Without the help of historic preservation funds, David Fishering said he would otherwise see the old Potato Growers building collapse within the next five years, or would need to seek help from outside investors.
Fishering, the co-owner (alongside his father Greg) of Storm King Distillery, 41 W Main St, and the Potato Growers site just east of the distillery, estimated it would cost some $2 million to fix the old building without any historic preservation capital.
But once tax credits and grants are included, the price to renovate would be more reasonable, Fishering said.
“Anything that we can do to offset the cost to us directly means we can put more work into it without getting any other investors involved,” he said.
According to the History Colorado website, the amount of credit that can be earned is calculated as a percentage of the overall rehabilitation costs associated with the project-
• A 20 percent federal tax credit for the rehabilitation of certified historic buildings used for income-producing purposes
• A 20 percent state tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic, owner-occupied residences
• A 20-30 percent state tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic buildings used for income-producing purposes.
The Fisherings plan to renovate the Potato Growers building and split it into a restaurant and mixed-use retail store, as previously reported.
Funds for such historic preservation projects became possible thanks to an ordinance passed by the City of Montrose last year. The measure allows owners of older downtown structures — if they so choose — to pursue historic designation on their property.
The ordinance says once a building gets the designation, it keeps it permanently. A structure can receive the historic designation if it’s more than 50 years old.
City of Montrose director of business innovation Chelsea Rosty said the measure creates the right balance between private property rights and public interest to preserve historical assets.
“It’s (historic preservation designation) intended to renovate and update these really old buildings to save them,” Rosty said. “Then, they won’t be so dilapidated or blighted that they’re not usable anymore.”
“The goal is when people look at our downtown, they see Montrose — they won’t see a cookie cutter street that could be anywhere,” she said.
And it’s not having the same plain-Jane street, but the designation helps retain history “which ties us together,” Rosty said.
“These buildings carry with them the stories of our ancestors,” she said. “... There are downtown buildings where the forefathers of Montrose met. It’s important to preserve those stories through the buildings.”
Downtown Development Authority Manager Melissa Lowe agreed, saying the downtown properties “are a glimpse into history” and something that such continued to be passed to future generations.
“I think it’s a testament to all of the mason work back in the day,” she said.
The distinction doesn’t just help continue to pass on history but serves as an economic benefit for owners, Rosty said. When a building receives the designation, its owners have access to federal and state grant money in order to preserve and update properties, she added.
“With the state and federal tax credits, the owner just has to show proof of the work being done,” she said.
Building owners could send unused financial capital to brokers, which in turn, could sell the remaining funds on the market, Rosty said.
“You would have cash, instead of a tax credit,” she said, adding doing would mean returns come back $.85 on the dollar. “... You’re not able to get the full amount but it’s a good amount. You’ll get the cash in pocket.”
Rosty said the Fisherings are currently working on setting up a potential state preservation bid while the owners of the Vine have obtained one.
The city’s historic preservation ordinance also allows the city to seek Certified Local Government status or CLG.
The program creates partnerships with local and state governments as well as national preservation organizations. The CLG permits the city to have a say in what structures are deemed historically important.
A historic preservation commission, appointed by the Montrose City Council, was established to oversee the implementation of the ordinance.
Montrose’s Ian Atha, John Eloe, Jon Horn, Amanda Lloyd, Michael Prouty, Robert Stollsteimer and Scott Stryker fill out the committee. They were all appointed to three-year terms in October.
At least 60 percent of its members are residents of the city, and at least 40 percent have expertise in a preservation-related pursues that include history, architecture, landscape architecture, American studies and civilization.
Rosty said the committee is beginning the process of formulating the historic preservation application so building owners can get registered locally.
Additionally, the commission is currently creating lists of historic sites, properties and areas that have local importance, Rosty said. It’ll also decide the condition of buildings, structures, objects, sites and districts proposed for designation.
City workers are doing their part in helping expedite the designation.
Rosty said the staff has gone to historic preservation conferences to discover the most updated incentives available through the State of Colorado and the federal government. That way, owners have a better chance to find what tax credits are available for them, she added.
Fishering said if the Potato Growers building gets the historical designation, it would also nab other potential incentives through the City of Montrose or Region 10.
With those funds, he hopes to make sure residents will still see the same old Potato Growers structure for many years to come.
“It’ll help us keep the facade close to its original (look) as possible,” he said.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.