Montrose, CO – The city has updated its municipal code after councilors unanimously approved a new ordinance Tuesday designed to give owners of historic downtown buildings the choice to pursue historic designation for their properties. This allows the city to partner with property owners to pursue efforts towards preserving historic downtown buildings and investment in economic revitalization.
According to members of the City Council, there is no greater, more beautiful reminder of the history of Montrose than the historic buildings of this city's downtown. These structures tell the story of the founding, creation, and growth of Montrose and serve as the cornerstone of the city's legacy for the future. In an effort to preserve these buildings the council passed Historic Preservation, HP, ordinance as part of a larger plan to grow the downtown district.
Ordinance 2551, the addition of Section 4-15 to the city's official code, allows the City to pursue status as a Certified Local Government, or CLG, to have the ability to designate buildings as part of the City's own historic registry. When a building was to be registered for HP, the building's owners would then be eligible to apply for tax credits and other incentives from both state and federal programs for the preservation and restoration of their buildings.
Chelsea Rosty, the Director of Business Innovation for the City of Montrose, delivered several presentations to the council over the past few months showcasing multiple projects from across the country, including Colorado, highlighting historic buildings being restored and used for modern uses.
“This ordinance is intended to preserve the historical character of Montrose while also providing an avenue for property owners to have access to robust improvement incentives," Rosty said. "Our downtown is unique because of the character of our buildings. We are pleased to have a system in place to preserve those assets for future generations.”
The HP ordinance is written to allow building owners the option to apply for designation. The designation is not mandatory for downtown building owners but serves as a tool for them to pursue preservation efforts. The ordinance states once a building is designated a historic property, that designation stays with the building permanently. The program is designed for buildings that are 50 years and older.
Once an application is received, it will be reviewed by a commission comprised of at least 60-percent residents of the City and at least 40-percent industry professionals to determine if the proposal fits within the HP ordinance. If approved, the project would have to follow specific policies when altering the property that closely follows local and state preservation guidelines. Each project would be subject to financial review to determine if the project could qualify for city investment.
Currently, Montrose is the largest Colorado community without a CLG ordinance, according to Virgil Turner, the City's Director of Innovation and Citizen Engagement.
The city recently entered into an agreement with Main Street Montrose, LLC to make improvements to the Vine building located at 347 East Main Street. The building is the oldest known brick structure in Montrose with a history dating back 132 years.
The $241,186 investment by the city is joined by a $1.35-million investment by the building's owners to preserve and revitalize the building for residential and small business uses. The project is viewed as a model of the HP ordinance as the city's CLG efforts are being developed.
With this new ordinance, the city is working to create a space on its website where property owners can learn more about the application process.
For more City news visit CityOfMontrose.org.