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City learns about historic registry

Mayor David Grissom and the city of Russellville welcomed Phil Thomason March 27 at city hall to discuss a new way to put downtown Russellville on the map – as a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thomason, of Thomason and Associates, has been working for a few months now with Grissom on getting a large section of downtown Russellville listed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to Thomason, being listed in this registry provides benefits to the individual businesses and the community economically. At the public meeting March 27, Thomason explained these benefits and more with the citizens in attendance.

For one thing, “this provides incentives for business owners in the registered area to renovate their buildings to fit the historic guidelines of the area, but they don’t have to,” Thomason explained.

One of the biggest incentives is that it would provide a 20 percent federal income tax credit to the contributing businesses that meet the historic guidelines. “It’s important to understand that this is a credit, not a reduction of taxable income,” Thomason noted.

There is also a “25 percent refundable tax credit available for private owners of commercial properties who substantially rehabilitate historic properties that are listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and are 60 years or older,” according to the Alabama Historical Commission.

As far as economic impacts, Thomason said rehabilitating the properties instead of building new structures creates more jobs because it is more labor intensive, generates more household income and keeps more money in the community.

“I’ve gone back years later to the places I’ve worked on before, and there is often a substantial change and growth in the area,” he said.

Rehabilitating downtown areas also attracts tourists, encourages them to spend money locally and inspires them to make return trips, according to Thomason.

Russellville is in the process of sending the draft in to be reviewed. Thomason said he hopes it will be on the review board’s agenda in the summer or early fall and be completed by the end of the year.

“We’ve been working on it for a while now. I think it will be a great thing for downtown,” Grissom said.

The proposed historic district would cover a large section of Jackson Street and parts of Lawrence and Franklin.