OLR Research Report

December 10, 2008




By: John Rappa, Principal Analyst

You asked what the significance is of listing the Coltsville property on the National Register of Historic Places. You also wanted to know the owner's plans for developing the property and if he or she qualifies for federal or state assistance.


The National Park Service designated Coltsville as a National Historic District in 2007 and a National Historic Landmark (NHL) in September 2008, signifying that the property is very significant to American history and culture (http://www.nps.gov/history/nhl/QA.htm). NHL properties are also included in the National Register of Historic Places, the nation's official list of historic property worthy of preservation.



Coltsville's owner, the Rhode Island-based Urban Smart Growth, LLC, faces few development restrictions and qualifies for many federal and state benefits. It can develop or use the property without conditions unless it requests federal funds. In that case, the company must submit its development plans to the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) for review and comment (http://www.achp.gov/aboutachp.html).

Although the National Park Service monitors NHL property and encourages owners to adhere to national historic preservation standards, nothing obligates owners to implement its recommendations

(Coltsville development would be restricted if it were located in a state-designated historic district. Property owners constructing, renovating, or making other improvements in such districts must comply with regulations for preserving the property and the district's historic character.)


Properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places qualify for federal and state benefits. Owners rehabilitating such property qualify for a federal 20% investment tax credit, for which they must apply to the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism (CCCT).

Historic property developers also benefit from two Connecticut programs offering business tax credits for developing historic property. Individuals and nonprofit developers rehabilitating historic, owner-occupied homes generate a 30% corporate business tax credit for businesses that contribute funds for these projects. Individuals and for- and nonprofit developers converting historic commercial and industrial buildings into apartments and condominiums qualify for a 25% credit. Both credits are available through CCCT (http://www.cultureandtourism.org/cct/taxonomy/taxonomy.asp?DLN=43543&CCTNAV_GID=1656&cctPNavCtr=|#49151).

Besides administering federal and state tax credits, CCCT provides up to $200,000 matching grants to municipalities and nonprofit organizations for restoring, rehabilitating, or purchasing historic buildings, structures, and objects. The property must be open or visible to the public (http://www.cultureandtourism.org/cct/cwp/view.asp?a=2127&q=317350#HRF). Historic property development also qualifies for funding under the Urban Act and Small Town Economic Assistance Programs.

Federal law protects historic property owners from the adverse effects of a federally funded project. It requires federal agencies funding or permitting a proposed project to consider how the project affects historic property and allow ACHP to comment on them. It also requires agencies to consult with specified groups, such as municipalities and state historic preservation officers, about the project and allow the public to comment on it (http://www.achp.gov/citizensguide.pdf).


Urban Smart Growth plans to develop Coltsville's blue-domed East Armory for artisan studios, shops, and offices. (Other sections of Coltsville have already been developed into residences, commercial offices, a school, and a public park.) The company specializes in redeveloping mills and factories into residential and mixed-use communities in urban centers (http://www.urbansmartgrowth.net/about.htm). It was recently briefed on a National Park Service study to use part of the armory as a museum showcasing Coltsville's history. The Service's Boston office must review the proposal and report its nonbinding findings to Congress. The proposal must be approved by Congress and accepted by the company.