May is National Historic Preservation Month, and Lakewood has its own Historic Preservation Commission, which is a bit different than the more widely known National Register and Historic Societies. LHPC's Poppie Gullett recently spoke with the Jeffco Transcript about what the LHPC is and why it's so important to the community.
According to Gullett, the National Register of historic places is the most well-known in the community and the country. Properties on the register get a black plaque.
“All of those sites have basically submitted an application," Gullett said. "They come up with a little bit of their history, they send it to the state office, and then they send it off to the National Park Service. And if you're approved, you get a plaque.” The plaque comes with benefits, which Gullet said vary from one state to another.
The Historic Society is another agency that registers properties on a state level.
Then, there is the local agency, the Lakewood Historic Preservation Commission.
These agencies operate in Lakewood to help property owners recognize, restore and protect their landmark properties. This means that they also help with gathering funds to help residents preserve their property.
"Some states are like Colorado," Gullett said. "We have this great State Historical Fund that offers grants to properties that are on the national registry, you have to apply and all that. But, it is an option. And then in every state, you have the opportunity to go after tax credits, and those are at the federal level. Those tax credits help you basically offset costs of taking care of your historic property.”
Gullet explained the LHPC is a part of the “certified local government” program and that designation comes with powers that the other agencies do not have.
“There is actually a process to go through for alterations for local landmarks that does not exist for the National Register," she said. "And then as far as the historical society goes, that's just a great way to recognize the history. It doesn't have any teeth and doesn't convey any of the designation benefits. So, you can't go after grants, you can't go after tax credits.”
Gullett said that getting a plaque is prestigious, but property owners need more. This means help preserving, restoring and protecting their properties. The LHPC has the power to do this.
There are only four properties on the LHPC register so far. One of them is Eiber Village at Garrison Station, owned by Jim Hartman, co-owner of Hartman Ely Investments.
On the Hartman Ely website, Eiber Village is described as “an adaptive use conversion of three vacant, abandoned buildings to 50 affordable rental senior apartments.”
The housing development has significance to the Lakewood community.
“The original 1960s buildings operated most recently as the Hospice of Saint John and this important property was designated by the City of Lakewood as a local historic site,” according to the website.
Colorado Community Media covered the project when it started in 2019.
Now, Eiber Village is an affordable housing for seniors in the Lakewood community.
According to Hartman, the LHPC was a great help in turning The Hospice of St John into Eiber Village.
"The Lakewood folks were really helpful giving us a bunch of information on the Hospice of Saint John property that we turned into the (Eiber Village)," he said. "And they helped us get the property listed on that local register, the (LHPC's) Historic Register, which is really important. Because when you get a property listed either on a local or a state or a federal historic register, then the property can qualify for tax credits. And that's a big piece of the funding oftentimes to make projects happen."
Hartman goes on to describe how the LHPC helped with suggestions during the renovations, offering historic information that helped inform some design decisions. He urges property owners to register their properties because the funding is needed to help preserve many Lakewood properties. According to Hartman, the LHPC and other organizations "can be extremely helpful, then open the doors to lots of good financing."
The LHPC has other duties as well, including surveying the city for properties of historic note, even if that notoriety is hyperlocal.
Gullet recently made her 2022 Lakewood Historic Preservation Report to the Lakewood City Council. During her presentation, Gullett presented a few findings that she and her team made while surveying Lakewood.
The LHPC’s work is all about preserving and protecting the properties which includes surveying, interagency collaboration, and also in aiding property owners as they seek funding.
Gullett said that the commission's duties could take a while to list. What she would like the community to know is that properties with any historic significance should be registered with LHPC.
“We want to get people excited,” Gullett said.
That means community engagement events like scavenger hunts and talks like the Morse Park Survey presentation made on May 23 at the visitors center of Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park.
The results of the recent surveys will be available to the public in time. Stay updated, register a property and find more information on the LHPC webpage.