First on the agenda was a review of the reason for designating
downtown Lincoln as a historic district.
The historic preservation
ordinance recently passed by the city allows for districts or
structures of significance to become landmarked with the city of
Lincoln. The downtown area is already on the National Register as a
historic district. The locally recognized district being worked on
has the same boundaries as the long-established national
recognition. The new, local register district would offer further
benefits to the city and to property owners.
With the current focus of the city council on the restoration and
improvement of downtown Lincoln, the designation of the area as a
historic district would protect and enhance the historic buildings
and landmarks, as well as allow for the city to apply for more
grants for the area.
On the owner side, research has shown that historic landmarks and
districts rise in property value faster than normal property values.
Also, a well-maintained historic district could expect to attract
new residents to Lincoln as well as tourists. The city of Pontiac is
a prime example of how this concept can benefit the entire
community. That community, much like Lincoln in size and similar in
heritage, is enjoying success after doing the same steps now laid
out for Lincoln.
There are also benefits to home and business owners. Certified
structures that are properly rehabilitated may qualify for a 20
percent rehabilitation tax credit from the federal government.
Tina Warfel of Prairie Engineers reported to the preservation
commission that all of the owners of property within the proposed
historic district had received a packet of information asking for
their feedback about whether they would consider joining the
historic district. Warfel said that 70 percent of the 150 packets
were hand-delivered to the property owners who reside locally. Some
property owners live outside of Lincoln and several are
So far, 32 responses had been received, with 28 agreeing to join
the district and four sending a negative response. Those responding
negatively still had some questions about what impact joining the
district would have on their property rights. The preservation
commission is working to respond to all questions.
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Doolin was quick to point out that the intent of the district is
to enhance the property without interfering with personal choices
concerning property. The historic district is put in place to
safeguard the historic structures, not interfere with personal
In order for the historic district to be formed, 51 percent of
the properties must be pledged. Each property has a property tax ID
that can be voted to be included in the historic preservation
district. Some property owners, such as downtown businessman David
Lanterman, own multiple properties. Lanterman would vote each piece
of property separately in the count toward 51 percent.
In other business, there was a discussion on the design of
plaques that would be placed on the buildings that receive landmark
status. While some signs were distributed in the 1980s that
designated historic buildings, there was no official entity behind
the signs. The new ones would have a date and "Lincoln Historic
Preservation Commission" embossed on the plaque.
Lincoln businesses and homeowners can request nomination by
submitting an application to the Historic Preservation Commission.
The applications are available at the building code enforcement
office at City Hall.
The preservation commission was formed by the city council and is
a part of city government. The commission is also interested in
structures of architectural significance in order to highlight them
and preserve them for future generations.
After the meeting, Doolin explained further that homes and
structures that are landmarked with the city today will be protected
and have statewide recognition. As an added benefit, "landmarked
homeowners have the opportunity to leverage the assistance of the
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency when researching their home's
history and architecture," Doolin said.
The next meeting of the Lincoln Historic Preservation Commission
will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Lincoln City Council chambers.
[By CURT FOX / LDN]