Nationally recognized: City succeeds in bid for historic district designation - Brownsville Herald: Local News

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Nationally recognized: City succeeds in bid for historic district designation

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2019 9:39 pm

The Central Brownsville Historic District has been granted National Historic District status by the National Park Service.

In January, the Texas Historical Commission State Board of Review approved the city’s application to NPS in Brownsville’s bid to get the district added to the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the nation’s historic places deemed worthy of preservation.

The district’s official designation was awarded May 31.

The National Register, created by Congress in 1966, is part of a national program that coordinates and supports public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect the country’s historic and archeological treasures.

The designation means that owners of income-producing properties within the historic district who spend at least $5,000 fixing up their properties are entitled to a 20-percent federal tax credit as an incentive.

Property owners also have the option of applying for Texas Historic Landmark status, which if granted entitles them to an additional 20 percent in credits. Owners of property within the district are also eligible for a streamlined application process toward state designation.

Miriam Suarez, downtown district manager, said the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation is also providing incentives in the form of the Downtown Business Improvement & Growth Program, which offers grants to property owners for interior and exterior capital improvements, plus rent subsidies, for projects aimed at creating jobs and growing sales tax revenue.

BCIC has committed $200,000 over the next three years, said Suarez, a member of the program’s application review board.

“ We’ve already seen so much interest, we’ve already allocated one year’s worth of grants in like two and half months,” she said. “It’s going fast. We just hope the momentum continues and we keep that partnership with BCIC, because that’s what incentivizes all these property owners to want to invest now.”

Juan Velez, Brownsville historic preservation officer, also serves on the BCIC review board. There are more than 230 buildings in the district whose owners can take advantage of the 20-percent federal tax credit, but that it’s up to them to the pursue the state designation for further credits, he said.

To qualify for National Register status, at least 51 percent of a district’s structures have to be architecturally or historically significant. In Brownsville’s case, roughly 70 percent of the downtown district’s 346 buildings meet at least one of those standards, Velez said.

It’s the dream of every historic preservation officer to gain National Register status, he said, adding that it should signal to every Brownsville resident that they’re “really living in an outstanding city.”

The Central Brownsville Historic District is bordered by East Levee, East 10th, East Monroe, and East 14th and 15th streets, and includes a two-block extension along the 800 and 900 blocks of East Elizabeth Street.

Paul Lusigan, historian with the National Register program, said the city’s historic district meets National Register criteria in the categories of architecture, commerce, and community planning and development.

“ The district resources reflect the commercial growth of the historic townsite into a major regional center of trade and commerce,” he said.

Suarez said the new incentives are likely to accelerate the redevelopment of downtown, as more and more old buildings are being renovated and reopened as bars, restaurants, etc, adding that the new interest in downtown is coming from local and outside investors alike.

Velez said the city is just getting started with national historic designation, since there are almost certainly other parts of Brownsville that are eligible.

“ I love that it is just the first step,” he said. “We can add other historic districts into the National Register. We are very ambitious.”

The city is planning an official announcement of the news on Aug. 2 at City Hall.

Sclark@brownsvilleherald.com

Follow us on Facebook

Pet Central

pets

Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>

Fitness

Fitness

Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>

Crosswords

Crosswords

Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>

Sudoku

Sudoku

Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>




Online Features

Pet Central

pets

Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>

Fitness

Fitness

Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>

Crosswords

Crosswords

Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>

Sudoku

Sudoku

Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>