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These are the 5 Most Endangered Historic Places in Hawai‘i

Each year, we look for our state’s most endangered historic places through a partnership with the Historic Hawaii Foundation and the State Historic Preservation Division. The list is a call to action, but it’s also a way to appreciate the hidden treasures of our built environment. This year we see Kapahulu Avenue with new eyes, imagine the way plantation workers gathered in the 1900s and consider—if only for a moment—if an ugly building is worth saving.


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Money on the House

Both the state of Hawaii and the federal government give significant tax benefits for people who preserve their historic homes and businesses. Surprisingly, Hawaii property owners don’t take full advantage of either of these programs, says Angie Westfall, of the State Historic Preservation Division. Here’s her quick guide to the money you could be making.



Pay only $300 a year—forever—in property tax if your house is on the state or national historic register by applying for the Hawaii Historic Property Tax Exemption. “It fosters preservation by adding a financial incentive to preserve—rather than demolish—older buildings that are significant to a sense of place,” says Westfall. If your property isn’t yet on the register, now might be the time to apply. Information is available at the State Historic Preservation Division website: hawaii.gov/dlnr/hpd/hpregistr.htm.


Find out how to apply for the exemption, if your home is already on the register, at the Hawaii Historic Foundation website: historichawaii.org/HPRC/tax/HITaxExemptions.html.



The federal tax credit is for commercial properties, but would include a residence used as a business, such as a bed and breakfast. You have to be on the national register to apply, and the tax credit is 20 percent for costs associated with rehabbing an old property. It’s a joint program between the Hawai‘i State Historic Preservation Division, the National Park Service and the IRS, so there are a few stages to the process, and rules with which to comply. However, having taxes go down permanently may make it worth the effort. For information on the program and the application process, visit nps.gov/hps/tps/tax/incentives.


There's also a local commercial historic property tax exemption that covers 50 percent of the real property tax. It requires a maintenance plan for applicants and only applies to registered historic properties in the City and County of Honolulu. It does not cover resorts or agricultural properties. historichawaii.org/HPRC/Commercial_Prop_tax.html.


SEE ALSO: Updates: A Look Back at Past Endangered Places


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Honolulu Magazine January 2020
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