West End update – Nate Heffron – city of Negaunee

Negaunee makes national historic register

Nate Heffron, city manager, city of Negaunee

The city of Negaunee recently received its National Register of Historic Places designation for its downtown district. I want to say we are very proud of a moment that has been a long time coming.

When I first started as city manager in 2018, the city council adopted a resolution to work with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to obtain this historical status.

This goal fulfills one of the core strategies of Moving Forward, the city’s economic development strategic plan, The overall strategy aims to help preserve the historic buildings in Downtown Negaunee. Everyone knows this has not been an easy task, but this achievement coupled with other programs, ordinances, and the hard work of building owners is starting to pay off.

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of buildings, structures, objects, sites, and districts worthy of preservation for their significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, and culture. 

According to Jessica Flores of Preservation Forward, the consultant hired to assist the city in obtaining this status, is a testament to the program as well as a nod to what those of us in Negaunee already know.

“Negaunee represents why this program was created. This prestigious list is also one of the most valuable tools individuals and communities have to encourage the preservation of important historic places in Negaunee. These historic properties tell the story of Negaunee, instill a sense of pride within the community, and provide awareness of the importance of Negaunee’s rich iron ore heritage”.

Now we have another tool in our economic devolvement tool belt of for Downtown Negaunee. It makes good on our promise to preserve our history while focusing on our future.

Although the designation is honorific and not regulatory, it can bring some benefits to larger projects to the downtown.

Flores says, “A listing in the National Register provides opportunities for promotion, makes available certain incentives like grants and tax credits that fosters investment in Downtown Negaunee and allows for the consideration of historic resources when federal funding or permits are involved”.

On the federal side, the Department of Interior administers the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program, which encourages private sector investment in the rehabilitation and re-use of historic buildings. Through this private investment, investors can apply for and receive federal tax credits.

The state of Michigan has a similar program that mirrors this federal program and can be used in combination with each other.

Flores says that there are more than 96,000 properties across the country, including nearly 2,000 in Michigan, have been listed in the National Register since it was initiated in 1966.

It’s been said you have to look back to move forward, that’s never been truer for Negaunee than it is now. At the heart of the designation is the preservation and promotion of these architectural resource. The achievement also serves as a savvy planning and development tool the revitalization of downtown Negaunee.  

In the near future and with the assistance of our partners, the city will be working to identify buildings where these tax credits might be used in our downtown.

This accomplishment is just one more reason you should look west when thinking where to expand or starting a business. Franky, space is running out, don’t get left behind, come move Forward with Negaunee!

Editor’s note: Nate Heffron is city manager of the city of Negaunee.


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