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PRIDE - AND GOVERNMENT INCENTIVES - Help Fuel Renovation of Historic Chicago Homes!



Chicago is a city of many historic homes and commercial buildings.  Those who have taken the steps to restore their properties to their original glory, and now live in them as their own homes, are often glad they completed their restorations.


Beginning in the late 1990’s, Daniel Aucunas began the restoration of his newly-acquired, century-old Queen Anne-styled home in the Kenwood Neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.  His two-staged renovation process, finally completed in 2006, totaled $570,000. 


Aucunas completely refinished and repaired original hardwood floors, stripped paint from vintage wood trim, replaced five art glass windows, refurbished and replaced original ornamental ironwork, and pressure washed exterior masonry.


The investment of the Aucunas family was effectively reduced somewhat by the money they saved through an eight-year freeze on the assessed value of the property, through the Tax Assessment Freeze Program administered by the State of Illinois.   (After the eight-year period expires, the assessed value gradually increases to current market levels).


"If you look at it 10 years later, your tax bill is pretty reasonable," said Aucunas, who may be applying for additional financial assistance money in the near future.


Real Estate Tax Incentives, along with other types of financial assistance, is available from Federal, State, and Local Governments to owners of older, potentially-historic homes and certain commercial buildings that comply with certain guidelines. 


Requirements can include that the subject properties be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, contribute to a historic or landmark district, be identified as a local landmark, or designated by an approved local historic preservation ordinance.

Kenwood, where Aucunas lives and restores other historic homes, is on the National Register and is a Chicago Landmark District.


Homeowners wishing to qualify for most of the incentive programs can find the process somewhat burdensome, and costly!  Strict guidelines are in place for materials to be used, construction methods, and non-variance of the original floor plan add cost, and may scare away owners who wish to update the house’s original layout to one more contemporary.


At least 25 percent of the market value of the property must be invested in repairs and renovation, and it must meet U.S. Department of the Interior Standards for rehabilitation of historic homes and buildings.


Architect’s plans and photos must be submitted to state or local agencies for approval before work can begin, and historic certification must be applied for within two years after completion of the work.


The City of Chicago has a number of programs to incentive those who renovate potentially-historic buildings.  In some cases, fees for building permits can be waived.  Chicago also  has it’s quite popular Historic Chicago Bungalow Initiative, as well as a separate program to restore the facades on historic commercial structures.


Cook County – the county in which the City of Chicago is located – offers a “Class L” incentive to those renovating landmark commercial, non-profit, and multi-family buildings. 


The rehab cost for these larger buildings must be at least 50 percent of the building's full market value to be eligible for the Class L designation. The buildings are then assessed at 16 percent of the fair market value for 10 years, 23 percent in the 11th year and 30 percent in the 12th.  For more information, check out this Information Sheet via the Cook County Assessor’s Office website.


Certain buildings in national or local historic districts can also qualify for a 20 percent Historic Preservation Tax Credit if they plan to spend more than the building's adjusted basis—the value of the building not including land value.  The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency oversees this program. 

This special credit used to renovate the Blackstone Hotel overlooking Grant Park in Downtown Chicago, and is being used for the Carson, Pirie Scott Building on State and Madison Streets in the Chicago Loop, as well as the old Otis Elevator Company building at 1435 W. 15th Street on the South Side of Chicago.


Read Janice Neumann’s article in the July 6th edition of The Chicago Tribune for more info.


Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2008 12:22 PM by Dean's Team

Comments said:

Good Morning! Considering renovating a historic home in Chicago? Several government incentive programs

# July 13, 2008 9:51 PM
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