Excerpt from The Frederick News-Post:
For all the charges of obstructionism made against it, the vast majority of applications are approved. And the commission does play a useful role in guiding development. Consider the case of those South Market facades. The developer’s original plans for the site called for “a six-story building with an exposed steel structure on the top four stories.” But, working with city planning and preservation staff, the developer revised his plans, eventually proposing a three-story brick structure that fit with its surroundings. The process worked. Or it did, right up to the point that the commission reversed its previous decision to allow the demolition …
And then there are the development and investment incentives attached to the historic district. Federal historic preservation tax credits that allow investors in commercial and rental properties to recoup 20 percent of their rehab costs have been critical to numerous downtown renovation projects (the Francis Scott Key Hotel, for instance). Both commercial properties and homeowners in the historic district can also take advantage of a similar state of Maryland income tax credit and the city offers a property tax credit, too (although for exterior work only).
No wonder that while the HPC has no shortage of critics, it also has staunch defenders, people who consider it the secret — maybe even sole — ingredient to downtown’s success. “If Frederick didn’t have the Historic District it would be just another Hagerstown or worse,” as one proponent put it on Facebook.