Darren Forgy of Prairie Engineers was asked to review the reason
Lincoln has established the Historic Preservation Commission. Forgy
began with the grant application that the city submitted to the
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in 2010 and
was approved in 2011 to redevelop downtown Lincoln.
The grant set in motion the steps necessary for redevelopment,
including a comprehensive plan. Two steps were then taken: first, a
redevelopment plan for the historic downtown district, and then a
revitalization plan for the area, defining the steps that will
Redevelopment and revitalization require defining what a historic
resource is and then stating the goals of the Historic Preservation
Commission. Basically, a historic resource is a building or space
that defines the unique nature of Lincoln.
In the past, the historic connections of the city to Abraham
Lincoln and to Route 66 have been examples that set the city apart.
They are connections that can be used to draw tourists and new
business along with the economic benefits those would provide.
The goals of the Historic Preservation Commission are (1)
identification of historic characteristics, (2) promotion of civic
pride, (3) stabilization of Lincoln's landmarks and historic area,
(4) protecting and enhancing the city to attract business, and
thereby increasing economic benefits to the city and its residents,
and (5) encouraging preservation and restoration of structures and
In order to achieve these goals, the Historic Preservation
Commission needs to apply for Certified Local Government status from
the state of Illinois.
Benefits from this status would flow to the owners of the
downtown property. One of the benefits is a 20 percent federal tax
credit on historic structures that are properly rehabilitated.
Property owners may also be eligible for the state's Property Tax
Assessment Freeze Program.
While much of the discussion at the meeting concerned the
historic downtown business district, Ron Keller was quick to point
out that the Historic Preservation Commission represents the entire
city of Lincoln. "Historic and architecturally significant buildings
are located all over Lincoln," he said.
In order for a district such as downtown Lincoln to achieve
historic status, 51 percent of the property owners have to agree to
"That process is ongoing," Forgy said. "The work of finding the
owners of the downtown property and then sending them the
explanation and paperwork to be included in the historic district
will take some time."
Several owners have already responded.
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Once the district has been established, all building permits for
those structures within the historic district would have to be
vetted by the commission for appropriateness. Structural historic
items could not be altered. Keller pointed out that the commission
would not overreach its mandate to preserve the historic nature of
buildings. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency would be
consulted to determine if a proposed project would preserve the
historic nature of downtown.
The commission has set forth criteria for designating historic
districts and historic landmarks, which are two different entities.
The number of buildings in a proposed historic district, as well
as contiguous properties, and current historic integrity, are of
primary importance in designating a historic district.
A historic landmark must have significant value as part of the
characteristics of the community. Identification with a historic
individual, such as a politician or architect or builder, is another
of the criteria for landmark status.
Areas within the city, as well as a unique structure, would also
be used for the determination.
After discussing the benefits of the existence of the Historic
Preservation Commission, permanent officers were elected. April
Doolin agreed to serve as chair, with Mike Fak as vice chair and
Bill Vineyard as secretary. Meetings going forward will be in the
council chambers of City Hall on the third Thursday of each month at
6 p.m. The next meeting will be on July 18.
City residents interested in the commission mandate can obtain
several documents from Darren Forgy of Prairie Engineers. Downtown
property owners should also contact Forgy to obtain the forms needed
to be included in the downtown historic district. The sooner the
district is established, the sooner the benefits can begin to flow
to the city of Lincoln and its residents.
Letter to property owners