Historic Preservation

Historic Preservation

Incentives for Owners of Historic Properties

Riverside County CourthouseBecause the preservation of historic buildings is an important public benefit, the City, State, and Federal governments have developed some incentives that can assist in the restoration, maintenance and rehabilitation of cultural resources.

  • Fee Exemptions and Reductions
    In order to promote quality rehabilitation, restoration and new construction projects, Planning Department fees are waived for the design review of cultural resources or for new construction within historic districts. Fee reductions are also available for the relocation of qualified historic single-family residences.
  • Landmark Plaque Program
    The City recognizes locally-designated Landmark properties with bronze display plaques that are available free of charge. Property owners enter into an agreement with the City to display and maintain the plaques.
  • Mills Act
    Link to the Mills Act information page to find out about tax incentives for historic property owners.
  • Technical Assistance
    The Historic Preservation Specialist in the Planning Department can provide technical assistance to property owners, architects, and contractors to ensure that historic resources are appropriately maintained, repaired, rehabilitated, or restored, and that new construction is compatible with adjacent historic buildings. The Planning Department also has a variety of technical literature and hand-outs available free of charge. These include Citywide Residential Historic District Design Guidelines and Rehab Riverside Right.
  • Redevelopment Agency Assistance
    Some properties in Redevelopment Project Areas may be eligible for financial assistance on a case-by-case basis. Please call (951) 341-6511.
  • Riverside Housing Development Corporation (RHDC)
    Sponsored by the City of Riverside Redevelopment Agency, this not-for-profit corporation administers a variety of housing rehabilitation programs for low and moderate-income homeowners within the city. For more information call RHDC at (951) 341-6511.
  • Zoning
    The Zoning Code has a provision that allows the owner of a historic home to use that home for an office, retail business, or a bed-and-breakfast without the need to rezone the property to a commercial or office zone. To take advantage of this, the owner must apply for and obtain a Minor Conditional Use Permit (MCUP).

    The MCUP process includes notification of neighborhood property owners, an analysis of the suitability of the property for the proposed use, and consideration of any potential compatibility problems with neighboring properties. The residence must be officially designated as a historic resource (Structure of Merit or Landmark) by the City before an MCUP can be applied for. Contact the Planning Department if you are interested in taking advantage of this provision.

    Within the Downtown Specific Plan area a new use can be established in an existing historic building without the necessity of providing parking in accordance with the Zoning Code. To qualify for this, the buildings must have a historic designation (Structure of Merit, Landmark, or Contributor to a historic District). The Downtown Specific Plan area is roughly bounded by the Riverside Freeway, Locust Street, the Tequesquite Arroyo, and First Street, with extensions to the 60 Freeway along Main and Market Streets. Contact the Planning Department for more details.
  • State Historical Building Code
    Owners of designated cultural resources are eligible to use the State Historical Building Code (SHBC). The SHBC recognizes the unique construction problems inherent in historical buildings and offers alternative building regulations for their rehabilitation, preservation, restoration, or relocation in order to retain character-defining architectural elements and features.

    The SHBC applies to both the interior and exterior of a building. The City uses the SHBC as part of the historic preservation design review process. Application of the SHBC to interiors is typically at the request of a property owner. While interpretation of the SHBC is carried out at the local level, appeals can be made to the State Historical Building Safety Board. City staff in the Planning Department offers assistance to property owners in applying the SHBC.
  • California Heritage Fund Program
    The California Heritage Fund grant program is funded under the State Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2000. Grants may be used for acquisition, rehabilitation, restoration or interpretation projects and are available for any product, facility or project designed to preserve a historic resource that is listed in or determined eligible for listing in the National or California registers.

    Entities that may receive funds are cities, counties, districts and local agencies formed for park purposes, nonprofit organizations, and recognized California Indian Tribes. The program requires a 50% match from the grantee. The program is administered by the State Office of Historic Preservation, and there are two grant funding cycles per year. State Office of Historic Preservation Grants & Funding
  • Federal Income Tax Credits
    Income-producing historic buildings that are listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places may qualify for a federal income tax credit of 20% of the cost of rehabilitation. A tax act project requires certification by the National Park Service that the work meets the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties. The State Office of Historic Preservation reviews all applications for rehabilitation tax credits. Owners of some of Riverside's most important commercial buildings, including the Mission Inn, have received tax credits for their rehabilitation projects.
  • Facade Easement Donation
    A charitable tax deduction for donating a facade easement to a nonprofit or publicly supported organization is available to owners of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In exchange for a charitable deduction on federal income taxes, the property owner authorizes the nonprofit organization to review exterior alterations to the building thereby assuming responsibility for protecting the historic and architectural integrity of the property. Facade easements are recorded on the property deed in perpetuity. Although it is desirable to donate a facade easement to a local organization, preservation of non-profits from other cities offer this program to owners of historic buildings throughout the country. National Park Service Federal Tax Incentives
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