Incorporating High-Definition Scanning in the National Register of Historic Places Nomination

Incorporating High-Definition Scanning in the National Register of Historic Places Nomination of the Proposed Miller Tract/Center-Soll Historic District in Des Moines, Iowa

By Colleen Kinney, local project coordinator, NorthofGrandHistory@gmail.com Aaron West awest@mecresults.com and Ted Black tblack@mecresults.com at McClure Engineering Company

In 1924, Better Homes & Gardens magazine touted the efforts of a Des Moines, Iowa community group as a national model in the article, “Getting Neighborliness in your Neighborhood: How the Center-Soll Community Has Brought Its Neighborhood Together.” Nine decades later, that spirit of neighborliness and innovative thinking lives on. Today, Center-Soll is part of the North of Grand Neighborhood Association. It is working with others to nominate the proposed Miller Tract / Center-Soll historic district to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) using a high-tech twist: high-definition scanning (HDS). This state-of-the-art technology is a resource for cost-effective, sensitive rehabilitation projects and can lead to making proactive, multi-generational planning decisions.

How is it possible that current and future generations may experience segments of this vibrant mixed-use neighborhood in realistic, three-dimensional detail? North of Grand and the City of Des Moines secured grant funds[i] from county, state and private sources to hire architectural historian Jennifer Irsfeld James to prepare the traditional NHRP nomination, as well as contract with McClure Engineering Company (MEC) to perform and process HDS services.

Ted Brad Leica scanner Aaron-Ingersoll SGSMEC’s Ted Black, Brad Geater and Aaron West are shown on-site in this November 2015 photo to the right.

On November 9-10, 2015, MEC digitally archived segments of the proposed historic district for posterity by placing a Leica P40 scanner every 30 yards along the public right-of-way, as depicted by yellow triangles on this site plan image.

[i] This NRHP nomination project as well as prior intensive survey were supported in part by the North of Grand Neighborhood (go to Facebook page “NorthofGrandDSM”), City of Des Moines-Community Development Department, Polk County (Iowa) Community Betterment Grant program, Neighborhood Investment Corporation grant funds, State Historical Society of Iowa’s (SHSI) Historical Resource Development Program, and the SHSI-Certified Local Grant program. For additional information, please contact McClure Engineering Company http://mecresults.com/

SiteMapSource: McClure Engineering Company’s site map of proposed Miller Tract / Center-Soll historic district in the North of Grand Neighborhood, roughly 35th-38th Streets, Center to Ingersoll, about 2 miles west of downtown Des Moines

The Leica P40 device emits a laser beam that captures millions of data points per second to create raw sets of measurements known as ‘point clouds,’ (pts) files, accurately referenced by x (Northing), y (Easting), and z (Elevation) coordinates relative to all other point locations with millimeter precision. Then, Aaron West and Ted Black used Leica Cyclone software to process the data, and incorporate digital photography and geospatial information. We will provide an update in the next few months about some anticipated HDS uses:

  1. Education. The public may experience segments of the proposed historic district by viewing HDS-generated drawings, fly-through animations and videos via community groups’ websites.
  2. Documentation. Due to low awareness and sizable expense, HDS is rarely, if ever used for NRHP historic district nominations in the United States. For the first time in Iowa, HDS data will supplement North of Grand’s traditional photography nomination documentation. We anticipate that the Iowa State Historic Preservation Office will review the nomination for NRHP eligibility. In October 2016, Iowa’s State Nominations Review Committee will evaluate the materials, and if it concurs, the NRHP nomination will be sent to the National Park Service for review and hopefully approval. Besides honorary recognition, NRHP determination of eligibility triggers possible 20% federal and 25% state tax incentives and other financial incentives,[1] if an owner chooses historically-sensitive rehabilitation.
  3. Architectural Planning. Coupled with financial incentives, HDS is another resource for interested parties considering significant rehabilitation to existing structures. For instance, the owners of the dilapidated 1939 Ingersoll Theatre, situated in the heart of the proposed historic district, could hire architects to analyze and manipulate HDS data and create as-built models. HDS could also help major rehabilitation of apartments, bungalows or other structures located in the proposed historic district pencil out financially. Stakeholders would take tremendous pride in revitalizing the area, which could help reduce blight, curb crime and boost the city’s economic vitality.

Ingersoll Theatre

As this project progresses, we will share milestones with LiDAR News. The project is generating excitement as we learn more about the past while welcoming the potential historic district’s future using 21st century technological tools like HDS.

[1] Learn more about state historic rehabilitation financial incentives like grants and tax credit programs that may be available for NRHP-eligible and NRHP-listed properties in Iowa at http://iowahistory.org/historic-preservation/tax-incentives-for-rehabilitation/index.html. Federal tax credits are only available for qualified, income-producing properties.

[1] This NRHP nomination project as well as prior intensive survey were supported in part by the North of Grand Neighborhood (go to Facebook page “NorthofGrandDSM”), City of Des Moines-Community Development Department, Polk County (Iowa) Community Betterment Grant program, Neighborhood Investment Corporation grant funds, State Historical Society of Iowa’s (SHSI) Historical Resource Development Program, and the SHSI-Certified Local Grant program. For additional information, please contact McClure Engineering Company http://mecresults.com/

[2] Learn more about state historic rehabilitation financial incentives like grants and tax credit programs that may be available for NRHP-eligible and NRHP-listed properties in Iowa at http://iowahistory.org/historic-preservation/tax-incentives-for-rehabilitation/index.html. Federal tax credits are only available for qualified, income-producing properties.

 

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