Tips for funding your bricks-and-mortar historic preservation project

By Anne Raines, Deputy Director, MHT

Our recent warm spell has been a welcome reminder that spring is just around the corner.  For those of us who are involved with historic buildings, spring means more than just crocuses and daffodils – it means repairs and maintenance!  Many historic property owners across the state are looking for funding this time of year, so MHT put together this primer on the basics of preservation funding for your bricks-and-mortar project.

FUNDING OPTIONS

MHT administers several grant and loan programs which assist what we refer to as “capital” (bricks-and-mortar) preservation activities.

  • MHT Historic Preservation Loan Program: The program provides low-interest loans for rehabilitation, acquisition, refinancing or predevelopment costs. MHT typically funds one to three projects a year for borrowers including nonprofit organizations, local governments, businesses and individuals, with preference given to projects with a high level of public benefit.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Key considerations: Loan amount will generally not exceed $300,000; property must be National Register listed or eligible for listing; conveyance of a perpetual preservation easement is required; business and individual applicants must demonstrate inability to secure funding on the private market.

Contact: Anne Raines, Deputy Director, MHT.

leeke-academy

Leeke Academy, in Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood, received MHT Loan Program, MHT Capital Grant Program, and MHAA funding for a complete restoration.

  • African American Heritage Preservation Program (AAHPP): The AAHPP provides grants for acquisition, rehabilitation, new construction, and certain predevelopment costs (such as architect’s or engineer’s fees) for projects related to African American heritage. Projects are not required to be designated as “historic”.  Applicants can include nonprofit organizations, local governments, businesses and individuals, with preference given to projects with a high level of public benefit.  Dollar-for-dollar match is required except for nonprofit applicants.  Application deadline is July 15.

Key considerations: Grant amount will not exceed $100,000 per project per year; if the assisted property is National Register listed or eligible for listing, then conveyance of a perpetual preservation easement is required.

Contact: (For technical preservation issues) Anne Raines, Deputy Director, MHT; (for project scope and purpose) Maya Davis, Interim Director, Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture.

kennard-school

Kennard School in Centreville received AAHPP, MHAA, and MHT Capital Grant funding and is now in use as a community center.

  • Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) Grants: Grants of up to $100,000, with a required one-to-one match of non-state support, are available for capital projects, which can include acquisition, development (repair or alteration of an existing building, structure or site; or new construction), rehabilitation, restoration, and pre-development costs. Projects must be related to heritage tourism and located within one of the state’s 13 Certified Heritage Areas.  Only nonprofit organizations and government entities are eligible to apply. An Intent to Apply form is due at the end of January.

Key considerations:  Due to the competitive nature of the program, grants for capital projects average $54,000; the conveyance of a perpetual preservation easement may be required on certain historic properties.

Contact:  Find your local heritage area contact using the map and links here: http://mht.maryland.gov/heritageareas.shtml. You can also contact Jen Ruffner, Maryland Heritage Areas Program.

  • Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) Loans: Loans are available to nonprofit organizations, local jurisdictions, individuals and businesses to assist with the preservation of heritage resources and the enhancement of heritage attractions and visitor services located within a Certified Heritage Area. Eligible activities include acquisition, development, rehabilitation, restoration, leasehold improvements, and purchase of equipment, furnishings, and inventory.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Key considerations:  The maximum loan commitment made for any specific project is limited by the available uncommitted balance of the MHAA Financing Fund.  Up to 50 percent of the total project cost will be provided based on an assessment of the applicant’s financial need.

Contact:  Jen Ruffner, Maryland Heritage Areas Program.

  • MHT Historic Preservation (Capital) Grant Program: After a long hiatus, we might be able to welcome the return of Capital Grant funding in FY2018.  The program provides grants to nonprofit organizations, local jurisdictions, individuals and businesses for acquisition, rehabilitation, and pre-development costs related to properties listed on or eligible for the National Register.  The conveyance of a perpetual preservation easement is required for all assisted projects.  Dollar-for-dollar match is required except for nonprofit applicants.  If funding for the program is provided, additional information about the application process will be available on our grants main page in May 2017.

In addition to these programs, we often direct our partners and constituents toward the following programs based on their project-specific needs:

Finally, MHT’s own handout on Potential Funding Sources for Heritage Preservation Projects, which has recently been updated, covers a range of options available from national and private sources.

PITCHING YOUR PROJECT TO FUNDERS

Now that we’ve identified some options for funding, the next step is to write an application.  In our grant workshops, we often provide a tip sheet for grant writing in general.  However, for this post we wanted to provide some additional insights about how to think through, develop, and explain a rehabilitation or construction project in the context of a grant or loan application.

First, it is important for you to be clear about the basic parameters of the project.

  • What kind of project are you undertaking? (Acquisition, refinancing, rehabilitation, new construction, predevelopment?)
  • What is the scope of the entire project from start to finish? (Is it as simple as a roof replacement, or is it a complicated multi-phase rehabilitation project costing many millions of dollars?)
  • What will the entire project cost? (You may need to hire an architect or project manager to help estimate costs for a very large project.  If you are undertaking a smaller project, we generally recommend that you obtain at least one price proposal in order to make an accurate grant application.)

