Financial Incentives

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 218 & 232 Main St in 1913

There are many local, state and federal programs available to assist qualifying rehabilitation projects. Although the emphasis of many of these may not be historic preservation, a historic rehabilitation project is not precluded from receiving funding, if the project meets the required criteria. Programs listed below that include the word "historic" in their title are specific to historic preservation.

 - LOCAL -

Urban Revitalization Tax Abatement Program

The City of Ames' Urban Revitalization Program, is based on Chapter 404 of the Code of Iowa and offers partial abatement of property taxes when the value of property improvements increases more than 5% for qualifying projects located in an urban revitalization area. Each program or area has different emphasis and plan.

The Downtown URA- offers tax abatement for visibly improving the façade of non-residential uses or vacant downtown buildings, within the defined URA. Qualifying improvements must follow the Downtown Design Guidelines.

Downtown Façade Assistance Program

The Downtown Facade Assistance Program is limited to a portion of the Main Street Cultural District. Qualifying improvements must follow the Downtown Design Guidelines. It includes matching grants of up to $15,000 along with professional design assistance of up to $1,000.


One section of the Design Guidelines applies to non-residential buildings that are generally more than 50 years old and were built with the historic retail commercial storefront. Improvements to a historic façade requires the replacement of non-compliant elements with compliant elements.

 - STATE -

State Historic Preservation and Cultural & Entertainment District (HPCED) Tax Credit Program

The State HPCED Tax Credit Program provides a STATE income tax credit for the sensitive, substantial rehabilitation of historic buildings. It ensures character-defining features and spaces of buildings are retained and helps revitalize surrounding neighborhoods. The program provides an income tax credit of up to 25% of qualified rehabilitation expenditures.

Building must be historically significant by meeting at least one of the following criteria:

  • Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places or determined by the staff at the State Historic Preservation Office to be eligible for listing
  • Building is contributing to the significance of a historic district that is listed on or eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • Building is designated as a local landmark by city or county ordinance

Temporary Historic Tax Exemption Program

This program provides a LOCAL property tax incentive for the sensitive, substantial rehabilitation of historic buildings. While all counties are required to offer this exemption, not all counties have set priorities for the program. Here is a link to Story County's program. The program provides a combination of four years full exemption from any increased valuation due to the rehabilitation, followed by four years of property tax increases (25% per year) up to the new valuation.

Historical Resource Development Program (Grant)

This program provides grants to help preserve, conserve, interpret, enhance, and educate the public about Iowa's historical assets (includes historic preservation). The following broad project types can be funded with Historical Resource Development Program grants:

• Acquisition and development of historical resources

• Preservation and conservation of historical resources

• Interpretation of historical resources

• Professional training and educational programs on the acquisition, development, preservation, conservation and interpretation of historical resources

Emergency Historical Resource Development Program (Grant)

These grants are for Iowa historical resources that require timely action to prevent immediate loss of the resource. The threat to the resource cannot be the result of the delinquency of the current owner.


Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program (Tax Credit)

This program encourages private sector investment in the rehabilitation and repurposing of historic buildings. The federal tax incentives program for Iowa properties is administered by the National Park Service (NPS) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in partnership with the State Historic Preservation Office of Iowa. Complete information is available from Technical Preservation Services.