Friday, September 10, 2004

Neighborhoods seek spot on historic registry

With community pride and potential tax breaks at stake, four city neighborhoods are trying to get their bungalow-filled blocks placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The North and Northwest side areas are vying to create federally recognized historic districts, making bungalows within them eligible for tax relief if owners tackle renovation projects that cost at least 25 percent of the home's value.

That's a large undertaking though, so much of the historic register effort is about pride.
"I just figured it's kind of nice to say you are living in a historic bungalow," said Louis Krueger, 75, who is pushing the designation effort in his North Mayfair neighborhood.

He and his wife raised four kids in their bungalow in the 4900 block of North Kenneth, a home built in 1924 for $6,500. There are about 750 similar homes in his neighborhood bounded by Foster, Lawrence, Kedvale and Kilbourn.

He and other volunteers are collecting old building permits and historical data to submit first to the city, then state and finally the federal government. Official listing on the U.S. register could come in 2005.

Being in a historic district doesn't get you a fancy plaque -- but it doesn't bring the tight construction restrictions assigned to landmark buildings either. The most tangible benefit is getting property tax bills frozen for eight years if you sink 25 percent of the home's value into rehab work. The tax bill gradually increases to the home's true, post-rehab assessment between the ninth and 12th years.

In addition to North Mayfair, residents in two separate districts roughly bounded by Western, California, Lunt and Devon are also planning historic district applications. And the Wrightwood Boulevard Community, which includes 55 bungalows in the 4600 and 4700 blocks of West Wrightwood, already has its paperwork in and could be designated this month.

It would be the third bungalow district in the city designated by the feds. The Schorsch Irving Park Garden and the South Park Manor districts were approved in March.

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