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City looks to expand commercial historic district

The Andalusia City Council on Tuesday took an important step toward the continued renovation of historic structures in the downtown area when it agreed to work with McNair Historic Preservation, Inc., to expand the city’s commercial historic district.

The company, led by Stephen McNair, Ph.D., specializes in historic tax credits, historic preservation, and architectural history. City Administrator John Thompson explained that renovation projects within a commercial historic district qualify for significant tax credits at the federal and state level, which makes the projects more attractive to owners.

Structures determined by the Alabama Historical Commission as eligible for listing in the National Register, or those individually listed in the National Register also qualify for tax credits.

Thompson said there are a number of projects in the works that will be more attractive for developers if the structures qualify for the tax credits.

As a result of the council’s vote, McNair Historic Preservation will survey the city’s commercial district to determine which buildings could potentially be added to the registry, and work for approval of the Alabama Historical Commission and the National Park Service to have Andalusia’s historical commercial district redefined.

At present, there are 10 Covington County sites included in the National Register of Historic Places, according to its website. They include:

• Andalusia Commercial Historic District, roughly bounded by Coffee Street, Seaboard Railroad tracks, and South Three Notch Street, listed in 1989.

• Avant House, 909 Sanford Road, Andalusia, listed in 1996.

• Bank of Andalusia, 28 Court Square, Andalusia, listed in 1989.

• Central of Georgia Depot, 125 Central Street, Andalusia, listed in 1984.

• Covington County Courthouse and Jail, 101 N. Court Square, Andalusia, listed in 1989.

• First National Bank Building, 101 S. Cotton Street, Andalusia, listed 1982.

• Florala Historic District, described as 23216-24310 Fifth Avenue, N Fifth Street; 519-1189 S Fifth Street; 1113-1115 Fourth Street; and 22510-22664 Wall Street, listed in2010.

• J.W. Shreve Addition Historic District, 115-300 6th Avenue; 302-425 College Street; and 403-505 E. Three Notch Street, Andalusia, listed in 2009.

• Opp Commercial Historic District, roughly bounded by Covington Ave., Hart, Main, Whaley and College Streets, listed in 2001.

• William T. Shepard House, Poley Road, Opp, listed in 1973.

McNair has completed work on similar districts in Foley, Dothan, Atmore, Faunsdale, Fairhope, and Mobile.