Historic district designation for Downtown East incentivizes development

A rendering of the Electric Depot (DNA Workshop)

A 60-block area in Downtown East has been designated as the Eddie Robinson Sr. Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places. The designation enables developers to qualify for state and federal historic building tax credits to help offset the cost of renovating the district’s aging and blighted buildings.

Architect Dyke Nelson, who is redeveloping the former Entergy site on Government Street into the mixed-use Electric Depot, led the year-long effort to get the area placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Electric Depot is in the heart of the new district and the estimated $10 million project will be eligible for the tax credits.

“Having something out there that minimizes risk in any way for an underserved neighborhood is really important,” says Nelson, who has restored multiple downtown buildings, including 440 on Third Street and 500 Laurel Street. “The more tools you can put out there the better.”

The developer of a property that is more than 50 years old and part of a historic district is eligible to receive a 20% federal historic tax credit, which is carried forward, and a 20% state tax credit, which is rebated within the same year the expenditure is made.

Nelson says an incentive of up to 40% is significant, especially for properties in this district, which is bounded by North Boulevard to the north, S. 18th Street to the east, Terrace Avenue to the south and Interstate 110/10 to the west. He estimates some 75% of buildings contribute to the district and are potentially eligible for the tax credits.

Electric Depot, which sits on six acres and is being redeveloped by Weinstein Nelson Development, is intended to serve as a catalyst for redevelopment of the wider area. Slated to open this spring, it will include apartments, a community gathering and entertainment space, several new restaurants and a yoga studio, among others.

The historic district designation pays tribute to the late Eddie Robinson, the legendary Grambling State University football coach for more than 50 years in the latter half of the 20th century. Robinson died in 2007.

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