Are there any tax benefits available for historic renovations?

For substantial commercial, industrial and rental housing rehabilitation projects, which comply with the Secretary of Interior’s standards, federal tax credits of up to 20 per cent are available. The application process is fairly complicated, but the tax credits can make the difference in a successful project, The process involves review at the state level. More information can be obtained from:

Michigan State Historic Preservation Office

Michigan State Housing Development Authority

735 E. Michigan Avenue

P.O. Box 30044

Lansing, MI 48909
Phone: (517) 373-1630


If You Have Any Questions, Contact:

Historic Preservation Staff
City of Grand Rapids Planning Department
1120 Monroe NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 456-3451;

Copies of the Ordinance and related standards and guidelines can be obtained from the Historic Preservation staff. This Information Provided By The City Of Grand Rapids.

Are the economics of repairing my property considered?

The economic burden of necessary renovations is considered in two ways:

  • there is no requirement to restore original features which have been lost prior to the historic designation of the property, although many owners do choose to do that;
  • if repair or maintenance of an existing feature will impose an extreme economic burden, an exception to the standards can be considered; the Commission will look at:
  • the cost of the rehabilitation work compared to the value the property will have once repaired;
  • the record of the applicant’s effort in ongoing maintenance;
  • alternative means of preservation or restoration available to the applicant.

What local guidelines are there?

The local guidelines (based of the guidelines from the Secretary of the Interior) can be found here:

Both the federal and local standards and guidelines are available inspection at the Planning Department at 1120 Monroe NW. In interpreting these standards and guidelines, previous decisions the Commission may be influential But changes which you may see in the neighborhood may have been made before the district was designated; may have been made illegally; or may have been based on special considerations which do not apply to your property. The local guidelines are generally better indicators of Commission action than previous decisions – particularly if those decisions were made prior to the adoption of the relevant guidelines.

What standards does the Commission use to evaluate the applications?

The Commission is required to apply the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings. The Commission has also adopted local guidelines which have been approved by the State.

In addition, the Secretary of the Interior has published Guidelines based on the standards which may be helpful to an applicant considering how to make appropriate changes to an historic structure.

The local policies and guidelines interpret the federal Standards on issues which arise frequently in Grand Rapids. The next section lists the current local guidelines.

Are there alterations which will not be approved?

There are alterations that may not be approved but such decisions are applied using the guidelines and standards as they relate to what is appropriate or inappropropriate for each specific structure, object and site as all are unique

  • installing vinyl or aluminum siding
  • installing vinyl or aluminum windows
  • painting a masonry surface which is not currently painted
  • sandblasting pressure grit washing, or high pressure water washing
  • removing or changing distinctive architectural details