Historic Albany is working with Preservation Consultant Chris Brazee to create Albany’s newest National Register historic district celebrating the city’s western gateway into the downtown. The proposed Washington Avenue Corridor Historic District will focus on Washington Avenue from South Swan Street to North Lake Avenue and will include previously missed properties between the new district and the existing historic districts on South Swan Street, Lark Street, and South Lake Avenue, as well as a portion of Western Avenue, Bradford and West Streets.
Proposed District Boundaries
Why a new district?
Historic Albany is continually working to create new historic districts in Albany, both local and National Register. Listing as a historic district or individual landmark recognizes the historic and/or architectural importance of a building, group of buildings, site(s) or landscape. It has been documented to be a stabilizing factor on neighborhoods, increase the sense of place and property value. Most importantly for property owners, listing makes historic properties eligible for tax incentives through the City of Albany, New York State, and the federal government. It offers a layer of protection from inappropriate development at different levels depending on whether the district is local, national, or both.
The proposed district is being proposed for listing on the National Register of Historic Places ONLY and should not be confused with local listing which has a different process. National Register listing offers benefits to the properties within without the oversight and additional review that local listing brings. That is not to say that local listing is negative. It is a benefit for property owners in that it sets a bar for maintenance and building treatment which protects the character of a neighborhood, while also bringing another layer of tax incentives.
The difference between local and national listing can be confusing. Click here to check out a bulletin to compare the different types of districts and understand the differences.
What does listing on the National Register mean?
National Register listing is honorific recognition of a group of buildings, sites, landscapes that have historic or architectural importance. Most importantly, buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places are eligible for the Federal and New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credits.* The Rehabilitation Tax Credits are the best incentive for investors and homeowners to rehab and improve historic buildings and are often the gap filler in a projects funding stream.
*The federal tax credits require that the historic district or individual landmark be in an economically distressed census tract. In Albany, all National Register historic districts are in economically distressed census tracts with the exception of the Rapp Road Historic District.
National Register listing also requires that any project utilizing state or federal funding be reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office to ensure no harm will be done to the historic district’s buildings or an individual landmark. This may be a state or municipal project or a private project which will utilize state or federal funds. For example, a DOT project would require review as would a project accepting tax credits.
More information about the National Register of Historic Places can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/index.htm
More information about the New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credit (20% of rehabilitation costs) can be found here: https://parks.ny.gov/shpo/tax-credit-programs/
More information about the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit (20% of the rehabilitation costs) can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives.htm
Buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places DO NOT need state or federal approval for any work on the property, including demolition, UNLESS state or federal funds are used for that project. Listing DOES NOT put any restrictions on what can or cannot be done to a property. It DOES NOT increase your taxes. It DOES NOT affect your insurance.
Do property owners have a voice in the designation process?
Yes! Property owners are invited to a public meeting to discuss the nomination and for SHPO to answer any questions regarding listing, the nomination, etc. They are also welcome to send letters to the State Historic Preservation Office. Opposition must be voiced in writing for it to be included in the nomination. All written support or opposition may be addressed to:
New York State Division for Historic Preservation
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation
Peebles Island State
Park P.O. Box 189
Waterford, NY 12188-0189