Next, you need to determine what funding options are available to you.

  • What funding sources & resources are available for your specific project and applicant type?
  • Is it advantageous for your application to break down the project into phases and apply for each phase individually, as you are ready to undertake it?
  • Will you need more than one grant? Are you expecting multiple, sequential grants from the same program?  Funders always like to see that applicants are trying to secure funding from diverse sources – including their own fundraising.

Once you are writing a grant application, you will need to develop a clear scope of work – what are you including in the scope of this particular grant request?  What isn’t included?

  • Define a project that meaningfully relates to the grant amount: break it down. Typically a grant application will be more successful if it allows the completion of one discrete work item than if it provides for only partial progress toward one or more items.
  • Have a plan for how you will pay for any required matching funds and other costs that are necessary to complete the project. Funders want to know that you will be able to complete the whole project successfully.
  • Develop a meaningful and reasonable project schedule or timeline. What work can you reasonably accomplish within the specified grant performance period?  (Most grants are time-sensitive and have specific beginning and ending dates.)  According to your project timeline, are you READY for a grant?
  • Will your organization be able to manage the project (and the potential grant), or do you need to hire a project manager or architect? Know what expertise the project requires and assemble a strong project team.

Finally, convince the funder that they should fund you. Most funding programs are very competitive, and it is up to you to demonstrate that your project is important, and that it needs to happen NOW.

  • How do your goals reflect those of the funder? Don’t feel embarrassed to write about your larger goals and aspirations.
  • Be convincing about the significance and urgency of the project.
  • Review and understand the program’s selection criteria. Address them clearly and concisely!
  • Show your commitment to the project: how will it be sustained into the future? (How will you protect the investment that you are asking the funder to make?)
  • Show the funder that you have cultivated widespread support for your project from:
    • the community
    • your local, state, and federal representatives
    • any local, state, or federal agencies that may be involved
    • other organizations that may have similar goals

Now that you know what funding possibilities are out there, and you know what funders are looking for in an application, why not get started?  Can your project really wait another year?

sumner-lodge-may-24-001

Charles Sumner GAR Post #25 in Chestertown in 2001, before its rehabilitation using MHT Capital, AAHPP, and MHAA grant funds.

 

 

 

2016 Sustainable Communities Tax Credits Awarded

On November 16, 2015, the Maryland Historical Trust announced the recipients of the latest round of Sustainable Communities Tax Credits. State funds provided by this program will help create over 650 construction jobs in projects designed to revitalize communities and promote green building practices.

The Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Program and its predecessor, the Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit, has invested more than $370 million in Maryland revitalization projects since it began in 1996. The investments have helped restore more than 4,198 homeowner and 638 commercial historic structures, preserving buildings that contribute to the distinct character of Maryland’s towns, cities and rural areas. According to a study by the Abell Foundation, the program has helped to create more than 27,000 jobs through construction and new uses of these significant historic resources.

The six recipients are described below.

Hoen LithographHoen Lithograph, East Biddle Street Baltimore City
($3,000,000 in tax credits awarded)

Originally built in 1898 for the Bagby Furniture Company the site is most closely associated with the Hoen Lithograph Company which operated on the property from 1902 to 1981. Hoen, which was established in 1835, was the oldest continuously operating lithographer in the United States when it closed in 1981. The historic complex is being restored and converted to house a lively mixed use development featuring a food production kitchen, a brewery, office space for start-ups and non-profits and market rate apartments targeting healthcare workers.

Footer's Dye WorksFooter’s Dye Works, Howard Street, Cumberland, Allegany County
($1,875,000 in tax credits awarded)

Built in 1905, this building is an important remnant of the city’s industrial heritage. The Footer’s Dye Works functioned as one of the dominant cleaning and dyeing facilities in the mid-Atlantic region thru the first third of the 20th century. This structure will be restored and expanded to house a mix of rental housing units, a restaurant/brewery and commercial office space.

Hearn BuildingHearn Building, Race Street, Cambridge, Dorchester County
($959,034.40 in tax credits awarded)

Originally constructed as a commercial hardware store and later used as a furniture store this 1915 building is one of only a few large scale early 20th century commercial buildings surviving on the Eastern Shore. This significant building will be restored and repurposed to house rental residential apartments and retail spaces.

Saint Michael's Church ComplexSt. Michael’s Church Complex, East Lombard Street, Baltimore City
($2,861, 111.60 in tax credits awarded)

Constructed between 1850 and 1927 the St. Michael’s Church complex is a remarkably intact example of an historic urban religious campus. The church played a key role in the assimilation of German immigrants arriving in Baltimore and with its school and parish hall served as the social center of the parish. The now vacant complex will be restored with a mix of commercial uses occupying the former sanctuary building and parish hall and with other areas of the school and rectory being converted to rental residential apartments.

