Dothan looks to expand its national downtown historic district

Updated: Dec. 20, 2016 at 6:35 PM CST
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DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - The city of Dothan is teaming up with McNair Historic Preservation to expand boundaries of its national downtown historic district.

Tuesday, the Dothan City Commission amended a resolution to add new properties, which comes with several benefits for the city and property owners.

Representatives from the McNair Historical Preservation, Inc. performed an evaluation of properties from the 1950s and early 1960s Tuesday to determine which ones are eligible for the national historic district expansion downtown. The Wiregrass Art Museum is one property they're looking to add.

The expansion will help maintain the district's historic national register status and provide several benefits, including historic tax credits, property tax reduction and rehabilitation incentives to fix up properties falling into disrepair.

The Coca-Cola bottling plant, the old fire station, city hall and the Carver Museum are a few others mapped out for the expansion that aren't currently in the national historic district.

"It's really not any drawbacks. It's a win-win for the property owner and the city," explained Stephen McNair, owner McNair Historic Preservation. "There's a misconception of being listed on be National Register will prevent you from altering your building or even tearing it down. That's really not the case. What it does is incentivizes property owners to maintain their buildings within the national perimeter of guidelines."

"Dothan has been around for a long time and some of these buildings have been empty for a long time," explained Mayor Mike Schmitz. "So this will give the owners an opportunity to do something really nice with them."

The next step in this process is to analyze potential additions to the National Historic District further. Officials will begin documenting the history of these properties and photographing buildings, then they'll send reports to state and federal historic preservation offices for evaluation.

Officials anticipate the project to be completed by the end of 2017.

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