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Historic Development Grant Program

In April 2021 the Tennessee General Assembly developed the Historic Development Grant Program (HDGP) and allocated $4.8 million to renovate and preserve the State’s historic buildings. The legislators recognized that historic buildings and their preservation expand the state’s economy, create new employment opportunities, revitalize and renew communities, create an environment for investment, and promote tourism and rural economic development.

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development will begin accepting applications for the HDGP on May 15, 2021. Awards will be made on a first-come, first-served basis triggered by the filing of a complete application. However, $1 million of the funding will be set aside until December 31, 2021 to allow projects in tier 3 and tier 4 communities to complete applications (Additional Tier information located here).

Eligible Properties:

  • Certified historic structures that are:
    • listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places or are part of a National Register of Historic Places historic district and certified by the secretary of the United States Department of the Interior as being of historic significance to the district (Additional information on the National Register can be obtained from the Tennessee Historical Commission); and
    • are in a tier three (3) or four (4) county as determined by TNECD; federally qualified opportunity zone (see the TNECD Opportunity Zones directory for a map of opportunity zones in Tennessee); state and nationally accredited Tennessee Main Street community or Tennessee Downtown community (Information can be found here); or Certified Local Governments (Information can be found here) approved by the National Parks Service in counties with a population of no more than 200,000 persons
  • The applicant must be the person or entity who holds legal fee or leasehold title to a certified historic structure or an identifiable portion of the certified historic structure.

Thirty (30) percent of qualifying rehabilitation expenses up to $300,000 are eligible for grant funding.

Any expenditure for a structural component of a building is eligible for grant funds. Treasury Regulation 1.48-1(e)(2) defines structural components to include walls, partitions, floors, ceilings, permanent coverings such as paneling or tiling, windows and doors, components of central air conditioning or heating systems, plumbing and plumbing fixtures, electrical wiring and lighting fixtures, chimneys, stairs, escalators, elevators, sprinkling systems, fire escapes, and other components related to the operation or maintenance of the building.

In addition to the above named "hard costs," there are "soft costs" which also qualify. These include construction period interest and taxes, architect fees, engineering fees, construction management costs, reasonable developer fees, and any other fees paid that would normally be charged to a capital account. More information on soft costs can be found on the Technical Preservation Services website.

For questions about the program, please reach out to: Logan McCoy (Email), Brooxie Carlton (Email), or Nancy Williams (Email)

Projects must start after January 1, 2021 or within eighteen (18) months of grant approval and be complete within thirty-six (36) months of grant approval. Only expenses incurred during the contract period will be eligible for reimbursement.

Webinars will be held to discuss the funding opportunity the week of May 17. Register for a webinar. TuesdayWednesday, or Thursday (May 18-20). Webinars will take place between 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM CST. Applicants will be notified of award around July 1 and contracts are expected to begin in July 2021.

The application will be available May 17 and can be accepted beginning June 1st. Applications will be reviewed within five business days for completeness, and applicants will be notified of additional documentation needed. Applications will be considered received by TNECD when the complete application is submitted including any additional documentation required.

For questions about the program, please reach out to: Logan McCoy (Email), Brooxie Carlton (Email), or Nancy Williams (Email)

