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Renaissance Zone catching on

By Staff | May 28, 2009

Rugby’s Renaissance Zone program has received lukewarm interest since it was established four years ago as an incentive for residents and commercial property owners to renovate homes and buildings.

However, interest is picking up, says Karla Harmel, Renaissance Zone committee member.

The committee last week reviewed and approved two applications and then send them on to the Rugby City Council for consideration at its meeting this Monday, June 1. One was for improvements to a home and the other to a commercial building along Main Ave. South.

If the council OKs the applications this week, they will be forwarded to a state Renaissance Zone commission for review and possible approval by mid to late June, according to Harmel.

The zone encompasses the downtown business district, but also includes several residential blocks. It was extended a few years ago to include more residential property north of First St.

Since it was established, just a few applications have been processed. Several have been picked up, but for whatever reason, they were not filed, Harmel said.

Harmel encourages anyone with property in the zone who is planning to do some improvements to seriously look into applying for Renaissance Zone tax relief. “Even if they are looking into construction in the fall, or next year, get the paperwork in early,’ she said.

Contrary to some belief, the application process moves along fairly quickly, and there is also the misconception that a lot of work must be planned for someone to benefit from the program. Harmel said renovation costs often add up, and residents may be surprised that their small projects would qualify.

What are the benefits?

Participants of the program are eligible to receive property tax relief as well as income tax credit. The program stipulates there must be a minimum dollar amount of improvements completed. For residential property, it’s at least $10,000, or 20 percent of the true and full value. For commercial property it’s $10,000, or 50 percent of the true and full value. No improvements can begin to areas of the property identified in the application until approval is granted. Only work within the designated zone is eligible.

Rugby is one of several communities – large and small – which have established Renaissance Zones. For more information, contact Harmel at City Hall, 776-6181.

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