Grants help keep Old Town beautiful
The number of fixer-uppers in Old Town is dwindling as homeowners and real-estate speculators have invested heavily in the neighborhood in recent years — but there’s still a pot of money from City Hall for those planning work.
The local government continues to offer financial assistance to people who want to upgrade their historic houses and buildings, an incentive, officials have long said, that helps the neighborhood keep its historic charm.
The city’s Historic Preservation Board doles out the Old Town grants and, over about 20 years, the money has helped numerous homeowners and businesses with significant work, such as on foundations, and more aesthetic jobs like repainting houses.
The Old Town grant program is open all year and officials require that people who apply for the money seek approval from the board, which holds some authority over development in the neighborhood.
"You had a lot of people who lived here a long time who didn’t necessarily have the money to fix up wooden tents," says City Hall planner Brooks Robinson, referring to the decrepit shape of some of Old Town’s aging mining-era buildings, many having since been restored.
Applications must include a description of the work, cost estimates, drawings, photographs of the structure and a narrative describing the building’s history.
Buildings that are determined to be historic, generally those at least 50 years old, according to Robinson, are eligible. The grants are matching, meaning the owner must agree to pay at least the same amount as the city awards.
The program dates to 1987, when Park City, emerging from an economic downturn, wanted to spur people to preserve Old Town buildings. City Hall and tourism boosters have long seen Park City’s history as a silver-mining town, with Victorian houses still making Old Town picturesque, as giving it an advantage over many other vacation destinations.
"That was a way for the city to keep the historic buildings without them falling apart through neglect," Robinson says.
Some improvements that are eligible for grants include siding, windows, outside doors, porch repairs and repairing masonry. The city does not allow the grants to be put toward remodeling the inside, additions, signs and repairs of parts of a house or building that are not original.
Last October, City Hall had $30,176 available in grants for work on buildings south of 9th Street and $234,128 for north of 9th Street. The amount of current available money is not immediately available.
The Planning Department reports one grant application is pending, which seeks $16,440 for work on bricks at the building that houses Chimayo, a restaurant at 368 Main St. The Historic Preservation Board is scheduled to consider the application on April 12.
People who receive grants agree to pay back the money plus interest, pro-rated, if the property is sold within five years of the award.
The department requires applications be submitted by the 10th of a month for the board to consider a grant request at its following month’s meeting.
Information and applications are available at the Planning Department at City Hall, 615-5061, or on Park City’s World Wide Web site, http://www.parkcity.org. Under the ‘City departments’ icon, scroll to ‘Planning,’ choose ‘Planning Applications’ and scroll to the ‘Historic Preservation Forms and Applications’ section.
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