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Vicksburg’s downtown historic district. Vicksburg’s downtown historic district. COURTESY PHOTO

Federal historic designation unlocks tax abatement tools for Vicksburg

BY Monday, October 17, 2022 05:56pm

VICKSBURG — The village of Vicksburg’s historic district, which includes 176 commercial, residential and community-related properties, has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The designation comes with economic development tools for property owners within the district, including the ability to apply for federal historic tax credits. 

“Not only is this an honor the entire village can take pride in, but it’s also most likely going to benefit us with economic incentives such as tax-credit programs,” Village Manager Jim Mallery said in a statement. “We are excited to add one more tool in our economic development toolkit.”

Located about 15 miles south of Kalamazoo, Vicksburg has a population of 3,700, according to the 2020 Census. In recent years, Paper City Development LLC has pursued an $80 million redevelopment to convert the village’s former Lee Paper Mill site into a mixed-use tourist destination. The paper mill site was added to the National Register in 2016.

Paper City Development owns and operates seven buildings in downtown Vicksburg. Some of those buildings have undergone degrees of interior and exterior improvements to ensure they meet historic standards. 

The development team backed the effort to obtain a national historic designation for the village’s historic district because it will allow building owners to access federal and state historic tax credits, said Jackie Koney, chief operating officer for Paper City Development. Federal historic tax credits are a more “straightforward tool” to access compared to the state historic tax credits, Koney said.

The redevelopment of the decommissioned paper mill has made “substantial” steps in finishing abatement work on the site. The project team plans to finalize the project design next year, Koney added.

“We are continuing to do the final design work for the interior (of the buildings),” Koney said. “We’re trying to find what is sustainable over the long haul and make sure we do it right. The hope is we’ll be done by 2026.”

Martha MacFarlane-Faes, deputy state historic preservation officer, made the formal nomination for Vicksburg earlier this year on behalf of the Vicksburg Village Council. Cheri Szcodronski, who serves as a historical consultant with Firefly Preservation Consulting LLC and Paper City Development, supported the effort.

“The process for listing a property on the National Register of Historic Places goes through a number of steps and this process can take anywhere from several months to a couple of years,” MacFarlane-Faes said in a statement. “To be on the National Register is not only a point of pride, but a tool for economic and community development. This is a wonderful designation for Vicksburg and a great way to celebrate its local history.”

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