The Power Plant building on Fourth Street is eligible to be listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, according to a March 8 letter from the state, which would give a potential developer access to state and federal tax credits that could reimburse 40 percent of certain types of project costs.
Before the building can be registered as such a landmark, which is necessary to procure the tax credits, the Landmarks Commission must decide on the building’s boundaries.
It sits on the same parcel as the former public works building, which is slated for demolition, and the entire parcel is expected to be offered as part of the riverfront redevelopment. Registering the Power House – which was built sometime in the early 1900s – as a landmark would require cutting it out from that parcel.
The commission must decide whether to include the dam and so-called “head race” and “tail race” – the portions of water that entered and exited the Power House, respectively, and were used to create power.
If those are included, it could affect plans for a future whitewater park, which might involve removing the dam.
Landmarks Commission chair Peggy Veregin told the Hub including that infrastructure as part of the designation would not necessarily jeopardize plans to remove the dam, but instead trigger a different kind of investigation by the DNR. Veregin is also the State Historic Preservation Office’s National Register Coordinator.
She downplayed the effect the decision might have on a potential developer, pointing out that a firm that is seeking this type of tax credits would be familiar with the process. She estimated there are around 30 such firms in the state, and more regionally.
The process of registering the building would be on a “parallel track” to its development, Veregin said, with the designation only needing to be in place once the project is finished.