State Historic Preservation Office features College Hill’s 1919 firehouse as an example of using tax credits for rehabilitation

One of the old firehouses on South Mendenhall Street is highlighted in the latest newsletter from the State Historic Preservation Office as an example of historic rehabilitation facilitated by the use of state and federal tax credits. It stands at 442 S. Mendenhall Street. The building was once known as Greensboro Fire Station No. 5 and earlier as the West End Hose Company. It replaced an older firehouse half a block away, now the home of Firehouse Grocery.

This 1919 fire station was erected within the College Hill Historic District to house one of the city’s new motorized fire trucks first put into service in 1913. It served as the second home of Fire Station No. 5 until it moved to a new, much larger facility in 1964. The station was then converted into a residence, and this 2018 rehabilitation continues its use as a single-family residence. This project was spurred by the use of the federal and state historic income-producing tax credits with a private investment rehabilitation cost of $144,000.

— “Worth Saving,” the SHPO’s quarterly newsletter

Click here to see the entire newsletter.

About historic tax credits

Tax credits are available for two types of structures — owner-occupied and income-producing. Homeowners can apply for a 15 percent state tax credit on up to $150,000 in expenses ($10,000 minimum) on qualified rehabilitation projects for the home they occupy. Houses are eligible if they’re on the National Register of Historic Places or are contributing structures in National Register historic districts (College Hill is a National Register historic district). The work must meet The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The SHPO decides whether projects qualify for tax credits. It’s complicated, so homeowners should consult with the agency before beginning work.

Owners of income-producing properties can apply for both a 20 percent federal tax credit and a 15 percent state tax credit on qualifying, “substantial” rehabilitation projects. The SHPO is the gate-keeper on these, too, and should be consulted in advance of any work because, just like with owner-occupied projects, there are a million ways to go wrong and possibly not qualify.

At the state level, historic rehabilitation tax credits have been a political pinata for several years. They currently have a sunset date of January 1, 2023, but they could disappear at the drop of a Republican hat any time the Legislature is in session. So the first step is always to make sure they still exist.

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