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Officially Historic: Covington Neighborhood Added to National Register

Efforts to stabilize the housing market in Latonia continue to gain momentum with the successful nomination of the Ritte’s East Historic District.
 
After over a year of surveys, research, and multiple drafts, the Kentucky Heritage Council recommended that Ritte’s East be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At the end of August, the National Parks Service in Washington D.C. gave final approval. Now homeowners, investors, landlords, and homebuyers can utilize the State of Kentucky’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program to make property improvements and build equity.
 
Passion, pride of their neighborhood, and Latonia’s rich history inspired residents and members of the Latonia Small Area Study to apply for national register status. 
 
“It's wonderful to have official recognition of the uniqueness of Latonia's housing stock," said Donna McGee Horine, a resident and member of the Latonia Small Area Study Action Group. "It will be a substantial selling point in our marketing of the great residential and commercial opportunities available in Latonia. Charm and history can't be manufactured and are one of our greatest assets.”
 
Lisa Gilham, resident and Latonia historian, availed herself to the project and spent hundreds of hours working with Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington (CGN) to craft the narrative portion of the nomination form. "I've longed for years for the Milldale/Ritte's East area of Latonia to be on the National Register of Historic Places, and to become part of the wealth of Covington's National Register neighborhoods," Gilham said. "It has a broad range of house styles and sizes mixed together--from large Victorians, to early 20th-century two-story homes, to cottages - all retaining the historic character that defines Latonia. Latonia has never lost its sense of community, and this recognition honors the men and women who built this neighborhood. It helps us think about those who lived here before us, and what their lives were like--what their stories were. It also lends the neighborhood a certain panache, will allow homeowners access to historic tax credits, and make the area more appealing to home buyers."
 
Marty Perry with the Heritage Council (Kentucky’s State Historic Preservation Office) was also critical in the development of the nomination form and offered immense support and guidance throughout the entire process. The nomination form can be found on the Heritage Council website, as well as the National Parks Services website. 
 
This historic district nomination is one permutation of the Center’s active role in the Covington community and represents the implementation of the Latonia Small Area Study. In 2009, Latonia was identified as necessary study area by the Center, the City and neighborhood residents. People reported that issues were beginning to yield undesirable characteristics in the neighborhood and requested the City take action to improve the area. Thus an analysis of the Latonia neighborhood of Covington was conducted throughout 2009 and 2010. Kenton County Planning and Development Services (PDS - formerly known as the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission) partnered with the City and the Center to lead the planning process and formalize a realistic plan for the Latonia neighborhood. In 2011 the City adopted the plan, known as the Latonia Small Area Study, and the Center assumed the role to create a plan implementation team and bring plan goals to fruition. Leading the SAS Implementation 
Team, the Center- in partnership with residents, the City, and PDS have made great strides in addressing issues in Latonia.
 
Ritte’s East Historic District includes 692 structures, 628 of which are “contributing” and 64 “non-contributing”. Contributing means that the structure is 50 years old or more and bears historic significance to the development of the area. Structures deemed non-contributing are either less than 50 years old or have undergone such significant alterations that the existing structure is significantly dissimilar from its original appearance and floor plan. 
 
The Ritte’s East Historic District is bounded on the north by the CSX railroad tracks just north of E. 36th Street. On the east it continues to the Twin Oaks Golf Club and the Licking River frontage. On the south it extends to 40th Street. On the west it is bounded by Winston/Decoursey Avenue, overlapping with the Ritte’s Corner National Register Historic District. The Holy Cross National Register Historic District, designated in 1986, is within these boundaries. 
 
The proposed district includes much of what was once known as Milldale, also the entirety of the area known as Dinmore Park.
 
Contributing structures are eligible to for the State of Kentucky’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program. The credit is intended as an incentive for private investment in historic buildings throughout the Commonwealth. Several key points of the Kentucky Historic Preservation Tax Credit are as follows:
 
• -30% of qualified rehabilitation expenses is offered as a state tax credit for owner-occupied residential properties. A minimum investment over 24 consecutive months of $20,000 is required, with the total credit not to exceed $60,000.
 
• -20% of qualified rehabilitation expense is available for all other properties, requiring a minimum investment of $20,000. The total credit for a project must not exceed 
$400,000.
 
The Center for Great Neighborhoods, the Latonia Small Area Study, and the City of Covington will host an information session this winter to explain the guidelines and process to secure the tax credit. 
 
For any questions regarding the nomination process please contact Clare Norwood at [email protected]. Information on the instructions and guidelines can be found on the Kentucky Heritage Council website.
 
-Staff report