Apply for Historic Preservation
The preservation of historic properties ensures that the City of Clearwater’s unique character and identity are maintained. Historic preservation provides a connection to the past and reminds us that buildings have stories to tell. They provide a link to the experiences, values, and events of those who came before us, which in turn gives us a better understanding of who we are. Historic preservation is a tool that can develop community pride, revitalize neighborhoods and downtowns, spur economic development, promote tourism, and educate community residents about their shared heritage. Historic preservation leads to civic improvement and many communities, such as the City of Clearwater, utilize historic preservation to protect important existing historic properties and chart a path for maintaining them.
Benefits of Historic Preservation
The preservation of historic properties can provide benefits and incentives to both individual owners and the community. Designating a historic property or district, both locally or in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), is a prestigious honor and officially recognizes the historic or architectural significance of the property. Economic incentives can also result from designating a property or district. In most instances, the designation of a historic property or district improves marketability, increases property values, and allows access to financial incentives.
Recent studies commissioned by the Florida Department of State found that property values in the majority of designated historic districts increased greater than in comparable non-historic neighborhoods. Furthermore, income-producing properties (i.e. commercial buildings, apartment buildings) that are listed in the NRHP may be eligible for a 20% Federal Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit (RITC) for costs invested in renovation and rehabilitation. These tax incentives reward private investment in rehabilitating historic properties.
The National Register of Historic Places
The NRHP is the official list of the country’s significant historic properties which merit recognition and designation. The NRHP contributes to an understanding of the many historical and cultural foundations of the Nation, and includes a wide variety of resources from Native American sites to simple worker housing to grand mansions. To be eligible for listing in the NRHP, the property must be 50 years or older, possess historic significance, and maintain its historic physical integrity.
Once a property is listed in the NRHP, there are no restrictions placed on the property for private owners using private monies. The Old Pinellas County Courthouse and the Cleveland Street Post Office are examples of NRHP-listed buildings within the City of Clearwater.
The City of Clearwater Local Register
The City of Clearwater Local Register is similar to the NRHP, and promotes the identification, preservation, and protection of Clearwater’s important historic, architectural, and archaeological heritage. Any property owner can initiate or submit the report to nominate their property for local designation. Once local designation is approved, a historical marker or sign commemorating the significance of the property may be erected. Consideration for local designation depends upon the historic property or the majority of the resources in a district being built before 1940. The property or district must:
- Be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad pattern of city, state, or national history, or
- Be associated with the lives of persons significant in the history, or
- Possess distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction, or the representation of the work of a master, or the possession of artistic values, or
- Yield or may be likely to yield information important in prehistory or history
The City of Clearwater has established standards for approving changes to properties that have been locally designated. The City requires a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) to physically alter, demolish, or relocate a locally designated historic property. Furthermore, the construction of a new building or structure on a locally designated historic property, or the removal, destruction, or disturbance of a locally designated archaeological site also requires a COA. The COA process is designed to assist historic property owners in the development of appropriate plans and designs that are sensitive and compatible to the historic character of the property or district. To this end, no building or demolition permits for any of the abovementioned projects will be issued to any locally designated historic properties without the approval of a COA. However, a COA is not required of any property owner to perform ordinary maintenance or to make any changes deemed necessary by building officials to protect the public from unsafe conditions.