Louisiana State Residential Rehabilitation Tax Credits

Louisiana tax credits header for blog post

I can’t believe I have not posted about the Louisiana Residential Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit process on my blog! Wow. Ok, so here goes.  This is information on the Residential Historic Rehabilitation Residential Tax Credit program for the State of Louisiana (and more specifically, Alexandria, LA). I have included links to the boundaries of the local historic districts in Alexandria, the PowerPoint presentation explaining the program; and a really unfortunate and corny video I did for speech class a couple years back.  The poor video had to have certain pieces in order for me to get the grade. I had to have an audience, I had to start out with a song, so forgive the unnecessary elements of the video and fast forward to :25 so you can concentrate on the presentation portion. If you have any questions, you can contact me, or the State office. The wonderful people who administer the Historic Rehabilitation program for the State of Louisiana are always on hand to answer questions, are patient and I truly enjoyed working with them. So, if you have any questions, you can also contact them.

KEEP IN MIND: This process is for the RESIDENTIAL program only. I do have knowledge of how the commercial credits are supposed to work. That is a different process and a different percentage. I have not had personal experience with that process and decline to comment on how it works.  I have had personal experience with the residential program and can vouch that it worked/will work, exactly how it is outlined.

Without further ado:

Powerpoint Presentation :Louisiana State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program

Louisiana State Office PDF Flyer: LA Tax Incentive breakdown pdf

Alexandria, Louisiana, Local Historic and Cultural Districts

For National Register districts or individual listings click here to search: National Register of Historic Places

Here is the official link to the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development Division of Historic Preservation where you start the process. All of the applications and information is listed on this page.

In depth answers regarding the Louisiana State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program.

And last but not least, my very unfortunate video.  If you would like to bypass the most annoying part, fast forward to :25.  If you want to follow along with what I am presenting, you will need to have the Powerpoint open or printed out and have either read or have handy the above PDF. I saved it for last, because if you have read the information above, it really is not necessary.  However, if you are visual and like to have the information presented to you, here you go: Youtube Video, explanation of program

If you live in Louisiana, but you do not live in a locally designated historic area, or a National Register historic district, or a building or home that is in a National Register historic district, but you feel your home is historic. What you would need to do in order to be eligible for the program is create a local historic district through your municipality. It can either be designated as such by your City Council, your Police Jury, or whatever municipal authority your home is under. I have never done this and do not know what is required. You do have to present the information to the municipality and then either you or them, or maybe a cooperative group, drafts the necessary paperwork for it to be adopted and made an ordinance and then filed with the assessor’s office and the State of Louisiana.  If anyone has ever done this before, feel free to leave a comment.  Another thing you could do is ascertain whether or not your house would be eligible for listing on the National Register.  If it is, you can take the necessary steps to try to have it listed. Please visit the National Register site (link posted above) for more information on that process.

Some call me inhospitable

Or, maybe that is what the doctor whom I almost tossed off my front porch thought.

It started out as a pleasant day.  Lazy Saturday…sitting around the house.  I heard a knock on the front door and went to answer it.  Standing on my front porch, well dressed, was a man in his late 30s.  I took it in and thought, hmmm….this man is somebody, or THINKS he is somebody.  The first thing he said was “You may think I am crazy for knocking on your door, but do you want to sell your house”.  Immediately, I am intrigued.  This man appeared to be well dressed and his demeanor spoke of money….lots of money.  Even though I love my house, in the interest of historic preservation and if it would get “fixed up” quicker, I entertained the thought of selling it.  I was processing the thought and heard myself reply “We can talk about it”.  At that time, my husband moved out on the porch and my dogs went berserk.  Not a good sign.  So, I hushed my dogs and put them in their kennel and came back.  The man was gone.  I looked accusingly at my husband for an answer.  I was wondering what he said to the man that caused him leave.

My husband chuckled at the questions in my eyes and said only four words “He’s friends with Ratcliff“.  Immediately it dawned on me.  This dude wanted to buy my house, hack it up into pieces, and move it to a “good” neighborhood.  I became incensed and threw open the door to give him a piece of my mind and what I thought about people like him.  He was gone.  Darn.  Poor man.  He had no idea that being friends with you know who was a con as far as we are concerned.  He would have done better keeping that name to himself. 

My husband told him very kindly (he is the nice one) that he should not say that name so loud, that his wife (me) might overhear.  He warned him about my feelings on the matter and told him that we prefer to advocate for historic neighborhoods rather than to tear out the good pieces in them which leaves empty lots and only memories.  Pulling up a large house in this area would be like pulling out your front tooth.  He also informed him that we advocate for neighborhood revitalization, better preservation laws, better oversight from the Housing Authority, better code enforcement, landlords paying attention to their properties, pride of ownership, etc.  That what he proposed to do was not the answer.

So, I guess I am glad that I had to return inside the house.  Otherwise, they might have had a write up in the paper about some crazy blonde woman chasing a man down Monroe Street with a crowbar…..  🙂  Well, maybe not that drastic.  But, you get my point.

Andrea

What’s the deal?

Trash thrown out by landlords

Trash thrown out by landlords

 

Unfortunately, the picture above is a common sight throughout the Garden District neighborhoods.  When a landlord evicts a tenant or cleans out the house after they leave, they deposit all the junk on the street and stick a For Rent sign back up in the yard.  In this particular instance, the trash has sat in front of the house for a week and a half (I took this picture a few days ago) and nothing has been done.  I passed by there today to see if it is still there and not only is it still there, it has been rifled through and is out all over the street now.  I have reported such incidents to the First Call program/Code Enforcement, only to be told that they are contacting the landlord to clean it up.  Contacting the landlord to clean it up??  If the landlord had an inkling to clean it up, they would have done so in the first place…dontcha think?  Are we giving these guys too many chances?

