Preservation Consulting

Michael Gaertner Architects offers the following services to owners, architects, and developers of historic properties:

Investment Tax Credit (ITC) Applications

The Tax Reform Act of 1986 (PL 99-514) permits owners and some lessees of historic buildings to take a 20 percent income tax credit on the cost of rehabilitating such buildings for industrial, commercial or rental residential purposes. Michael Gaertner Architects offers preparation of all documents for the ITC program and acts a liaison throughout the application process with state and federal agencies on behalf of the client. The rehabilitated building must be a certified historic structure that is subject to depreciation, and the rehabilitation must be certified as meeting standards established by the National Park Service.

The ITC program also offers a 10 percent tax credit for the rehabilitation of non-historic buildings built before 1936. As with the 20% ITC, the 10% credit applies only to buildings–not to ships, bridges or other structures. The rehabilitation must be a substantial rehabilitation, exceeding either $5,000 or the adjusted basis of the property, whichever is greater. And the property must be income-producing. Unlike the 20% tax credit, however, the 10% credit does not apply to buildings rehabilitated for any residential uses, whether for rental residences or the owner's personal residence. Furthermore, projects undertaken for the 10% credit must meet a test governing the retention of external walls and internal structural framework:

  • At least 50% of the building's existing walls must remain in place as external walls, and
  • At least 75% of the building's existing external walls must remain in place as either external or internal walls, and
  • At least 75% of the building's internal structural framework must remain in place.

The 10% ITC applies only to non-historic buildings built before 1936. The 20% ITC applies only to certified historic structures. The two credits are exclusive. Only one applies to a given project. Which credit applies depends on the building–not on the owner's preference.

Owners of buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places may not take the 10% credit. Owners of buildings located in registered historic districts may claim the 10% credit only if they file Part 1 of the Preservation Certification Application with the National Park Service and receive a determination that the building does not contribute to the district.

National Register of Historic Places Nominations

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation's cultural resources worthy of preservation. In addition to recognition of significance, listing in the Register provides some protection, through review by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, against federally financed, assisted or licensed undertakings and make owners of listed properties eligible for tax benefits and funding programs. Authorized in 1935, the Register was expanded under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 to become a planning device to guide federal, state, local and private actions. Register listing is not an absolute bar to destruction of listed properties by private owners of federal projects, although properties affected by federal undertakings may be the recipients of funds authorized for recovery of important historical or archaeological date.

Michael Gaertner Architects provides preparation of National Register applications which includes the following:

  • Research for individual buildings and /or historic districts
  • Architectural descriptions
  • Statement of significance
  • Architectural photography
  • Presentation of nomination to State Board of Review

Registered Texas Historic Landmark (RTHL)

A state marker program, these markers are awarded only to structures deemed worthy of preservation for their historical and architectural associations. The application process for a RTHL is similar to the National Register of Historic Places. Owners of RTHLs do not have to open their buildings to the public for tours, but they must give the Texas Historical Commission (THC) sixty days notice before any alterations are made to the structure. Michael Gaertner Architects provides the research and application procedure to obtain a Registered Texas Historic Landmark which includes:

  • Research and application preparation
  • Presentation to county and state review boards

Research for Public Relations purposes

Owners of historic buildings can benefit from historic photographs and a written history of their building which recognizes the people and events associated with the buildings history. Michael Gaertner Architects offers research and compilation of historic photographs suitable for display in public areas. Our firm has found that this information is a successful marketing tool for historic buildings.

Specification writing for historic buildings

Historic buildings require carefully written building specifications which take care not to unnecessarily damage historic fabric. While adapting a historic building to a new use often necessitates destruction of some historic fabric, it is in the best interest of the building and the building owner that such destruction be limited wherever possible without compromising the owners use of the building. Michael Gaertner Architects offers services which identify historic elements and incorporate them into the program for the building.

Deed Restrictions, facade easements and restrictive covenants.

Historic buildings sometimes have deed restrictions, also called facade easements or restrictive covenants, placed upon them. This was usually done by a concerned previous owner to ensure the protection of the building. These restrictions are usually held, administered, and reviewed by a non-profit organization or a public agency. Michael Gaertner Architects is knowledgeable about these type of restrictions and how to schedule reviews appropriately so that your project is not delayed. Our firm can also guide you if you wish to add protective covenants to your building.

Municipal and State review boards / Certificates of appropriateness

Michael Gaertner Architects will prepare, schedule and present projects for review by municipal and state review boards and in municipalities which control rehabilitation projects, by guideline, ordinance or other review, assist in obtaining necessary approvals.

Historic Rehabilitation sales tax exemption

This state tax law provides for exemption of state and municipal sales tax on labor for certain historic rehabilitations. Michael Gaertner Architects will assist in preparing the exemption forms for use by the owner in claiming this exemption.

Property tax relief

Enabling legislation in Texas provides for tax relief from municipal and county taxes. Tax abatement programs differ in each municipality, county and state. Michael Gaertner Architects offers investigation of possible tax incentives for each project and prompt filing of required paperwork.

Certified Rehabilitations

In order to qualify for tax credits and other programs, rehabilitation of historic properties must follow certain guidelines called the 'Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.' Properties which follow these standards are certified rehabilitations. Michael Gaertner Architects develops strategies for compliance and provides guidance throughout the development of the project to ensure that the certification will be approved and the building can qualify for the 20% Investment Tax Credit

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