Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Preservation Assistance

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The following information is provided as a general and partial guide to sources of funding for historic preservation planning and development projects. This information should be used as a starting point for a more in depth examination of funding opportunities. It has been prepared by the State Historic Preservation Office in response to numerous requests for information about preservation funding. We also recommend that you consult with local, regional, statewide, and national preservation organizations for information about preservation funding programs in your community. In addition, there are other financial incentives not specifically for preservation projects that may also be sources of funding - for example: museum, library, performing arts, housing, energy conservation, community planning, and senior citizens programs. These other options can be investigated depending upon the current or intended use of the historic property. The availability of "non preservation" sources of funding varies across the state - contact your municipal (village, city, town &/or county) planning or economic development offices for information about programs in your community.

Private Owners

As a general rule, there are few sources offering preservation funding assistance to private property owners and to owner occupants in particular. Most public agency and private foundation historic preservation funding programs are for municipal or not for profit (NFP) owners. However, there are some other sources of funding available for private property owners.

Owners of residential and commercial properties may be eligible for federal, state or local funds distributed through municipal agencies. Assistance may be in the form of loans or grants and eligibility is dependent on locally established criteria consistent with public program policies. While age and condition of a property may be considered in these programs, the focus may be affordable housing, creating employment opportunities or investing in local communities rather than preserving historic and cultural resources. To find out more about these programs, contact your municipal departments of planning, community development or economic development.

In addition, private-lending institutions may offer assistance to target areas within older urban neighborhoods or rural agricultural districts. As with the public sources, these programs are not likely to focus on the historic nature of a subject property and selection criteria may reflect other priorities. Nevertheless, historic and cultural resources may benefit from such programs.

Owners of historic commercial, office, industrial or residential rental properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places may be eligible for a preservation tax credit if they are planning rehabilitation work. The federal historic rehabilitation tax credit program allows a 20% tax credit for the substantial rehabilitation of historic properties (substantial rehabilitation is determined using an Internal Revenue Service formula measuring the value of the building against the dollar amount of the proposed work). The final value of the credit is based on the cost of the rehabilitation; in effect, 20% of the rehabilitation costs will be borne by the federal government. The work performed (both interior and exterior) must meet federal preservation standards and be approved by the State Historic Preservation Office. For information, please contact the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is also available on the National Park Service's tax credit website.

  • The Farmer's Protection and Farm Preservation Act allows for an income tax credit equal to 25% of the cost of rehabilitating historic barns. The barn must be income producing, in non-residential use, placed in service before 1936, and work must not materially alter the historic appearance of the structure. For information, contact the State Historic Preservation Office.

Not-For-Profit Organizations & Municipalities

Various options exist for funding "public benefit" historic preservation projects. There are several public and Not-for-Profit (NFP) grant programs that are possible sources of funding for preservation planning and development projects. In addition, private fund raising is a viable option. Private and/or community wide fund raising campaigns are usually key elements for most public benefit preservation projects.

Some NFP owners of historic properties may be able to use the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit program by "syndicating" the credit to private investors. By doing so, they are essentially selling the credit and raising funds for rehabilitation work. For more information on the credit and its applicability for NFP owners, please contact us. More information about syndication is also available on the National Park Service's tax credit website.

Please note: Most grant programs require that the historic property be listed or eligible for listing on the State or National Register of Historic Places, or designated a landmark under a local preservation ordinance at the time of application. For information about the State and National Registers please contact us. For information about local landmark designation, contact your local historic preservation commission or municipal clerk.

Historic Preservation Grant Program

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) has available from the Environmental Protection Fund of 1993(EPF) funds that can be used for acquisition, development, and improvement of parks, historic properties and Heritage Area resources. Funds are allocated every year as part of the annual state budget.