A variety of programs at the municipal, state, and federal levels offer assistance to help move forward the redevelopment of historic mills and factories. The resources outlined below are intended to provide useful information, however you should contact the administering entities directly for details on currently available programs.
You can also reach out to the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, whose staff have expertise on a broad range of preservation issues, tax credits, and economic incentives for rehabilitation.
Designating a property as architecturally and historically significant can encourage preservation, promote awareness, and protect a sense of place and character of our communities. Grants and historic tax credits are available for planning and development of mills and factories on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and are administered by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). More information can be found under ‘Financial Incentives’ below and at the SHPO website.
National Historic Landmark is the highest level of designation available. Properties given this foremost form of recognition are deemed significant to all Americans because of their exceptional values or qualities, which help illustrate or interpret the heritage of the United States. The National Historic Landmark program identifies, designates, recognizes and protects buildings, structures, sites and objects of national significance.
As of 2017, Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Mfg. Co. in Hartford and the Cheney Brothers Mfg. Co. Silk Mill in Manchester are National Historic Landmarks.
The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official list of historic buildings and sites worthy of preservation. Listing on the Register indicates that a property is significant because of its architecture or its association with important persons, events or cultural events. Listing does not restrict what a property owner may do with the property unless the owner is using federal or state assistance.
As of 2017, approximately 240 historic industrial sites are listed on the National Register either individually or as contributing resources in historic districts.
The State Register of Historic Places is the official listing of those sites important to the historical development of Connecticut. Listing on the State Register does not restrict the rights of the private property owner.
As of 2017, approximately 45 historic industrial sites are listed on the State Register either individually or as contributing resources in historic districts. The Making Places survey has identified 427 as candidates for listing, and nearly 300 more for future consideration.
The State Historic Resource Inventory identifies and evaluates historic, architectural, archaeological, cultural and industrial resources. Surveys which serve as the basis for most other designations are also useful tools for municipal officials, local planners, preservationists, property owners and researchers in helping them make sound preservation and development decisions. There are no restrictions associated with the Historic Resources Inventory.
Making Places: Historic Mills of Connecticut is a State Historic Resource Inventory completed in 2017.
Local Historic Districts/Properties offer the most protection for significant architectural buildings and neighborhoods in the State of Connecticut. State law allows municipalities to establish historic districts and historic properties for which exterior architectural changes are reviewed by a local preservation commission. This allows towns that have Local Historic Districts/Properties to ensure that alterations, additions, or demolitions are in keeping and consistent with the special character of the designated area.
As of 2017, fewer than 10 historic industrial resources have been identified as contributing resources in Local Historic Districts.
State and federal historic tax credits are administered by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program (administered through CT SHPO):
[10% on in use non-historic (pre-1937) non-residential depreciable buildings with substantial rehabilitation - phased out as of 2018];
20% on in use certified historic (on National Register) depreciable buildings with substantial rehabilitation to Secretary of Interior (SOI) Standards.
25% on certified historic (on State Register) buildings with 5 or more residential units and/or nonresidential use;
30% on such projects with an affordable housing component (20% if they are rental units or 10% if they are for-sale units).
Rehabilitation must meet SOI Standards.
As a non-profit, the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation can partner with developers on state historic tax credit projects to reduce federal income taxes and make more equity available for the project itself.
39% of total qualified investment amount in economically depressed Qualified Census Tracts claimed over seven years.
Available to Community Development Entities (CDEs) serving low-income communities.
4% on acquisition and substantial rehabilitation funded with tax-exempt bonds;
9% on substantial rehabilitation without federal tax-exempt bond funding.
Above apply to low- or mixed-income housing developments (some assisted living projects are eligible).
Also up to $500,000 annually in state tax credits for non-profit corporation housing developer, sponsor or manager.
Municipalities and economic development agencies eligible for grants of up to $4 million in Brownfields funds for assessment, remediation and development activities.
Maximum $200,000 grant to develop a comprehensive implementation plan for the remediation and redevelopment of neighborhoods, districts, corridors, downtowns, waterfront zones or other areas with multiple brownfields.
Brownfield owners or purchasers eligible for low-interest loans of up to $2 million in Brownfields funds for assessment, remediation and development activities.
Grants of up to $300,000 for assessment and planning at historic industrial Brownfield properties.
Liability relief from off-site contamination assessment and remediation for municipalities, innocent owners, purchasers and developers of Brownfield properties. Contact the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) for details.
Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) offers free webinars, as well as resources and advisory services available with membership, to provide assistance to communities looking to finance redevelopment of brownfield sites. The program is funded by the US EPA.
State authorized financing tool used by local municipalities for economic development; the difference between taxes generated before and after investment in a property finance a portion of the costs of its redevelopment. This tool is generally adopted by municipalities in response to specific situations. Connecticut Main Street Center has been at the advocacy and implementation forefront of this tool.
Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT):
Some towns may offer PILOT programs for redevelopment projects on land owned by the town.
Local authorities may institute overlay zoning districts and regulations to encourage or place limits on certain types of development in particular neighborhoods. They are in addition to existing zoning regulations. In Southington for example, Redevelopment Overlay Districts were outlined in the Plan of Conservation and Development to encourage reuse and compatible redevelopment of historic industrial areas. The Town of Putnam’s Industrial Heritage Overlay District seeks to preserve and reuse its historic mills.
Matching grants up to $50,000 for discrete maintenance and preservation projects. Property must be owned by a municipality or nonprofit organization. A preservation easement is placed on the property upon project completion.
Construction financing, permanent financing and secured bridge loans for rehabilitation projects; projects must use 100% union construction labor.
Connecticut Property Assessed Clean Energy financing for energy upgrades, such as thermal windows and solar energy; each municipality must opt into the program for businesses to access financing. Check to see if your municipality has opted in.
Direct loans for planning, acquisition, and renovation uses for projects with strong economic development potential.
Consistent with the Conservation & Development Policies Plan for Connecticut 2013-2018, the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) offered competitive grants ($25,000 to $2million) to municipalities and Regional Councils of Governments (COGs) to support construction projects that expand on Transit Oriented Development or responsible growth goals. Check with OPM for future grant opportunities.
Funding for capital projects such as rehabilitation, pilot preservation projects that leverage private funds, and infrastructure upgrades for communities ineligible for Urban Action bonds (for economically distressed municipalities). After award, administered by relevant state agency (e.g. DECD, OPM or DEEP).
Reimbursement to municipalities for a range of local capital improvement projects (eg. roads/sidewalks, sewer lines, dams, greenways, etc) by OPM, including activities associated with infrastructure for mill redevelopment.
Funding and technical support for development projects benefiting low- and moderate-income populations in cities of less than 50,000.
The Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) provides economic development services for businesses, municipalities and public agencies. A tool for the identification of historic industrial buildings actively listed for purchase or lease is SiteFinder, an online database of commercial properties.
Regional economic development authorities, such as the Capitol Region Development Authority, may also have programs to assist with mill redevelopment.
The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development promotes business growth through links to a variety of financing and technical assistance resources (some also linked in sections above).
Connecticut Trust staff can assist with further information on historic industrial properties and redevelopment opportunities.