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The Brewers Hill Historic District could be added to the National Registry of Historic Places, a designation that provides tax incentives for property owners as well as a limited amount of federal protection. Near the intersection of Hudson and Fagley streets, a screen painting of the Natty Boh logo looks out on the street a block over from the former National Brewery. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Brewers Hill aims for national historic designation

Beer barons are gone, but East Side neighborhood growing

Baltimore’s Brewers Hill neighborhood may soon be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, giving owners of income-producing property access to tax credits for significant improvements to historic structures.

Patrick Andrus, a historian with the National Register of Historic Places, said the neighborhood’s application to be listed on the register arrived on Nov. 7. The register takes action on applications within 45 days, and Andrus said a decision on whether to add the neighborhood could come sometime around Christmas.

“We review the applications to makes sure the property has been shown to meet the National Register criteria for evaluation … and then we take the final action on listing it,” Andrus said. ”So, this one seems to be proceeding normally.”

Properties are nominated to the register usually by the state. Although, federal agencies that own properties and various tribal preservation offices may also nominate districts or structures. The Brewers Hill Historic District was nominated by the Maryland Historical Trust, a state agency dedicated to preserving the state’s past. Calls to the trust for comment on this story were not returned.

Being listed on the register is designed to encourage preservation through a variety of incentives. But being added to the register does not place any restrictions on what a private property owner may do with their building so long as they’re not using federal funds.

“It’s the federal government saying, “You have a historically architecturally or archaeologically important property. So, it brings attention to the property, which can help in efforts to preserve and raise money to rehabilitate buildings and that sort of thing,” Andrus said.

One of the major incentives of being located on the register is a 20 percent investment tax credit available to owners of income-producing buildings, such as commercial, industrial or rental properties that are certified historic rehabs, according to the register’s website. The credit can also be combined with a “straight-line depreciation period” of more than 27 years for residential and more than 31 years for commercial properties.

“The rehabilitation work has to be approved by the National Park Service as meeting standards for historic rehab, you have to spend a certain amount of money,” Andrus said. “It’s not designed for small projects. It’s designed for major rehabilitations.”

The East Baltimore neighborhood, located north of Canton and east of Patterson Park, has attracted its fair share of development in recent years. That includes the nearby mixed-use rehab of the 27-acre site that was once home to the National and Gunther breweries. That development, named after the neighborhood, includes three apartment buildings with more than 800 units, 40,000 square feet of retail space and as well as additional office space.