According to the Alexandria City Ordinances,
Sec. 26-95.  Certain apartments and single-family residential rental units, etc.
Multifamily, duplex, and single-family residential unit owners shall be responsible for hauling away all trash, clothes, debris, etc., when a unit is vacated and cleaned out due to a move, eviction, or abandonment by the owner and/or tenant. If trash and debris is placed in front of the multifamily, duplex or single-family unit, a fee of three hundred dollars ($300.00) per trailer load or partial load thereof picked up shall be charged. No utilities shall be turned on at the multifamily, duplex, or single-family residential unit until the charges are paid in full. If the charges are not paid in full, a lien will be placed on the property.
The city shall service only small business customers such as offices. This service will continue on the basis that the business does not generate too much garbage where a dumpster is required. The city will determine if the business generates too much garbage and shall have the option to discontinue curbside service and require that the business obtain a dumpster or an alternate type of service.
(Code 1956, § 13-6; Ord. No. 48-1979, § 1, 4-17-1979; Ord. No. 29-1997, § 1, 2-11-1997; Ord. No. 235-2005, § II, 8-2-2005; Ord. No. 201-2006, § II, 6-20-2006)

I wonder if this ordinance is enforced?  I would assume that the above situation is why the city has a department called Code Enforcement.  I wonder if the city really does cite the landlords with ordinance violations?  I thought that it wasn’t getting enforced because no one was reporting it.  However, I have reported several incidents and all that ever seems to come of it is that eventually the city comes and picks the stuff up.  Although I am glad to see it gone, I still feel that the landlord should be held responsible and/or the cost passed on to him/her.  It seems to me that if this particular ordinance was enforced and the landlord made to pay, a landlord would think twice or even thrice about doing it again.  Especially if it costs $300.00 a trailer load!  Also, does the city really place a lien on the property and not turn on utilities?  I would speculate and say probably not.  So does the city pick it up at their own expense and thereby send a signal to the landlord that this behavior is ok?  I don’t mean to be arbitrary here…but if a landlord is in the rental business, hauling off the junk or renting a dumpster temporarily should be factored into the cost of operating that rental business!

I am presently investigating how to fill out a public records request.  I have called and asked the code enforcement people and they claim to not know.  If anyone knows what the process is to get copies of public records, I would appreciate any info.  Later on, I want to check and see if this landlord (and others I have been tracking) are receiving violations or not.  That would indicate whether or not this ordinance is being enforced.  Do I think it will fix the problem?  Not entirely, but let’s say one landlord owns 10 properties in the area and he starts receiving citations with fines and cannot rent his/her properties until the fines are paid, I think he would think again about putting stuff out on the curb and therefore 10 properties just got cleaned up.

The city really should be able to recoup their funds expended on picking this stuff up.  Think of all the money that would be saved if the landlords in the area would get charged to pick up all this junk instead of the city doing it for free.  Also, if a lien was put on the property and a new tenant was not allowed to turn on utilities until the fine is paid, that would force the landlord to pay them.  Otherwise he/she will not receive any income on the property until the lien is satisfied.  I think that by enforcing this ordinance, it will better curb some of the rampant bad behavior landlords in the area have.

Just a suggestion on saving the city money and also for cleaning up our neighborhood.

Historic Designations Explained

In answer to my question:

Thank you for your comments. They are always welcome. I am not trying to put all of the blame on the commission for failure to act, I am just asking why some properties are advocated for and some are not. Shouldn’t it be fair?

Lamar White, Jr. answers and explains as follows:

Andrea, in both instances– the Armour building and the Cotton Brothers Bakery Building– the advocacy began when individuals connected with those projects alerted the commission to act. This did not occur with 2401 Monroe Street.

But I must remind you that the Armour building is, in no way, a done deal. Although it has certainly gained a lot of attention (in large part because the non-profit that owns the building was seeking to use federal money, which required public attention), the situation has not materially changed. The City is doing what it can do– coordinating with the EPA, etc.– but ultimately, we’re all in need of preservation partners– other governmental agencies, non-profits, and private developers who are better suited to tackle this type of renovation and preservation project.

Regarding the ordinances: I understand the commission is in the process of drafting a new set of ordinances, and we are also looking into best practices from other municipalities.

But I think you may have some confusion about what, exactly, an historic declaration means. Believe it or not, the designation does not protect a property from demolition, even if it is on the National Register. The designation does, however, allow the property owner to enjoy the benefits of certain targeted tax credit programs.

For the most part, only a property owner can submit a property for consideration on the register.

Now, that said, there is a difference between a property being singled out as significant and an entire neighborhood being called a “historic district.” The HDPC can advise on the boundaries of any historic districts, but ultimately, the City Council must approve their recommendations. Again, currently, the HDPC does not have the authority to issue certificates of appropriateness. In fact, currently, the City does not issue certificates of appropriateness at all; there simply isn’t a mechanism in place yet.

I agree that the current ordinances are a little confusing.

Advocacy begins on an individual level– with people like you and your neighbors.

I hope that clears up some confusion. Let me know if there are any other questions I can answer.

Thank you Lamar for clearing that up.  I appreciate your time.  As always, I welcome accurate information and stand to be corrected. 

Andrea Warren