As Lakewood experiences a resurgence in popularity and revitalization of its historic housing stock, one group doesn’t want residents to forget how it all started. LakewoodAlive, a nonprofit advocacy group, met with state officials June 18 to promote designating Detroit Avenue between Ethel Avenue and Bunts Road a historic district.
If approved, the district could be placed on the National Register of Historic Places as soon as September.LakewoodAlive’s application to make downtown Lakewood a historic district also includes listing part of Warren Road between Detroit Avenue and Franklin Boulevard.
In addition to its historic value, a historic designation is also a financial incentive tool. Buildings in historic districts are eligible for state and federal historic tax credits to pay for renovations. Owners will have to apply for the credits and adhere to guidelines set by the state if they would like a cost-effective way to maintain their property, according to information provided by LakewoodAlive.
“We have historic building stock and at the age that many of the buildings are, in some cases 80 to 120 years old, and there can become significant issues and we want to maintain the historic preservation and integrity of our building stock,” said LakewoodAlive Executive Director Ian Andrews. “While it does happen, we want to try to make sure to put incentives in place to help avoid that as much as possible.”
Those who apply for the tax incentive are eligible to receive a state tax credit of up to 25% for rehabilitation of historic properties if their building is more than 50 years old. Property owners in a designated historic district won’t have to spend money to apply for a designation, Andrews said.
LakewoodAlive has been working on designating the 1-mile stretch of road a historic district since the early 2000s. The project is being funded by a Historic Preservation Pipeline Grant and a Ohio History Connection Certified Local Government Grant as well as a small grant from the city that total $25,000.
“This has been a long time coming and we knew going in that it would require a significant educational effort to help folks understand how something like this works,” Andrews said. “We wanted to make sure we are maintaining our historic buildings and preserve our history.”
The stretch of road serves as an important cultural hub for the city. Restaurants including Voodoo Tuna, Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar and Nature’s Oasis as well as Beat Cycle run along Detroit. The site of the former Lakewood Hospital also falls into the proposed historic district.
Detroit Avenue also holds historic significance. It was once home to a Bailey’s Department store and a cemetery where Einstein Bros. Bagels now stands.The city’s population grew as Detroit Avenue and Madison Avenue were on the streetcar lines, Andrews said.
This would be the fourth historic designation in Lakewood and the third historic district. Downtown Lakewood would join the likes of the Erastus Day House, the Birdtown neighborhood and the Clifton Park Lakefront District, which incorporates neighborhoods on Clifton Boulevard and Webb and Lake roads.
Lakewood was originally part of Rockport Township, which was established in 1809 and incorporated as a city in 1911. Andrews hopes that the designation will honor the past while setting up the city’s future.
“This is an honorific designation,” he said. “There’s a lot of folks who seek out historic communities to visit or to live in, so when they see there are communities embracing these historic preservations, there are people who want to invest in that community.”
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