/Palmetto Park residences
• Clarence H. Geist Memorial Drawbridge on Camino Real
• Boca Raton Air Field, T-buildings
• IBM buildings
• Boca Raton Road
• Spanish Village
• Numerous private residences and neighborhoods
Council member Robert Weinroth voiced concern about some of the potential sites, in particular the IBM buildings, noting that they might be situated in a location that someday would be slated for redevelopment.
Mayor Susan Haynie noted that the IBM buildings were designed by architect Marcel Breuer and have great historical significance.
Haynie supports historic preservation but said the city has to be fiscally responsible.
“My concern … is certainly not with the preservation aspect. We as a council are also very concerned about the fiscal impact on the community as far as personnel goes,” Haynie said. “We will work with staff, the Historical Society and our Historic Preservation Board.”
By Sallie James