Since New York State introduced a historic homeowners tax credit program in 2005, a number of Rochester neighborhoods have taken advantage of it, including districts in the South Wedge, Maplewood, Browncroft, and the 19th Ward.
Now, the Landmark Society of Western New York is helping the Park Avenue neighborhood to do the same. If the neighborhood becomes a historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places, homeowners will qualify for a state tax credit equal to 20 percent of approved repairs and upgrades to their property.
"You've got to spend money on your house anyway so if you can get money back, who wouldn't want that?” said Caitlin Meives, preservation planner at the Landmark Society. “It encourages folks to maintain the historic character of their neighborhoods and that's what makes the neighborhoods economically valuable and desirable, so it's a win-win all around."
The well-preserved and rich architecture of the Park Avenue neighborhood makes it an obvious choice for a historic district, Meives said. "The Park Avenue neighborhood is one of the most intact neighborhoods in the city. It has always carried that cache of being associated with its neighbor to the north, East Avenue.”
Homeowners are being asked to contribute to the $50,000 cost of the application process, which requires research and documentation of each of the more than 1,500 properties in the district. Half of that amount has already been secured through grants from the Rochester Area Community Foundation, Preservation League of New York State and the Robert David Lion Foundation.
Tom Pastecki, president of the ABC Streets Neighborhood Association, said it's an easy ask because homeowners will get money back when they make home improvements,
"It's good for the value of our homes, too. People want to be in (and move to) historic districts with well-maintained homes."
There is a public information meeting on Tuesday, October 24 at the East Avenue Wegmans.