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TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI)–Throughout the country and our region, smaller cities are pushing to revitalize their downtown areas. As WCBI’s Allie Martin reports, officials in Tupelo are seeking a national designation that will serve as an incentive for economic development and could also bring in more sales tax revenue.

Like other cities throughout the region, many of the buildings in downtown Tupelo are 80, 90 or even a hundred years old. So Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association wants a portion of the area placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We’re doing this as an economic development incentive.”

Debbie Brangenberg is director of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Historical Association. She says achieving historic district designation status not only says that buildings in an area have made a contribution to the history of the community, it also provides a tax credit for property owners who improve their buildings.

“They can get up to a certain amount, up to 45 percent , both federal and state, if you put them together for the amount of the investment they put in there.”

The tax credit is good for a certain number of years and it is also transferable if the property owner sells the property.

A 20 block area would be considered for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. Officials tried to get the designation for downtown Tupelo in the early 1990s, but too many structures had been altered or changed. But in the past year or so, several businesses have moved into the downtown area and the exteriors have been reclaimed or remodeled to look like they did when they were first built.

Along with a welcomed tax credit for property owners who renovate their structures, Brangenberg says historical designation status can attract other businesses and create a unique look and feel that is not found in other business districts.

“It makes for a great ambiance downtown , a look of design that makes the streetscape beautiful, it’s enhancing.”

There is a process to get the coveted historical district status. Next month, local officials will present their case to the Mississippi National Register Review Board. If it is approved, the request then goes to the National Trust and a final decision could come in the fall.

On February 24th at 5 30, a public meeting will be held at Tupelo City Hall . Residents and business owners can find out more about the request for historical district status for the downtown area.

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