Downtown Riverhead added to state’s Register of Historic Places

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | A portion of downtown Riverhead has been added to the state's register of historic places.

A section of downtown Riverhead’s historic district has been approved to New York State’s Register of Historic Places, according to the town’s Landmarks Preservation Committee, opening up tax credits for local business owners on restoration work for buildings within the area.

The newly registered district, which includes portions of Griffing Avenue, East & West Main Street, Roanoke Avenue, Maple Avenue, and Peconic Avenue, was approved at the state’s Board of Historic Preservation meeting on Wednesday. The area was also recommended by the state for designation on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Strategically located on the Peconic River and at the split of Long Island’s North and South Forks, the concentration of buildings represents Riverhead’s importance as the center of business, culture, entertainment and government on the East End of Long Island,” the state board said in a statement following the decision.

Town Landmarks Preservation Committee chairman Richard Wines said he is confident the downtown district will be added by the federal government as well.

“Once it’s approved at the state level the federal approval is basically automatic,” Mr. Wines said  “It’s just a matter of time now until we’re formally on the national registry of historic places.” He said downtown should be added to the National Register by the summer.

Inclusion on the registries gives business owners access to up to 40 percent tax credits, 20 percent from the state and 20 percent from the federal government, for restoration work done on the inside or outside of buildings. Those credits are available now, Mr. Wines said, even though the final approval at the federal level isn’t finished.

Inclusion on the registries also adds prestige to the area, and will make it easier for the town and business owners to apply for grants. The designation doesn’t add any restrictions or additional paperwork to local business owners, though the area is already included under the town designated Historic District, which does have restrictions of their own.

“Basically this national register should be one more tool for the Town Board and Supervisor [Sean] Walter in their efforts to revitalize the area,” Mr. Wines said.

Supervisor Walter said being on the registry would be a benefit for local businesses.

“It’s a great thing and I thank the Landmarks Preservation Committee and Richard Wines for their hard work,” Mr. Walter said. “This is a testament to their knowledge and diligence and perseverance.”

The committee is also working on two other proposals for historical designation for downtown. The first area would stretch along Second Street, and the second area would include residences north of Griffing Avenue. Mr. Wines expects those districts to be added to the registries within the next two years, and said tax credits are now available for those buildings as well.

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