Winnetka Village Council rejected granting a landmark status for a 117-year Foursquare home across from the Village Green despite a Landmark Preservation Committee recommendation to approve it.
Granting a local landmark designation allows the homeowners to apply for 12 years of reduced property taxes if the homeowner uses 25 percent of the property’s market value rehabilitating the building. The designation allows homeowners to apply for a property tax assessment freeze for eight years, followed by a four-year period during which the property’s assessed value steps up to an amount based upon its current market value.
Homeowners Jen and Rick McQuet told trustees that they would not apply to reduce property taxes and just wanted a way to share their home’s history.
But trustees voiced concern about future homeowners intentions to seek reduced property tax and said the designation could come at a price for other residents whose taxes must make up for the reduction.
“Once a landmark, always a landmark,” Trustee Jack Buck said. “It’s very common for people to spend 25 percent [of the property value] on their homes in Winnetka … and then there is a tax freeze.”
Holland: Tax Freeze Argument ‘Ridiculous and Prejudicial’
“We have 28 landmarks over 20 years. Actually assessments have gone down in the village. So those homes that have opted for the assessment freeze are paying more than those of us that didn’t because the assessments went down but the assessed value of those homes have stayed at a higher level,” Holland said after Tuesday’s meeting.
Trustee Richard Kates also voiced concern about the historic value of the McQuet’s home citing the property received zero ratings on the rarity of construction method and its application, association with an historical event, person, cultural activity, architect or master builder in the commission’s evaluation of landmarks.
“I don’t agree with the conclusion,” Holland said.
The McQuets says even though their application was denied, they plan to still share the history of the home that was built in 1895.
Two Village Green Homes Have Landmark Status
Holland says McQuet’s home is part of a cohesive grouping of older houses around the Village Green. In a document for the council, the commission wrote that “it is important to recognize the prominent homes on the Village Green, 528 Maple St. being one of them. Two other homes on the Village Green are also local landmarks: 500 Maple St. (designated in 1994) and 507 Cedar St. (designated in 2009).”
It’s been increasingly harder for residents to get a designation for their homes, a request to designate four Tudor-revival commercial buildings as local landmarks were also denied earlier this year, according to Chicago Tribune.
The Preservation Committee Chairwoman says even though she is frustrated with the council’s decision, she hopes it won’t deter people from seeking landmark status.
“I hope people will still put their homes for landmarking,” she said.
Learn more about a 109-year-old Tudor-style mansion landmark home in Winnetka.