General Information

  • Where can we find more information?
  • Is this grant different from the downtown revitalization grant?
    • Yes, this is a new program and not associated with any previous TNECD or TN Historical Commission programs.
  • If you have questions about how to become a CLG, please reach out at  from the Certified Local Government program at the Tennessee Historical Commission.
  • Are communities in the current TN Downtown program round (not yet complete) eligible?
    • Yes
  • Will there be a way to monitor if/when the year's funding has been exhausted? And once it is, should applicants still submit, hoping for a "waiting list" scenario for future years?
    • We will update the website when the funding is obligated. We will accept applications for a waiting list at that time. If funding is available for applicants on the waiting list, then TNECD will notify the applicant and give them two weeks to make changes to their application or to decline being considered for the funding.
  • What size projects are preferred?
    • There is no preference for the size of the project. The minimum grant amount is $5,000 ($15,000 project).
  • If your project is over $1M / over the max grant amount, we recommend that you only put construction costs (no soft costs) in the contract. Those are easier to request reimbursement for. We will work with you on this when we are contracting the project, but it is good to keep in mind.
  • How many buildings can be submitted per application?
    • It is recommended that you submit one building per application. If you submit more than one building in a single application, the $300,000 maximum grant amount will apply to the entire project.
  • Is there a limit to projects in one district?
    • There is no limit to the number of projects in a district.
  • Can multiple building owners in the same district apply for this funding? 
    • Multiple business/building owners in one district can apply. We can only accept one application per building/project.
  • If a building is historically registered AND in a district which do they choose?
    • No difference in a building that is individually listed in the NR or listed as a contributing resource in a NR district.
  • Is the program strictly first-come, first-served, or is there preference to projects that meet more than one of the second part of the criteria?
    • Program is first-come, first-served except for $1M being set aside for Tier 3 and Tier 4 communities until the end of the year. If we do not have $1M in Tier 3 or Tier 4 apps by then, we'll open it back up to other applicants or move down the waiting list. However, we expect to award at least $1M in those counties in the first round of awards.
  • Is there a sliding scale payback if building sold within five years of grant?
    • TNECD is still working to determine the final answer to this question. We will notify applicants of our determination before we begin contracting. The intent of this program is to preserve historic buildings and that should be the focus of an application.


Application Submission

  • What does “first-come, first-served” mean?
    • Your app will be time-stamped when it is received and complete. That is what we'll use to determine which applications come in first. Applications will be considered complete when the TNECD team has reviewed them and determined that all required information is included in the application document.
      The first completion reviews will be completed the first week of June for all applications received at that point. Applicants will be notified of missing documentation and allowed to submit additional information. The application will be considered complete when the requested documents are received and reviewed.
  •  Is there more direction on the map, photos, etc. that you are wanting? Under the Maps upload, do you prefer a Google map or a site plan?
    • Photos should clearly show the condition and any character-defining features of both the interior and exterior of the building. Typically, 25-45 photos should cover it. They should be labeled. Both map types are acceptable. A Google or parcel location map and a map showing the location of the building within the historic district are needed. A site plan and floor plans are needed with the locations where the photos were taken indicated.
  • Can the application be amended after it is submitted or before it is reviewed if it has been submitted already?
    • If your application has already been submitted and you know you need to make changes, please do so before June 1 when the submissions will be reviewed for completeness. You can resubmit your application and we’ll use the latest submission.
  • We will base the date submitted on when we get the full application. Please ensure you submit the final application without the need to make additional edits. We can ask you for additional information, but we need the final submission from you when you hit submit.
    • On the application when you ask about historic additions or alterations, do we include those to be constructed in near future? Do dates of alterations mean historic additions or alterations to be constructed in near future?
  • Dates of alternations or additions mean those that have already happened.


Eligible Buildings

  • Are government-owned buildings eligible assuming they meet other requirements?
    • This program is for commercial buildings, not government buildings.
    • If a local government is renting out the building for commercial uses, then it could be eligible.
  • Are warehouses available for grant projects?
    • All grant projects must be for commercial use. If a warehouse is being converted to a commercial use, that would be eligible.
  • May multiple buildings within the historic district be a part of the grant?
    • Yes - If all the buildings are “contributing” as it relates to the National Register then you can submit one application for multiple buildings if they have the same owner and can be considered part of the same project. If they have different owners or would be considered different projects, they should be separate applications. The $300,000 cap would apply to each application.
  • If the building is under contract and scheduled to close in August, will I need a letter from the current building owner?
    • Yes. In that case, we wouldn't give final approval for the project until the building has closed.
  • Would a NRHP Courthouse be eligible for needed repairs?
    • No. If the building is strictly a government building, it is not eligible.
  • Is a building that is owned by a local government for redevelopment into commercial purposes eligible?
    • If a community is converting a building to a commercial use, then it would be eligible.
  • Could a building be within a State Park or owned by TDEC?
    • If the building will have a commercial use, it could be eligible. Please contact someone from the TNECD team to further discuss.
  • Would a Carnegie Library now being used for a Chamber of Commerce eligible?
    • If the building is income generating, it is eligible. For example, if the building is rented from the local government, then it would be eligible because it is producing income for the local government. If the building is being used rent-free and the Chamber of Commerce does not have any income-generating activities, then it would not be eligible.
  • Would a building owned by a school system qualify for the grant if it meets all other criteria?
    • Not unless the school provides a commercial use. Send us additional information to make sure.
  • Are there any restrictions on use for active religious facilities?
    • If the building has a commercial or job-creating use, then it could possibly qualify for the program. Please contact someone from the TNECD team to further discuss.
  • A National Register structure had to be moved to our Historic District to prevent developer demolition. National Registry certification was lost with the move but will be re-applied for. Is it eligible?
    • In this situation the building would not be eligible because it lost its National Register designation when it was moved.
  • If a developer owns two connected buildings and wants to use this grant should it be applied as one project or two? The potential occupier would be one restaurant within 80% with a small section of the building be a second business
    • If the buildings are historically connected it could possibly be one project.  Contact us with a map, photos, and a floor plan for more clarification.
  • Would a church on National Register qualify for funding?
    • If it is only used for religious purposes, it would not be eligible.
    • If an individual owns the church building and leases it to a church, is it eligible.
    • If a congregation sells a church building to an individual/developer and they rehab the building for a compatible use (restaurant, event center, etc.), that would be eligible.
  • May a non-profit own the building?
    • Yes
  • Older NR Historic district nominations do not show contributing/non-contributing status. Is there a way to know if a property will be eligible?



