Opelika Could Get Third Historic District

Opelika could soon have another official historic district. The Geneva Street area is nationally recognized, but was never given local designation. Geneva Street was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, but it's not locally recognized by the city.

The Blossom Shop sits at the corner of Stowe Avenue and Geneva Street. It's right outside Opelika's proposed third historic district, but owner Angela Hood wants to be a part of it.

"I'd say I'd love to be in, and you'd be proud to have me," Hood said.

The Geneva Street district is nationally recognized, but was somehow left without a local designation. A public hearing Thursday afternoon let residents could change it, or leave it be.

"Most of the folks I've talked to have been in favor of this. I've talked to a handful that haven't been. This is really an opportunity for them to give their input to the government, to the city," said Andy Bell, Opelika community development administrator.

Giving Geneva Street historic district status allows homeowners to make changes to their houses, but in a way consistent with neighborhood character. They already get incentives for being on the national list.

"You can get a tax credit for doing rehabilitation work. People aren't aware of this, but you also get the homestead rate for your tax as a business," said Bell.

That's one reason Hood is giving her input to the Historic Preservation Commission.

"I plan on asking them to put us in so that we can get the benefits. I love Opelika. I'm from here. I'm very proud of this town," she said.

The Historic Preservation Commission will meet next week and use the public comments in a final proposal. They will then submit that proposal to the Opelika City Council. Council members will then decide whether or not to designate it an historic district.