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Officials use Preservation Tax Credits to renovate


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Here's an interesting article about historic designations being used to help finance projects. It appears that the Pick Fort Shelby may finally get renovated! It's hard to believe that a building in a major downtown could sit unused for 35 years!!


This building was built in 1901. The complex now houses the Detroit health department and other city health services. The detailed architecture remains intact.


Wende Berry, health department spokeswoman, shows a brass-trimmed freight elevator, an example of architectural features at the Herman Kiefer complex.

Detroit takes a new look at its historic buildings

Officials are trying to get preservation tax credits for the Kiefer complex.

By Natalie Y. Moore / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- About 5,000 noteworthy buildings and structures in the city -- churches, hotels, downtown buildings and homes -- benefit from urban preservation and tax benefits because they've been designated historic sites.

Now, another city landmark is being pushed to get the same recognition from the Historic Designation Advisory Board, which can lead to state and federal tax credits for restoration.

The Herman Kiefer complex houses the Detroit Health and Wellness Promotion Department. The six buildings date to the 1800s. At one time, it was the city tuberculosis hospital. The detailed architecture remains intact, although one building in the complex is closed and a target of vandals.

"It's time to start preserving our cultural gems while we still have them," said Wende Berry, spokeswoman for the department.

Officials have asked the advisory board to study naming the complex a historic district. Based on the board's finding, the City Council will decide on the designation, the basis for tax credits.

The department also houses programs under the health and human services and police departments.

"Detroit has an enormous variety of historic structures and a very rich history. State tax credit has made an enormous help to Detroit," said Bill Worden, director of the board.

Before it began its winter recess, the Detroit City Council authorized a study of the Herman Kiefer complex. It also is exploring historical options in Eastern Market. Worden said the advisory board also plans to survey homes in Rosedale Park on the west side for possible designation.

The council recently approved a historic designation for the derelict Fort Shelby Hotel, at 525 W. Lafayette in the central business district. The hotel has early 20th century architecture and was a popular destination. The 10-story site has been unoccupied since 1975 except for the Anchor Bar, which moved.

Developers for the Fort Shelby project declined to give details until the financing is finalized. But it would include 200 hotel rooms and 65 apartments. "It provides us with a basis for historic tax credits. It helps pay the costs of renovating the facility," said Michigan developer Leo Phillips, who would not reveal the total price tag or the timeline.

You can reach Natalie Y. Moore at (313) 222-2396 or [email protected].

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