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Preservation Incentives

Preservation Incentives

Historic preservation is more than insuring changes to historic resources are appropriate. Successful historic preservation programs also make available positive incentives, including financial and technical tools that help give new life to historic properties.

Economic incentives are available to historic preservation projects at the local, state and federal levels. The City of Ontario offers the Mills Act Contract Program which provides property tax abatement to qualified properties. The Federal government offers rehabilitation tax credits to qualified projects and properties. Residential homeowners also find that property values increase when historic preservation standards are used in rehabilitating historic homes. For case studies illustrating how the credits have been combined, visit:
Technical incentives are those that allow flexibility in restoring a historic building. These structures are often made of older materials that can be rehabilitated to increase their useful lifespan. Historic structures also require innovative solutions to improve energy efficiency. The California Historical Building Code is a performance-based code that recognizes older buildings often have additional needs in meeting fire and life safety requirements. Additional technical publications are offered through a series of National Park Service (NPS) Preservation Briefs. Preservation Briefs provide guidance on preserving, rehabilitating, restoring, and obtaining energy efficiency in historic buildings. These National Park Service Publications help historic building owners recognize and resolve common problems prior to work. The briefs are especially useful to Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program applicants because they recommend methods and approaches for rehabilitating historic buildings that are consistent with their historic character.

Community wide recognition is an important element to the Ontario’s historic preservation program. Since 2000, the City Council has acknowledged successful preservation projects within the community with an annual Model Colony Awards program. The “Model Colony” Awards are presented each year in the spring corresponding with National Historic Preservation Month. The program provides awards to property owners in order to recognize their efforts in excelling in the four areas of: 1) restoration, 2) rehabilitation, 3) landscape, and 4) ongoing maintenance of their historic properties. In addition, the George Chaffey Memorial Award recognizes distinguishing leadership in the preservation of Ontario’s historic resources. Past Model Colony Award recipients include Ontario’s historic schools, historic churches, historic single-family residences, historic multi-family properties, and joint public/private preservation projects. After the award presentation of each recipient, the City Council hosts a cake reception for the winners and the public.

Designated historic resources are eligible to participate in Ontario’s Plaque Program.
The plaques are made of bronze with raised letters and are eight inches (8”) tall by ten inches (10”) wide. The plaques typically have the name of the building or structure, the date of designation, the landmark number or district name, and a brief description of the property and its significance. Any owner of a historic property may purchase a plaque for their designated property and the City will pay the cost of installing the plaque. To date, over fifty plaques have been installed on homes, commercial buildings, and sites. 

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