The historic designation can occur at the Federal, State, and local level. A property is historic if it is listed on the National Register, Florida Inventory of Historic Places, or a local list of historic places. In the City of Stuart, properties are reviewed and listed on the City of Stuart Historic Properties Survey (PDF) (initially completed in 1991 by Historic Properties Associates, Inc, St. Augustine, Florida) and are maintained and amended by the City Development Department.
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Generally, historically significant properties are at least 50 years old, possess architectural, aesthetic or historical value. That value is typically judged by an association with events that have taken place over the course of time, for example, an association with a person who has made contributions to history, whose work is of architectural distinction, or is likely to yield information about our history or prehistory.
For structures or landmarks deemed significant to the City's architecture and history, historic preservation encompasses a wide range of activities such as:
National Historic Designation qualifies properties for federal grants, tax credits and deductions, and property consideration in the Federal planning process.
The State of Florida may provide grants through the Historic Preservation Grant Program to approved applicants. Buildings listed on the National Registry are considered highly competitive. Funds are allocated by the Florida Legislature.
Local Historic Designation by the City of Stuart and/or Martin County may qualify a property owner for a ten-year ad valorem tax exemption on the assessed value of pre-approved improvements to a historic structure. Eligibility for this exemption is determined by the Stuart City Commission and the Martin County Preservation Board. In addition, to promote adaptive re-use, locally designated properties in the City's Urban District may be eligible for a credit of up to a 50% against required off-street parking. From time to time, the City's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) may provide funding for historic preservation elements for those properties that qualify.
Historic preservation in the City is essentially voluntary. Property owners are provided with incentives to preserve and maintain historic structures. A waiting period of 30 or 90 days is applicable when a permit to demolish a historic building is sought, during which voluntary preservation options can be explored. As is the case with all buildings, owners of historic structures may not allow them to fall into disrepair.