Help us build a better toolbox.

The Developers Preservation Toolbox is for property developers and real estate professionals. Each TOOL below includes a brief overview with links to more detailed information from the most qualified sources identified to date. Each tool includes STRATEGIES, examples of best practices and proven solutions, along with potential PARTNERS for collaboration.

Tool ♦ Tennessee Historic Development Grant Program

Offset rehabilitation costs or raise equity on qualifying projects.

In April 2021 the Tennessee General Assembly developed the Historic Development Grant Program and allocated $4.8 million to renovate and preserve the State’s historic buildings. The legislators recognized that historic buildings and their preservation expand the state’s economy, create new employment opportunities, revitalize and renew communities, create an environment for investment, and promote tourism and rural economic development.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development will begin accepting applications for the HDGP on May 15, 2021. Awards will be made on a first-come, first serve basis triggered by the filing of a complete application. However, $1 million of the funding will be set aside until December 31, 2021 to allow projects in tier 3 and tier 4 communities to complete applications. Please visit the TNECD Opportunity Zones directory for a map of opportunity zones in Tennessee.

Tool ♦ Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives

Offset rehabilitation costs or raise equity on qualifying projects.

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program encourages private sector investment in the rehabilitation and re-use of historic buildings. A 20% income tax credit is available for the rehabilitation of historic, income-producing buildings that are determined by the Secretary of the Interior, through the National Park Service, to be “certified historic structures.”

The first step for a developer is to determine if the project building is or has potential to be certified as historic. If so, planning for the 20% credit can begin. Obtaining the 20% tax credit on qualifying expenses involves a three part process. This Project Cost Summary Worksheet will help in determining initial qualifying expenses. Before applying, consult your accountant or tax adviser to make sure that this federal tax credit is beneficial to you. Certain income and other restrictions may have a bearing on whether an owner is able to use the credit. IRS administers the Department of the Treasury’s involvement with the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program.

Strategies ♦ Developers have used this to transform neighborhoods and communities. Take a look at some national tax incentive case studies. Notable local tax credit projects include the Tennessee Theater and regional developer’s have experienced success with this financing tool.  Knox Heritage is seeking “Preservation Project Investment Program” participants in order to connect regional investors to local, smaller-scale preservation development projects. Learn more about this program HERE.

Partners ♦ The Federal historic preservation tax incentives program is a partnership among the National Park Service (NPS), the State Historic Preservation Officer (Tennessee Historical Commission), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Each plays an important role. Please be sure to read the “Who Does What” section of the NPS Tax Incentives brochure. Knox Heritage and the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance is qualified to administer the tax credit process. Please contact our organization for additional information on this service.

See it in Action: Novogradac & Company LLP has a new free online Novogradac Historic Tax Credit Mapping Tool featuring more than 12,000 federal historic tax credit (HTC) investments made from 2001 through 2015. The searchable tool uses Part 3 data from the National Park Service and allows users to view detailed information about HTC properties, with the ability to sort by congressional district, state and various eligibility criteria. 

Tool ♦ How To Inspect A Historic Structure

Tips for evaluating historic structures.

Historic preservation treats historic buildings in one of four ways: preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, or reconstruction. No matter which treatment you ultimately choose, you must first assess the condition of your historic structure. Condition assessments are a holistic approach to understanding how buildings were constructed, used, and maintained, and the various mechanisms that affect their structural and material condition. Whether done for research purposes or as a precursor to restoration work, all condition assessments have two primary objectives: to identify materials and features, and evaluate their condition.

Strategies ♦  The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training provides these Tips For Historic Building Owners. Be sure to read the National Park Service Preservation Brief No. 34, Understanding Old Buildings:The Process of Architectural Investigation. Consider using the California Park Structure Assessment Checklist. Watch a training video.

Tool ♦ Books on Preservation

Find the reference book that’s right for you: Preservation Bookstore on; 13 Essential Preservation Books from the National Trust