Incentives for Historic Preservation

Historic Seattle is an active advocate for the expansion of financial and honorific incentive programs that support the continued preservation of Seattle’s historic places. Economic assistance is often necessary for places to be restored or adaptively reused. Historic Seattle offers technical assistance to individuals and organizations interested in accessing the various forms of incentives available in the Seattle region.

Following is a list of some of the incentives available for preservation activities in Seattle and/or King County:

Tax Incentives

Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit. Income-producing properties such as commercial buildings and rental apartment buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places are eligible for a 20% income tax credit against qualified rehabilitation expenses. Income-producing buildings built before 1936 that are not certified historic structures, are eligible to receive a 10% income tax credit. For more information, go to the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation website.

Special Valuation for Historic Properties. Owners of Seattle and King County Landmarks, as well as contributors to National Register districts, are eligible to deduct qualified rehabilitation expenses from the assessed value of their property for 10 years. Qualified expenses must be approved by the relevant Landmarks Board and equal no less than 25% of the present assessed value of the property. For more information, go to Seattle’s Historic Preservation Program website.

Current Use Taxation. Owners of King County Landmarks are eligible to receive a property tax adjustment that reflects a property’s “current use” rather than the “highest and best use” of the improvements and land. For more information, go to King County’s Historic Preservation website.

Grants

Landmarks Capital Grants. Owners of Seattle and King County Landmarks, contributors to National Register districts and properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places in a community that has no operating landmarks ordinance are eligible for this “bricks and mortar” grant funding from 4Culture. The competitive Landmarks Capital Grants are offered to deserving preservation projects on an annual application basis. For more information, go to 4Culture’s website.

Heritage Capital Projects Fund. This state-funded program supports capital needs and facilities of heritage organizations, tribal governments, public development authorities and local government agencies that interpret and preserve Washington’s history and heritage. The biennial grant program is administered by the Washington State Historical Society and requires recipients to provide a two-to-one match. For more information, go to the Washington Historical Society’s grants website.

Heritage Cultural Facilities Grant. Nonprofits, public development authorities, and government agencies are eligible to apply for 4Culture’s cultural facilities grants, a competitive annual program. For more information, go to 4Culture’s website.

National Trust Preservation Funds. The National Trust for Historic Preservation administers several financial assistance programs for public, nonprofit and private parties. For more information, go to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s grant website.

Other Forms of Assistance

Zoning Code Relief. The City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development has the authority to allow flexibility of use, design standards, and parking requirements for owners of Seattle Landmarks. Zoning code exceptions are determined on a case-by-case basis. For more information, go to Seattle’s Historic Preservation Program website.

Building Code Relief. The City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development has the authority to modify specific building code requirements if a request is made by the owner of a Seattle Landmark. For more information, go to Seattle’s Historic Preservation Program website.

Transfer of Development Rights. Owners of Seattle Landmarks located in the downtown core are able to transfer or sell the unused development rights allowed by Land Use and Zoning Code to nearby properties. For more information, go to Seattle’s Historic Preservation Program website.

Preservation Easements. Historic Seattle, along with other nonprofit and government agencies, accept donations of easements on historic properties. Owners of buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places are eligible to receive a federal income tax deduction for donating an easement. For more information, go to our easement page.

More information on grants, tax incentives, loans and code relief can be found on the following websites:

City of Seattle Historic Preservation Program

Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation

Photo: 1937 view of the Western Building, Pioneer Square – Incentives used: federal historic tax credits and special valuation / Source: Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Branch