Chaney remodeling 1618 Downtown to comply with historic preservation standards

by Alejandro Alfonso

Developer Dawn Chaney is redoing work on the historic Book Trader building, 312 South Elm Street, to conform with mandates from the National Parks Service to receive state and federal historic tax credits for the rehabilitation. Exposed brick in the retail space on the ground floor must be covered with sheet rock or drywall to resemble the aesthetic of the original interior. New windows installed on the upper floors must also be redone because Chaney did not provide documentation that the original windows were “beyond repair,” according to the State Historic Preservation office. The ground floor tenant, restaurant 1618 Downtown, announced it would be closed for lunch three consecutive Mondays, the last on March 7th, “due to interior changes mandated by federal historic standards,” a notice on Facebook read. Owner of 1618 Downtown, Nick Wyatt, said he had no comment about the changes. Building owner Dawn Chaney, and her business partner, Pam Frye, did not return calls for comment. Chaney charged visitors $25 a piece to tour the newly renovated building at a grand opening event March last year. The money raised went to Preservation Greensboro.

1618 Downtown via Yelp.

“It is not something anyone is holding up as a great point,” said Benjamin Briggs, executive director of Preservation Greensboro. “And, I certainly hope the owners rectify the issue.” “Every developer has a vision of what their clients would like to see in a building,” he said. “Exposed brick is very popular, in new construction, people enjoy seeing that.” A developer’s aesthetic vision can sometimes clash with the vision of the federal architect who approves the plan to qualify for historic tax credits. If a developer is not willing to compromise, counting on historic tax credits before taking on a historic rehabilitation may not be the wisest decision, Briggs said. “You do hear complaints, it’s a compromise,” he said. “A developer doesn’t need to incorporate the tax credits. They choose to participate. There is always debate, property rights advocates would like to take advantage of tax credits without any government oversight. There are voices on both sides of that line. Generally speaking, in North Carolina, it is a pretty smooth process.” According to a link on the State Historic Preservation Office website detailing the tax credit process, “applications for income-producing structures are subject to a joint review by the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office and the National Parks Service, with final authority resting with the National Parks Service— Property owners are strongly advised to consult with the State Historic Preservation office before beginning a rehabilitation to resolve potential design and rehabilitation problems that could result in denial of the credits.” The property owner can apply to receive the historic tax credits from the Internal Revenue Service when taxes forms for that year are filed, once the work passes the National Park Service review, according to the Preservation Office. Once Chaney satisfies the mandates prescribed by the National Park Service’s architect, and they review the work without further amendments, she can file with the IRS to receive the historic tax credits.