An architectural survey of some Conway neighborhoods revealed that two National Register of Historic Places could be created — a 22-home College Avenue district and a two-home Conway Boulevard district.
"We’ll need 51 percent of the homeowners within the proposed boundaries to agree with the National Register Historic District creation," Conway Planning and Development Director Bryan Patrick said. "However, it is my understanding that a non-response from the homeowner counts as a positive and not a negative."
Vivian Hogue, who lives in the proposed 22-home College Avenue district, said she plans to vote in favor of the registry.
"I’ve been trying to get it done for years," she said. "We just need to take care of our old homes instead of tearing them down needlessly."
The Conway Historic District Commission has scheduled a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Conway Police Department’s second floor meeting room to explain the nomination process and answer homeowners’ questions.
The Log Cabin Democrat set out to get more information about the process after some residents expressed concerns, mostly about stricter guidelines if the neighborhoods are added to the registry. The following is a Q&A with Conway Planning and Development Director Bryan Patrick.
Q. What are some of the pros and cons of being on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)?
A: "Pros: Studies have shown that homes within a historic district typically gain in value more than older homes outside of a historic district. Contributing homes within the district would be eligible for state and possibly federal tax credits. A contributing home is one that is seen as having historic integrity — original windows, siding, historic details intact, etc. Credit can also be applied for homes that can be made ‘contributing.’ Cons: Not really any that I can think of."
Q. Are there stricter guidelines for neighborhoods that are on the register?
A. "No. The NRHP listing is honorary. No additional regulation would be required at this time. The area is already regulated by the Old Conway Design Overlay District. However, the current regulation would remain unchanged."
Q. If 51 percent of homeowners vote in favor, what are the next steps and how long does the process take?
A. "If we gather the necessary support, the Conway Historic District Commission will use existing grant funds and petition additional grant funds from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program to be used to hire a consultant to complete the National Register forms and write the nomination narrative. A request for proposal has been made to qualified consultants to make proposals and bids. The RFP deadline is this Friday. So far, I have not received any proposals. Once the forms and narrative are complete, they are sent to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program for review. The AHPP will then recommend the nomination to the State Historic Review Board. The Board will review and approve making a recommendation to the National Park Service. The NPS administers and oversees the National Register of Historic Places."
Note: Patrick said he hopes the process could be finalized within a year but the timeline is tentative. He also provided a link that has information about the impact the registry could have on property values and more, www.achp.gov/economic-designation.html.