Designation makes homes, commercial buildings eligible for rehabilitation tax credits
An approximately 60-block area of Highland Springs has been added to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
Henrico County sought approval of the Highland Springs Historic District to recognize the community’s significance as a streetcar suburb of Richmond and its extensive architecture from 1890 through 1969. The district contains more than 1,000 historic resources, including homes and commercial buildings, that may be eligible for state and federal tax credits to offset the costs of rehabilitation projects.
“With its listing on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, the Highland Springs Historic District receives recognition that it richly deserves,” said Varina District Supervisor Tyrone E. Nelson, who also serves as vice chairman of the Henrico Board of Supervisors. “Highland Springs is truly a one-of-kind place in eastern Henrico, with a wide variety of historic homes, small-town charm and ample opportunities for growth and reinvestment.”
The Highland Springs Historic District encompasses the Nine Mile Road commercial corridor and surrounding residential area bisected by Holly Avenue. Established in 1890, the area’s early residential development was gradual and followed the construction of an electric trolley line from downtown Richmond. The community’s growth continued through a building boom that followed World War II.
Today, Highland Springs displays a variety of residential architectural styles and periods, including Colonial Revival, Craftsman, Italianate, Queen Anne, Tudor Revival, Folk Victorian and Dutch Revival. The Art Deco-style Henrico Theatre, operated by the Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks, is the only building in Highland Springs previously listed in the state and national registries.
With the addition of the Highland Springs Historic District, Henrico now has two historic districts and 30 individual property listings on both the state and national registries. The Highland Springs district represents one of the largest historic districts in Virginia added to the registries in the past decade, with more than 1,000 homes and other resources that contribute to its historic character. These include homes, commercial buildings and such features as Bonanza Springs, from which Highland Springs derives its name.
Recognition of the Highland Springs Historic District offers a variety of benefits, including:
• State and federal tax credits totaling up to 45 percent of a project’s costs when property owners rehabilitate homes and other buildings recognized as contributing resources to the historic district. Additional financial incentives are available with the donation of preservation easements;
• Increased public awareness of the community’s historic resources and support for their preservation;
• Educational resources for schools, historical societies and other interested members of the public; and
• Opportunities for property owners to receive technical assistance through the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
“A historic designation does not affect or limit a property’s zoning or the ability of the property owner to make changes to the appearance of the structures on the property,” said S. Mark Strickler, director of the Henrico Department of Community Revitalization, which guided the process to earn historic designation. “Property owners wishing to take advantage of the historic tax credits will need to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.”
Strickler added, “In addition to historic tax credits, commercial property owners along Nine Mile Road can take advantage of grants and other incentives through the Enterprise Zone program, and both commercial and residential properties may qualify for local property tax abatement for improvements.”
A letter from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and a brochure about the Highland Springs Historic District will be mailed to the owners of homes and other properties in the district to explain the designation. In the coming weeks, Henrico will launch a website — historichighlandsprings.com — to provide information about the area’s history as well as maps of the historic district, photos and other property information, details on applying for tax credits and links to other resources.
The Highland Springs Historic District was added to the Virginia Landmarks Register in December and the National Register of Historic Places in May. Local, state and federal funds and grants offset the costs for historic surveys and related work to prepare the application for historic designation. Information on the Highland Springs Historic District also is available on the Henrico County Government YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/8jIJMPmuZ4w.