August 11, 2009
FUNDING HISTORIC BUILDING RENOVATIONS
By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst
You asked for a description of possible funding sources to renovate a historical building to become a historic museum, including new windows and a replacement furnace. The building in question is owned by a town, and has been offered for lease to a local historical society.
The primary potential sources of funding for such projects are the Historic Preservation Technical Assistance Grant (HPTAG), administered by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and the Historic Restoration Fund, administered by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism.
HPTAG provides grants for identification and evaluation of historic resources and for plans for their restoration; they are for technical assistance or preservation planning, and are not for construction projects. The maximum grant is $20,000 to $25,000, although most grants are smaller. All grants require a one to one match and those over $5,000 require a percentage be a cash match from an external source. The program is funded by the legislature, the Connecticut Humanities Council and the Commission on Culture and Tourism.
Grants from the Historic Restoration Fund may be used to restore, rehabilitate or purchase historic buildings and structures. The properties must be listed on the state Register of Historic Places and owned by non-profit organizations or municipalities. Grant awards range from $5,000 to $200,000 and must be matched one-to-one with cash (no in-kind services allowed) from sources other than the state. Project work must be consistent with the Secretary of the Interior's standards for rehabilitation. Grantees are reimbursed following the completion of the project and approval of all work by the commission. Once the work is completed, the property must be open to the public or work must be visible to the public and a preservation easement must be placed on the property.
(There are a number of tax incentives for historic preservation, but it is unlikely that these would apply in this case because neither the town nor the historical society pay taxes. Information about these tax incentives is available from a Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation website, http://www.cttrust.org/index.cgi/107).
In addition to these preservation programs, the project may be eligible for assistance under the Small Town Economic Assistance or Local Capitol Improvement programs. The project may also be eligible for assistance from the local electric or gas company with regard to energy efficiency improvements, such as new windows or furnaces. The Energy Opportunities Program helps non-residential customers exchange or modify functioning but inefficient heating and other equipment with high-efficiency alternatives for electric and gas savings. The Connecticut Cool Choice program provides rebates for energy efficient air conditioning systems. Further information about these programs is available at http://www.cl-p.com/Business/SaveEnergy/Services.aspx. .