Real Estate: A House to Revive 

by Deveron Timberlake; photos by Stephen Salpukas

What their restoration involves: Working with contractor Bill Pangburn, the Reeds are progressing from demolition to renovation and decoration, turning their brick house, formerly two apartment units, into a functional home. They've removed the building's dividing wall and a false ceiling, rerouted ductwork for the HVAC system and installed a tankless water heater. They're adding a powder room, master bath and new kitchen, restoring porches and landscaping.

Because they are seeking state rehabilitation tax credits, they're working with historic tax specialist Karri Richardson to comply with detailed construction guidelines that maintain the house's historic character. They expect to move into the completed structure by late August.

What they're getting: Original decorative wood mantels and millwork, heart pine floors, 12-foot ceilings, new kitchen and baths, and built-in shelving in the library. Three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, an upstairs balcony, two porches, a fenced back yard and off-street parking. The house is appraised at $285,000 as a duplex; the $100,000 construction budget is net of tax credits, Scott Reed estimates. "We may not hit a home run," he says of any eventual return on investment, but the house will be properly conserved and a home created for the newlyweds.

Why they're motivated to live in Church Hill: "We're not ready to live permanently in the country," Anna Reed says. As a Capital One executive, she's giving up an easy commute for a longer one from the East End, but prefers urban life and the opportunity to return an old house to its former luster. "We love the city," she says, "and the festivals, the Farmers' Market, the restaurants like The Hill Café, and we want to bring the house back to what it used to be, just as many of our neighbors are doing."

Why historic preservation is a dominant theme for the couple: Scott Reed's grandmother Mary Ross Scott Reed, her sister Elisabeth Bocock and cousin Mary Wingfield Scott established the Historic Richmond Foundation and were active preservationists. Those interests continue. Many of Scott Reed's cousins are reviving old properties and promoting an active civic and environmental life.

"I've been interested in land use and conservation and trying to channel that growth appropriately," Reed says. As assistant secretary to Tayloe Murphy, former state secretary of natural resources, Reed was involved in public policy that now comes full circle as he uses the program set in place to conserve Virginia's architectural history.

How they'll make the house their own: Anna Reed is working with Charlottesville interior designer Kathy Davies to create a light-filled space with natural colors, antiques and casual accents. "We are fortunate to have some pieces from Scott's family, so we have an interesting mix," she says. "His mother, Martha Davenport Reed, took the time to understand Virginia artists, so we want to make a home for those pieces," including a Nancy Witt self-portrait and other paintings inherited from Reed's late parents' collection.

Scott Reed has designed a dining room table from an old church pew, and the couple is re-covering upholstered pieces from the Reeds' ancestral home at Sabot Hill. The new house, he says, should blend function and character: "I'm trying to balance the quirkiness of an old, squeaky historic house with something that actually makes sense in our lifestyle today." HS

Historic Tax Credits

Help in navigating a money-saving process.

Historic tax credits can make an otherwise daunting financial commitment a sensible investment. They represent a credit to the bottom line of a homeowner's income tax.

Someone who invests $100,000 in an approved project can get up to $45,000 back in state and federal tax credits, for example. The state awards 25 percent, and the federal government awards 20 percent of the qualified rehabilitation expenses for the project. Projects must meet the criteria of the secretary of the interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.

"By getting tax credits, you are following the guidelines set forth to rehabilitate your building the correct way, in a way that will stand the test of time," says Karri Richardson, a consultant for the Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods and a specialist in historic tax credit programs. "When you do the rehabilitation the right way, it saves you a lot of money in the long run. You can get a credit for up to 10 years on state and 20 years on federal tax returns."

Qualifying houses must stand within a designated historic district and be contributing members of that district (a gas station, for example, wouldn't be eligible). Such neighborhoods are Church Hill, Oregon Hill, the Fan District, Union Hill, Oakwood-Chimborazo, Battery Park, Carver, Ginter Park and Ginter Park Terrace, Highland Park, Jackson Ward, Manchester and Forest Hill Park.

Richardson can review a homeowner's plans, advise the owner and fill out the applications for tax credits for a combined fee of $2,250 for state and federal tax credits and less for single-credit projects.

The three-part application includes before and after photographs of the project, about 70 images each, and a detailed listing of roofing, the drainage system, wall finishes, hardware, heating and cooling systems, and other components in about two dozen categories. All of this information is submitted along with architectural plans and is reviewed by Virginia's Department of Historic Resources and, if federal credits are sought, by the National Park Service.

When the project is OK'd and completed, photographs are required to show that the rehabilitation was done correctly so that tax credits can be awarded.

Federal credits are approved only when the property is income-producing, such as rentals or office space. State credits can apply to both single-family and income-producing buildings.

"People initially have a misconception about this whole process," Richardson says. "They think the government is trying to tell them exactly how to do their restoration, but they are very willing to work with you and come up with a compromise solution or suggestions. They're trying to maintain the look of the neighborhood and they do it very successfully."

A.C.O.R.N. provides information about the tax credit process and lists historic properties that are available for restoration and sale in old Richmond neighborhoods.

For more information, call 422-2148 or visit www.richmondneighborhoods.org. HS



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