Nine blocks of downtown Killeen were nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. Now, a federal review process will decide whether the area becomes a permanent historic site.
City officials hope the downtown designation will spur community revitalization by offering tax incentives and federal grants and bringing new businesses to the city.
In a presentation to the council Tuesday, architectural historian Terri Myers — hired by the city to prepare the application — was cautiously optimistic that the city would be accepted into the program.
“The city’s downtown buildings mostly have historic building fabric,” Myers said. “I think Killeen has a great opportunity to renovate some of these buildings and create new event opportunities and other activities in its downtown.”
Buildings have to meet three criteria for eligibility in the State Historic Preservation Office program:
- They must be of historic age — built in 1962 or earlier.
- They must not have been altered greatly.
- They must have historic significance.
“One of the problems is a lot of the buildings have alterations,” Myers said. In most cases, if a building was altered by more than two features it would not be considered historic.
Also, 50 percent of the buildings in the district must be historic. Myers said 59 percent of the buildings in Killeen’s proposed historic district fall within the guidelines.
The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which falls under the responsibility of the National Park Service, was created to protect America’s historic and archaeological resources; however, many cities participate because of the incentives.
Almost every county in the U.S. has at least one place listed in the National Register, according to the National Park Service’s website.
With the designation, Killeen is more likely to receive grants, tax incentives and a Certified Local Government Program to help fund projects, such as the downtown revitalization project that began this year.
“When we see the opportunity to apply for a grant, we take it,” said Hilary Shine, the city’s spokesperson.