  • If a project is getting started between now and the July 1 award date; would it still be eligible for the work completed between submittal date & award of the grant?
    • No. The program can only reimburse expenses made during the grant contract period.
  • When can you start a project once you have been approved or awarded the project?
    • The grant can go to projects that started as of Jan. 1, 2021. We can only reimburse for expenses during the contract period. Contracts should start in July and go for up to 3 years.
  • If I have a non-contributing building but can easily remove what makes it non-contributing, how long would it take to be considered contributing and therefore eligible for funding?
    • The process would be that the non-contributing aspect would be addressed, then the Part 1 documentation would be submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office. That process would take approximately60 days. It is unlikely that the timeframe would allow for you to apply for funding this year before the funds are all obligated.



  • Can this be used in conjunction with LIHTC for affordable housing?
    • Yes.
  • Is funding available for administration?
    • Admin is eligible up to 5% if there are no developer fees
  • Could this be used in conjunction with any other grant funding?
    • Yes. It is intended (but not required) to be paired with the federal Historic Tax Credit. It could also be used with other funding including USDA REAP, LIHTC, New Market Tax Credits, etc.
  • How do we apply the 5% admin fee?  Is it 5% of the total project cost or 5% of the eligible grant amount?
    • 5% of the grant amount. There is a line in the budget for that. We'll work with you on that when we are developing the contract.
  • Can you be reimbursed for expenses that were incurred prior to the contract period?
    • No, you are only eligible to be reimbursed for expenses incurred during the contract period.
  • Can we charge indirect costs?
    • Indirect costs are not eligible.


Eligible Activities and Implementation

  • How many projects within the same building are eligible? For example, can we work on HVAC, restrooms, windows, etc.?
    • The program is intended to assist the complete rehabilitation of the building. So, HVAC, restrooms, windows, flooring would all be considered one overall project
  • Are there ineligible hard costs?
    • Yes, this program will follow the same eligible expenses as the NPS historic tax credit program. Non-construction items like cabinetry, appliances, and fencing would not apply. 
  •  Will these projects have to meet Davis Bacon Wages?
    • No, this a state-funded program, not a federal program.
  •  If a certificate of occupancy is required, then does that mean that we cannot apply for a speculative redevelopment project?  In other words, must there be an occupant that will use the facility after redeveloped?
    • It is required that there be a commercial use for the property before the grantee can be reimbursed.
  • Will you make provisions for sole source procurement for very specialized services such as special contractors that do repointing of bricks, etc.?
    • There is a process for sole source procurement approval. TNECD will have a webinar with the grantees after they are selected to review the requirements for the grant and other grant management expectations and responsibilities.
  • How will eligible activities be approved for payment?
    • This is a reimbursement grant. The funds will not be reimbursed until there is a Certificate of Occupancy. The National Park Service Form 3 will be required to be submitted at the end of the project. It will be reviewed by the TN Historic Commission to ensure compliance with Section 106 and that the activities completed were what was proposed. A Request for Payment with invoices and proof of payment of those invoices will be submitted to TNECD.