Historic register status clears path for uptown renovation

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Merchants in Jackson's uptown business district can start receiving state and federal tax credits if they renovate their historic buildings.

The uptown historic district committee received notice last Friday that the area has officially been listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service.

For more than a year, the committee has been seeking the national listing. It was notified last August that Jackson's uptown was placed on the Missouri Department of National Resource's register of historic places.

Several uptown merchants have renovated their buildings and now with available tax credits, more merchants are expected to do so in the near future, said Tom Strickland, committee chairman and owner of two refurbished uptown buildings. "As renovations continue in uptown Jackson, it is anticipated that we will see new businesses and renewed interest in shopping the uptown."

The committee's next step in restoring the historic feel to the business district will be presenting the city of Jackson and Cape Girardeau County Commissioners with preliminary plans for enhancement projects. The plans include historic lighting, benches, a new walkway with benches and lighting on the courthouse lawn and the reconstruction of High Street to create additional parking.

"By receiving this distinction on the register, it gives us a few more points when applying for grants," Strickland said. The committee plans to seek various grants to fund the enhancement projects.

22 historic buildings

In all, 22 historic buildings on and surrounding Main and High streets are included in the historic district.

County Commissioner Gerald Jones and Jackson Mayor Paul Sander commended the efforts of the committee for seeking the listing on the national register.

"Tom's been at this a year and it's going to add a lot to Jackson's uptown," Jones said at a news conference Monday. "About 20 years ago, downtown merchants made a similar pitch for this, but they eventually gave up."

Historical consultant Melinda Winchester of Jackson prepared the application for the national register nomination. "It's been a pleasure working with the city and county and especially being from Jackson, I feel very proud of what we've accomplished," she said.

Mark Guilliams, owner of Direct Line Marketing at 102 S. Missouri St., has been restoring his building to its historic look. The 85-year-old building is a former machine shop.

"I think once the uptown merchants find out they can receive tax credits, a lot more will start to restore their buildings," he said. Guilliams received a 45 percent reimbursement of his renovation projects, which include new windows, paint and flooring.

jfreeze@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246

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