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Historic Preservation

​Bellingham is home to a myriad of historic buildings dating back to the 19th century. These buildings give our community a unique and authentic character and help preserve our community's past. To encourage historic preservation and make use of already-existing buildings, we offer special tax valuations, permitting, building code flexibility and other incentives.

 

Get a 10-Year Property-Tax Reduction

Our Special Valuation Tax Credit program offers eligible properties a 10-year property tax reduction on upgraded historic buildings. To be eligible, the building must be listed in the National Register of Historic Places, certified as contributing to a National Register Historic District, listed on the City of Bellingham's Local Register of Historic Place or certified as contributing to a local historic district. The building must be substantially rehabilitated within a cost and time period that meets the requirements of Chapter 84.26 RCW.  

To learn whether you might benefit from this incentive, contact Planning Staff at planning@cob.org or 360-778-8300.

 

Apply for Special Uses

Your historic building might qualify for an adaptive-use permit. This type of permit may allow you to get approval for a use not typically allowed in a particular area. To apply, download the Land Use Application now.

For more information, see BMC 17.90.070 and contact Planning Staff and planning@cob.org or 360-778-8300.

 

Take advantage of the International Existing Building Code (IEBC)

Depending on your project's scope, you might qualify for changes to the building code that help you avoid potential obstacles and streamline your project. Changes might be approved under the IEBC as long as alterations comply with minimum health, structural, fire and life safety provisions. Learn more about design flexibility with our IBC and IEBC summary, or check out a 2013 presentation that provides an overview of historic building code flexibility.  

 

Get a 20% Federal Tax Credit

The Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit program offers a 20% tax credit for income-producing projects listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Learn more about this federal tax credit with this 2013 presentation by State Historical Architect, Nicholas Vann. You can also contact him directly with questions at nicholas.vann@dahp.wa.gov or 360-586-3079.

 

One Building at a Time

 City of Bellingham staff encourage adaptive reuse of historic buildings, and work with property owners to help them overcome challenges that may arise in bringing their old buildings up to date. This video highlights the rehabilitation of the historic Bloedel-Donovan Lumber Mill Headquarters at 100 Pine Street, located on the Bellingham Waterfront.

Contact Us for Help

Need help getting started? Contact us at planning@cob.org or 360-778-8300. 

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