Designation of Heritage Preservation Sites

Designating Heritage Preservation Sites

Our City’s Comprehensive Plan recognizes that both the economic vitality and the unique character of the community is dependent upon the protection of our historic resources. Designation as a Heritage Preservation Site means that the site or area has historic significance that is still evident today.

The Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) is charged with cataloging and recommending to the City Council any areas, places, buildings, structures, lands, districts, or other objects to be designated as Heritage Preservation Sites. There are currently many individual houses and buildings, several areas, and one district (the Excelsior Downtown Historic District) designated as Heritage Preservation Sites.

Demolition, new construction, or significant exterior alteration of a Heritage Preservation Site should take into account the historic nature of that site. Consequently, all significant exterior changes to the site must be approved by the HPC. The mechanism for obtaining this approval is the Site Alteration Permit.

Currently Designated Sites

The City of Excelsior currently has many current Heritage Preservation Sites (PDF), both individual Landmarks (PDF) and the Downtown Historic District (PDF). These individual addresses, areas, and the Downtown Historic District (PDF) require Site Alteration Permits for any exterior work. Site Alteration Permit applications are filed with City Hall, reviewed by the HPC, and approved by the City Council.

The Excelsior Downtown Historic District contains 74 structures and one site (the Port of Excelsior). 59 of these structures plus the Port of Excelsior are categorized as contributing to the historic character of the area. These 58 structures and one site are good examples of particular architectural styles, are the work of prominent local architects / builders, or are examples of a common vernacular style and are notable for their massing and ornamental trim details.

The other 16 structures in the District are categorized as noncontributing. These structures have historic features that have been significantly altered or new construction has occurred. While these properties are classified as noncontributing to the character of the area, any rehabilitation work or new construction still requires a Site Alteration Permit. This is so that the commission can evaluate how the project will impact the historic character of the surrounding area.

Read the 2002 Historic District Designation Study (PDF).

Benefits of Designating a Property as a Landmark Property


Local Incentives 

The City recognizes that historic resources are a benefit to the community; hence the City offers a 50% reduction in building permit fees for improvements to Landmarks listed in Appendix II and 25% reduction in building permit fees for improvements to contributing buildings in the Excelsior Downtown Historic District.

Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program Benefits 

The Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program benefits the owner, the occupants, and the community by: 

• Encouraging protection of landmarks through the promotion, recognition, and designation of historic structures 

• Increasing the value of the rehabilitated property and returning underutilized structures to the tax rolls 

• Upgrading downtowns and neighborhoods and often increasing the amount of available housing within the community.

Federal 20% Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program 

Historic Preservation Tax Credits are available to building owners interested in substantially rehabilitating historic buildings. Commercial, industrial and rent producing residential structures that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places or are a "contributing" structure within a National Register district qualify for a 20% investment tax credit. Buildings not currently on the National Register can use tax credits if they become listed.

Federal Program Provisions 

To quality for the Investment Tax Credit, a property owner must: 

• Have a certified historic structure. To be certified, the building must be listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places or be a contributing part of a historic district that is either listed on the National Register or certified as eligible for the National Register • Use the building for an income-producing purpose such as rental-residential, commercial, agricultural, or industrial 

• Rehabilitate the building in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s “Standards for Rehabilitation” and “Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings.” The National Park Service (NPS), with advice from the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office, determines whether a project meets the standards. 

• Spend an amount greater than the building’s adjusted basis (roughly the current depreciated value of the building not including land value) on the approved rehabilitation project 

• Complete the work in a timely manner. Projects must meet the minimum expenditure test within a two-year measuring period, but applicants may take up to five years to complete a phased project if the plans and specs are approved in advance of construction. 

• Pay a fee to the National Park Service that is based upon the qualifying rehabilitation expenditures.  

Minnesota State Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program 

In 2010 the State of Minnesota enacted a 20% historic preservation tax credit program. Minnesota’s state historic preservation tax credit will allow a state income tax credit equal to 20 percent of the cost of rehabilitating a qualifying historic property. The program mirrors the federal rehabilitation tax credit, a provision that has been in place since 1979. Projects are eligible to claim the state credit if they are allowed the federal credit, a program which requires properties to be listed in the National Register of Historic Preservation to qualify. Minnesota currently has over 1,600 listings in the National Register representing almost 7,000 individual properties. Projects must be income-producing to use the credit, therefore, homesteaded residential projects are not eligible. 

The Minnesota program allows the project proposers to choose either a certificated, refundable credit or grant option. The state grant, like the tax credit, comes at the completion of the project, and is equal to 90 percent of the allowable federal rehabilitation tax credit. The grant option may have some advantages in the syndication of tax credits, and widens the investor pool by allowing individuals, teams, and/or non-profit organizations to participate in the state program.

Minnesota Program Provisions 

The state provisions are the same as the federal provisions, with the exception that the tax credit would be available for a property that is any of the following: 

• Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

• Certified as a contributing element of a National Register Historic District. 

• Certified as historic by local heritage preservation commission or Certified Local Government. 

Though the Federal and State Credits require the same type of listing for a building - one of the few differences between the two credits is that for the State Credit, a project is disqualified from use of the State Credit if construction work begins prior to a complete Federal and State application is received by the Minnesota Historic Preservation Office (MNHPO).