Academy SchoolAcademy School, Mill Street, Cambridge, Dorchester County
($287,500 in tax credits awarded)

This 1906 school building has been vacant and endangered for many years. The project will restore the exterior of the building and repurpose the historic classroom, library and office spaces for use as a senior living apartment building.

Sykesville HotelSykesville Hotel, Main Street, Sykesville, Carroll County
($58,000 in tax credits awarded)

This hotel was originally constructed in 1905 and remained in service as a hotel and restaurant until the 1920’s when it was converted to apartments. The renovation of the structure will restore the exterior of the building including the restoration of the siding, reopening of historic windows and doors and the reconstruction of the building’s missing porches.

WANTED: Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program Staff

Do you have an eye for detail?

Do you enjoy engaging with people?

Do you value historic buildings?

Melissa at Thomas Point Lighthouse

Former tax credit staff Melissa Archer at Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse.

If so, you might want to consider applying for a position with MHT!  We are currently hiring two new preservation officers to serve as rehabilitation tax credit program reviewers within MHT’s Office of Preservation Services (OPS).  These new MHT’ers will have unique opportunities to make a real difference in the preservation of buildings large and small across the state.  Check out the job posting here — the deadline to apply is September 22.

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Solar Panels and Tax Credits

By Melissa Archer, Preservation Officer

Summer is upon us, and with longer days and higher energy bills, many Marylanders are looking for ways to save money and conserve energy. With advancements in technology, government incentives and flexible leasing options, installation of photovoltaic systems are becoming more appealing and accessible. This summer the MHT blog will feature a series of posts exploring how historic preservation and green technology can work together. This first post will discuss how state historic tax credits can be used for solar energy projects.

The Sustainable Communities Tax Credit exists to promote the rehabilitation and reuse of commercial and residential historic structures across the state. What a lot of people don’t realize is that installation of mechanical systems, like HVAC, water heaters, etc. are eligible rehabilitation expenses that qualify for the 20% income tax credit. This includes systems that incorporate green technology, like geothermal and solar panels.

A parapet wall on a building's roof can conceal solar panels from the public right-of-way.

A parapet wall on a building’s roof can conceal solar panels from the public right-of-way.

This applies to both commercial and owner-occupied properties that are “certified” historic by MHT. To find out if your property qualifies, please check the program pages for details. In order for the expenditures to qualify for the credit, the system must be purchased rather than leased.

The work must also be consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. This means that the system must be compatible with the historic building, it must be reversible, and it must not destroy or conceal character-defining historic features.

How do you know if your solar project would qualify for historic tax credits? To determine if your project is eligible, you must submit an application to be reviewed by MHT prior to starting work. In the meantime, though, here are a few examples of situations in which historic tax credits may be an option:

Flat roofs can be used for solar infrastructure.

Flat roofs can be used for solar infrastructure.

1) Flat roofed structures

Properties with large, flat or gently-sloped roofs are ideal candidates for solar panels. In this situation, panels should be set back from the ends of the building so they are not visible from the public right of way. Roofs with parapet walls can also provide an excellent opportunity to conceal panels. In order to ensure that units are not visible, it is always a good idea to do a mock-up on the roof prior to installation.

2) Structures with non-historic additions

Additions might be an appropriate location for solar panels.

Additions might be an appropriate location for solar panels.

If your building’s roof is a gable, gambrel, pyramid or other prominent roof type, it will be difficult to install solar panels in a way that will not diminish the historic integrity of the structure.  A non-historic addition, however, may be able to accommodate panels in a way that minimally impacts the historic structure.  Solar panels on additions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and factors to consider include the age of the addition, the roofing material, visual prominence, and surrounding landscape.

3) Properties with a lot of land

Solar array

A rural solar array.

In some cases a property owner may be able to avoid negatively impacting the historic structure by installing solar ground-mounted panels instead. This works best for properties with a lot of acreage where panels can be set back a considerable distance from the historic structure and roads.  Special considerations should be given to properties located on significant cultural landscapes like battlefields as well as areas with potential archeological resources.

Unfortunately, many historic buildings do not have the roof type, orientation, visibility conditions, etc., that will permit unobtrusive solar panel installation. In those situations, solar co-ops may be an appropriate solution. This arrangement would not qualify for historic tax credits, but in many cases it may be the best solution.

For more information about the tax credit, please visit our webpage at http://mht.maryland.gov/taxCredits.shtml.

Tax Credit Highlight: The Calloway-Schooley House

The Bonomos in front of the Calloway-Schooley House

The Bonomos in front of the Calloway-Schooley House

by Melissa Archer, Preservation Officer

Nancye and Philip Bonomo do not own a low-maintenance home.  In fact, by most people’s standards, their 116 year old, 3,300-square-foot, wood-clad, Queen Anne-style home would be considered quite the opposite. Despite the yards upon yards of exterior painted wood surfaces, the Bonomos could not resist the history and charm of this house.  It also helped that, as their realtor assured them, they would be able to take advantage of state and local tax credits to help alleviate the burden of maintaining a piece of Maryland history.

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