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Register considers value of historic preservation
Register historic Web
Cullen Chambers with the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center spoke Tuesday to citizens in Register about what it would take to earn a place for the Bulloch County town on the National Register of Historic Places. - photo by Special
    “Profiting from the Past” — How a community and homeowners can benefit by putting their property on the National Register of Historic Places was the subject of a town meeting in Register Tuesday night.  
    “I got very excited when I first visited Register over a year ago,” said Cullen Chambers, executive director, Tybee Island Historical Society.  
    Chambers also is president of the Technical Advisory Committee for the Historic Preservation Advisory Council of the Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center. Chambers spoke at a Register town meeting Tuesday night to address the potential prospects of a district nomination in Register to the National Register of Historic Places.  
    “This is one of the most incredible communities I’ve seen,” Chambers said. “You have so much history. You have so much to tell. So much to preserve.”  
    Chambers and Jason Kotarski, Historic Preservation planner with the Regional Development Center, spoke to Register citizens on the value of their historic community, and the potential benefits of obtaining a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
    “What are the real benefits,” asked Mandi Pilz, town administrator, who owns an historic home. “My home isn’t finished. Would I have to finish my home in order to qualify for this nomination?”  
    Chambers answered, “No.” Chambers qualified that property owners are not restricted in any way. Chambers touted the benefits of a National Register nomination to include federal tax credits, state tax incentives, qualifying for federal and state preservation grants [when available], and technical assistance on renovations.
    Also, Chambers said, “You’re giving tourists a destination, something of value, something you can’t reproduce, and most importantly, something you can’t find much of anymore.”  
    Chambers spoke about the character of the neighborhood that exists in Register, referencing stability and continuity.  
    “This is an awesome place,” he said. “These kind of communities are disappearing.”
Pilz also asked if historic designation raises property values.
    “Absolutely,” Chambers said.  “Without a shadow of a doubt. Resale value of historic property is usually higher for historic property than new construction because of the value of the material used, and most new materials won’t stand the test of time.”
    Mayor Katie O’Grady asked about the chances of a Register application being declined.
    RDC planner Kotarski answered:  “This town exemplyfies rural-agricultural Georgia to a T! It’s phenomenal. I love the vernacular represented here. These houses were built by master craftsmen.  It’s absolutely remarkable that there’s no repeating floor plan.”  
    Chambers and Kotarski made it clear that the application process was arduous.  
“This is the first step in a long journey,” Chambers said. “We’re here to assist in any way that we can. Any decisions made, are by your community.”
    O’Grady asked how long the application process usually takes and Chambers said it probably takes a year.  Chambers added that he has seen the process be successful in communities that were, “...a lot more distressed.”
    “It depends on what your plans are for your community,” Chambers said.  “It can continue to whither. But I see so much potential. This is a community on demand. It just depends on what the community wants to do. The community needs to reach consensus on whether they want to pursue the benefits of historic preservation.”
    O’Grady suggested a question and answer survey be delivered to citizens to determine their consensus.  
    “We’re here to lend any of our knowledge to promote your historical preservation efforts,” Chambers said. “We’ve targeted only three worthy communities, and Register is one of them.”

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