Hillsborough County Historic Preservation Matching Grant Program

Hillsborough County’s Historic Preservation Matching Grant Program is designed to financially assist owners of not-for-profit designated local Landmarks (including private homes) in unincorporated Hillsborough County in performing exterior preservation and restoration activities. This matching grant is intended to encourage property owners of resources listed in the County’s Historic Resources Inventory to seek Landmark designation for their property, and to promote the preservation and restoration of Landmarks.

Eligible property owners may submit one grant application per year for each property, requesting a minimum amount of $1,500 and a maximum amount of $25,000 per application. The grant awarded cannot exceed one-half of the project’s overall costs, and property owners are required to match 100% of the grant awarded in cash or like-kind services (material and/or professionally rendered labor). Grant recipients are required to complete the project within one year of the award agreement date.

Projects qualified for the matching grant include but are not limited to: foundation walls, exterior siding, windows and exterior doors, roof repair or replacement, structural work, removal/disposal of exterior lead paint, and preventative maintenance, including termite damage. Architectural and engineering services for qualified projects may be included as a reasonable part of the overall approved project. Qualified projects must comply with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings.

Contact the County’s Historic Preservation Planner in at (813) 272-5920 for more information regarding qualified projects and for an application packet. Applications received before July 31 and reviewed by the Historic Resources Review Board (HRRB) prior to September 30 may be considered for the following fiscal year, which begins October 1. Applications may be received for consideration during the current fiscal year; however, applicants should be aware that the obligations of the County are subject to the availability of funds appropriated annually for this grant program. The current budget includes $50,000 for this fiscal year.

Applications should be submitted to the Hillsborough County Historic Preservation Planner for an initial determination of eligibility. Eligible applications are forwarded to the HRRB for review and evaluation. The HRRB recommends successful applications to the Board of County Commissioners for award approval.Upon completion of the project, an inspection is made based on scope of work outlined in the grant award agreement to ensure compliance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards. The Planning and Growth Management Department will authorize one payment disbursing the grant award to the applicant upon project completion. Documentation of project expenses (including the owner’s matching portion) will be required prior to grant disbursement.

Local Historic Preservation Ad Valorem Tax Exemption Programs

Owners of historic buildings in Florida considering rehabilitating their property have a variety of programs to choose from. In 1992, the Florida state constitution was amended to allow local governments the option of offering ad valorem tax exemptions on improvements to historic properties. The purpose of providing this exemption was to stimulate revitalization of historic properties and to ease the burden of maintaining these properties. This tax exemption program is available throughout Hillsborough County. Rehabilitation projects in the City of Tampa and the City of Plant City may also qualify for additional exemptions from city taxes.

Properties that qualify for the exemption from the county-wide tax are those designated as local landmarks, those listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or as contributing properties in a local or National Register historic district. In the City of Tampa and the City of Plant City, only locally designated landmarks and contributing structures within locally designated historic districts are considered eligible properties for exemption from city ad valorem taxes.

All applications for this tax exemption are reviewed by the appropriate local reviewing entity. These are the Barrio Latino Commission (BLC) for properties located within the Ybor City Historic District, the Tampa Architectural Review Commission (ARC) for all other qualifying historic properties located within the City of Tampa, the Plant City Historic Review Board (HRB) for historic properties located in the City of Plant City, and the Hillsborough County Historic Resources Review Board (HRRB) for historic properties located in unincorporated Hillsborough County.

Residential and non-residential properties may apply for this program. Improvements must be consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and meet criteria set by the Department of State (Chapter 1A- 38, Florida Administrative Code). A determination that the project is in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation must be made by the local reviewing entity. It is recommended (and required for properties in the City of Plant City) that Parts I (Evaluation of Property Eligibility) and II (Description of Improvements) of the application, with required documentation, be completed and submitted for review before the project is begun. Failure to obtain project approval prior to the initiation of construction leaves the owner at risk of failing to comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.

Part III (Request for Review of Completed Work) is to be submitted upon completion of the improvements. Prior to the review process, the property owner must complete a protective covenant stating that the character of the property and the qualifying improvements to the property will be maintained during the exemption period.

The local reviewing entity then makes its recommendation to the appropriate local governing body(ies), which may approve the exemption by ordinance. The local governing bodies are the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, the Tampa City Council, and the City Commission of the City of Plant City.

The exemption is for 100% of the increase in the assessed value of the improvements to the historic structure that results from rehabilitation. The exemption takes effect on January 1 of the year following the substantial completion of the improvements and is applicable for a 10-year period. It applies only to improvements to real property. When the property is sold, the exemption passes to the new owner.