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Historic boost for Rochester's 19th Ward?

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Four areas in Rochester's 19th Ward may become National Historic Districts, which would make certain homeowners eligible for tax savings. These would be the first such districts in the neighborhood.

"From an economic development perspective, we see the 19th Ward as a neighborhood that's ripe to take advantage of the Homeowner Tax Credit because they've got a lot of great architecture that's pretty intact, really great pockets," says Caitlin Meives, preservation planner with the Landmark Society. "This can also highlight the 19th Ward as a great neighborhood to live in."

The area with the best potential to earn the designation is what's known as the Sibley Tract, Meives says. That would include Wellington, Woodbine, and Rugby avenues, as well as Aberdeen Street.

Other potential districts are Inglewood Drive at Thurston Road; a small section in the area of Chili and West avenues; and another small pocket at Arvine Heights and Elmwood Avenue, north of Genesee Valley Park.

The boundaries are preliminary and may change, say representatives of the 19th Ward Community Association, and not all of the homes within the boundaries would be "contributing" members of the district. Contributing members are homes with significant historic integrity, meaning there haven't been a lot of changes to their exteriors.

Contributing homeowners are eligible for the state Homeowner Tax Credit, the main advantage to being in a National Historic District, Meives says. The homeowners would be eligible for savings when investing a certain amount in rehabilitation work. They would also get some money back on routine repairs like roof replacement, Meives says.

The Landmark Society did the initial legwork, Meives says, and now it's up to the 19th Ward Community Association to pursue the designations through the State Historic Preservation Office.

LaShay Harris, head of the Community Association, says having the districts would strengthen the entire neighborhood.

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