Tales from the Tread: Designation for preservation
May is National Preservation Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the nation’s heritage through historic places. In communities across the nation, including Steamboat Springs, Preservation Month is a time to highlight the many benefits to retaining and cherishing historic buildings.
Historic buildings contribute to neighborhood livability, variety and vitality. They reduce negative impacts on the environment and yield economic rewards for both the community and property owners.
Historic designations are a tool to help identify, guide and celebrate unique buildings and landmarks in a community. Designation, or listing on a historic register, is an important step in retaining information about sites, as well as contributing to the preservation of the building.
There are four different levels of historic designations: national, state, county and local. Each level has its own documentation and qualification criteria (although with much overlap), and the documentation report provides the architectural style and historical background.
The Routt County, State and National Register listings are honorary, not regulatory, meaning ultimately the building listing does not provide protections from demolition or severe changes that could affect historic integrity. The Steamboat Springs local register provides regulatory protections for significant historic buildings or landmarks.
The city’s Historic Preservation Commission acts as the governing authority for the local Steamboat Springs register, and reviews and awards designations. With local designation, the owner can also apply for tax credits and incentives to help offset historic preservation project costs. The local register allows the community to identify their most unique places and apply resources and attention to retaining significant buildings.
To date, 28 buildings and sites have been listed on the Steamboat Springs Registers of Historic Resources and Landmarks, which were established in 2009. There are so many more notable buildings, landmarks, stories, and shared history to be celebrated and protected through listing on these registers.
Here are some other significant benefits of historic preservation and designation to help encourage property owners and communities.
Historic designations increase property values
Numerous studies conducted in Colorado over the last 30 years clearly demonstrate that historic register designations and districts add to property values. Property value appreciation rates in historic districts exceed 100% or double, compared to non-historic properties, showing that historic designations often increase desirability of the property and the neighborhood as a whole.
Historic designation allows changes and flexibility
“Adaptive reuse” is a cornerstone of historic preservation practice. Adaptive reuse is the process of reusing an existing building for a purpose other than its original design or development use.
The old YVEA building, now known as 910 Yampa, in Steamboat Springs, is a great example of adaptive reuse. Communities and individuals need change, and buildings need to adapt as well. Owners of designated historic structures can and do make significant changes to their structures (inside and out).
Preservation practices and guidelines, such as the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, have been developed to guide and manage changes in order to retain appropriate character-defining elements so the resource doesn’t become unrecognizable and to help retain historic integrity. Using the guidelines, new additions that are compatible and distinguishable from the historic portion are acceptable, and replacements are allowed.
Applying for historic designation can be easy and beneficial
We are here to help! Resources, guides and staff are available to assist you. Steamboat Springs’ historic design guidelines and other resources are available through the city’s website. Historic Routt County specializes in historic designations, grant leverage and incentive programs, and can help you research your historic property.
If you own a historic property, we hope you will reach out to designate your special resource. Historic properties can be adapted, remodeled and enlarged to meet contemporary lifestyles and needs, and significant tax credits are available to assist owners with costs meeting applicable guidelines and review. Established, authentic character is a highly sought after, limited and non-replicable resource that contributes to the value of the historic property and the entire community.
For more about the Tread of Pioneers Museum, go to TreadOfPioneers.org.
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