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April 2, 2011

Local Historic District proposal to be presented to TR City Commission in May

The process aimed at establishing a Local Historic District in downtown Three Rivers is nearing completion.

Christy Trammell, executive director of the Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority (DDA), provided an update on the subject during the April meeting of the DDA Board of Directors Friday morning (April 1st).

Trammell noted that the process dates back to early February of last year when the Three Rivers City Commission adopted a resolution to authorize the appointment of a Historic District Study Committee to conduct a Historic District Study for the purpose of establishing a local historic district.  In keeping with that action, the commission also appointed such a committee.

Trammell said the committee met throughout the year to field survey reports and assembled a 150-some document that has passed through the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) as well as the Three Rivers Planning Commission.

Now that a required 90-period following the planning commission review has elapsed, creation of the Local Historic District will be brought to the city commission during its meeting on Tuesday, May 17th, a session that will also include a public hearing on the matter.

Trammell said, “The importance of it is that it’s a huge preservation piece for the downtown area.”  She indicated there are 54 buildings in the proposed district, “52 of which are considered historic and two are ‘non-contributing.’”  She explained that the Sherwin-Williams store is not considered historic because of a fire in the 60’s that prompted reconstruction of the building.  The Southern Michigan Bank & Trust building is also regarded as non-contributing because it was built in 1970.

Trammell said that, in keeping with a recommendation from the state, the boundaries of the proposed district are the same as those associated with the listing of the downtown area on the National Register of Historic Places, a designation that dates back to 1982.

Trammell said the National Register designation makes building owners eligible for federal tax credits and – with the Local Historic District in place – owners will also be eligible for the additional rehabilitation tax credits offered by the state.

Trammell indicated that efforts are currently underway to assemble a seven to nine-member Local Historic District Commission that will oversee the district.  She said several candidates have been identified and asked DDA members for their assistance in recruiting others.  Trammell indicated that commission members must live in the city limits, have an interest in the history and preservation of the district, and not be serving on any city board.  She indicated the limitation has been “kind of a challenge because that eliminated the entire study committee.”

Trammell said Nan Taylor, field representative with the Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP),  will attend the May 17th city commission meeting to present information on the subject and respond to questions.  Taylor was the featured speaker at an informational meeting in May of last year at the Riviera Theatre.  The session, hosted by the Local Historic District Study Committee, was held for building owners within the proposed Local Historic District and other persons with an interest in the topic.


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