KEESEVILLE — The empty storefronts of small-town America are a statement on present economic trends, and they exist on almost every Main Street.
Added to the first-floor commercial emptiness is the former living space above, evidenced by windows without curtains, rooms without life.
This condition, which has crept into rural America over the past few decades, was the topic of a workshop held recently by Adirondack Architectural Heritage, the Preservation League of New York State, the State Office of Historic Preservation, Empire State Development Corp. and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.
“Enhancing Main Street: Making Upper Floors Work Again,” held at the renovated AuSable Valley Grange in Keeseville, featured several professionals in different fields who shared experience and information on the problem. Topics included how to apply for rehabilitation tax credits, make preservation and the building code work together and find funding sources for redevelopment.
The workshop targeted both commercial adventures and private ownership.
“There are several reasons to look at preservation rehabilitation,” said Sloane Bullough, Historic Preservation Program analyst with the State Office of Historic Preservation. “The craftsmanship of the old buildings is wonderful. There is a sense of place with them, a connection to the past. They are important.”
She went on to explain that there are tax credits for preservation work on both federal and state levels, but some of these will end in 2014. Anyone planning to apply should do so quickly.
Bullough encouraged attendees not to be turned away by what seems to be a complex process. With help from her office and others, it is attainable, she said.
‘DON’T FEAR REGISTER’
Erin Tobin of the Preservation League of New York State encouraged municipalities to apply to create historic districts, noting that the North Country is full of historic buildings, both commercial and private homes.