On October 4th, 2018, a significant portion of downtown Lewiston was added to the National Register of Historic Places as The Lewiston Commercial Historic District. This designation recognizes the historical and architectural significance that downtown Lisbon Street and Main St have had on the past, present, and future of Lewiston.
The creation of the historic district incentivizes investment and economic growth in downtown by allowing rehabilitation of most historic buildings to take advantage of the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program. This program encourages private sector investment in the rehabilitation and re-use of historic buildings. It creates jobs and is one of the nation’s most successful and cost-effective community revitalization programs.
The new historic district in Lewiston designates over 80 properties as contributing structures to the district, and allows current building owners or new investors to potentially take advantage of the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program.
Below are some common questions that have been asked about Historic District Designation and Historic Tax Credits. The answers provided are intended to be extremely simplified to give basic information. Persons interested in more complete information need to contact the Maine Historic Preservation Commission’s office http://www.maine.gov/mhpc/tax_incentives/ and The National Park Service https://www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives/before-you-apply.htm
The credits are based on the amount spent on the rehabilitation of a historic building (i.e. $100,000 in qualified rehab expenses could yield $20,000 in federal historic tax credits and $25,000 in state historic tax credits).
However, this is a complex program with a three-part application and review process with overlapping IRS and National Park Service rules and regulations that must be met in order to qualify. All potential applicants are advised to contact The Maine Historic Preservation Commission’s office prior to beginning the application process or undertaking any demolition or rehab work. The NPS and MHPC websites offer far more information on the program.
From the National Register Bulletin How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation:
“A district possesses a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, or objects united historically or aesthetically by plan or physical development.”
Any building that is designated as “contributing” to the significance of the historic district may qualify for historic tax credits if:
-The building is used for income producing purposes
-Proposed rehabilitation work is in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation
-Proposed qualified rehab expenses exceed the threshold requirements
-All other program requirements are met
All potential applicants are advised to contact The Maine Historic Preservation Commission’s office prior to beginning the application process or undertaking any demolition or rehab work. The NPS and MHPC websites offer far more information on the program.
-Properties that are designated as “non-contributing” to the historic significance of a surrounding historic district are generally not eligible.
-Properties that are not used for income producing purposes are not eligible.
-Projects that do not incur the threshold requirement for rehab investment also do not qualify.
There may be other IRS tax code rules that would prevent individual property owners from using the historic tax credits, but this would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis through careful review of the IRS rules and regulations.
See the IRS rules and regulations for more information on this (https://www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives/before-apply/irs.htm).
-Potential eligibility for Historic Preservation Tax Credits for private property owners.
-Potential eligibility for grants if properties are owned by non-profits or municipal government.
The state and federal governments place no restrictions on property owners in historic districts as to what they can or cannot do to their buildings or properties unless federal funds or permitting are being used in a given project.
There are no additional taxes or fees charged by the federal or state government that Maine Historic Preservation Commission is aware of.