In my six years on the Preservation Commission, there were only 4 people who said they didn’t know their property was a landmark.

All four abided by the Commission’s decisions, one backed up by the City Council. (The owner hadn’t got a building permit either).

  • The plan to put landmark/historic district status on the title/deed is like closing the barn door after the horse has gone to the Kentucky Derby.  Prospective buyers do not search the title until a few days/weeks before closing on the deal.  If they were to find out at closing that their property was a landmark there could be hell to pay, especially for the realtor and seller. This is not a useful way to notify people before they buy!
  • The Preservation League of Evanston is preparing an educational visit to all Evanston Realtors to inform them about the preservation process.  We will also give them brochures to give to prospective clients.  The first such meeting will take place within the next few weeks.
  • The League is also researching how landmark/historic district status can be noted on the MRED listing form which is given to alll prospective buyers.  This would be filled out by the realtor, thus necessitating the visit described above. This would be ample notice to the prospective buyer.
  • The League will also pursue the possibility of placing a flag on the City’s website that would say: “So you want to buy a house in Evanston.” This would direct the person to the About My Place page that gives a complete description of the property, including landmark/historic district status.
  • Recently, the tenor of the discussion on preservation review has been quite negative. For some reason, the positive aspects have not been mentioned. I will not discuss the advantages of preserving a community’s history and built environment here.   The Cook County tax freeze available for commission-approved renovations is a chief reward for preservation work.  This tax freeze is for eight years, and the assessed value is then returned to current over four more years, for a total of 12 years of significant tax relief. It’s too bad Mr. Kimball can’t take advantage of this for his window replacements that caused this whole situation. 
  • Another positive aspect, substantiated by numerous studies in various parts of the country, is that landmarks and properties in historic districts can command higher resale value, all other things being equal.

Mary Brugliera is former member, and current associate member, of the Evanston Preservation Commission.

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3 Comments

  1. Property tax freeze

    The tax freeze is so often mentioned as a great benefit, but it should be understood that the homeowner needs to undertake a rehabilitation project that will cost in excess of 25% of the home's fair market value, and new additions to the home and landscaping or deck work cannot be included in that cost. This is a very substantial investment to make. I can't imagine that the new windows for Mr. Kimball would have so simply qualified him for the freeze.

    The freeze is then applied to the assessed value, not the final tax itself, so changes to the tax rates will still dictate your final taxes, and the freeze is most valuable in times of rising house prices, which have been lacking of late.

  2. landmark status

    Several years ago when I applied for a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace all my windows. There was never any mention of a possible Property Tax Freeze by the Preservation Committee.

    My experience with trying to resell has been a good per cent of interested parties. Want no part of them. No need to mention why.

  3. Preservation

    Thank you to all of the Preservation Commission members for the work that they do. Educated people understand how important our historic homes and character are to all Evanstonians.The presence of maintained historic properties make Evanston a desirable community and helps to protect the property values of all property owners.  Those disinterested in protecting their historic homes or properties may be happier in a community of a more recent vintage – just drive west where the housing stock is younger, uglier and less desirable than the housing stock in Evanston.

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