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Finding New Uses for Historic Properties

The Historic Surplus Property Program enables state, county and local governments to obtain historic buildings once used by the federal government at no cost, and adapt them to new uses.

Eligible properties are listed in, or eligible for listing in, the National Register of Historic Places and determined appropriate for this program by the General Services Administration (GSA), or the Department of Defense (DoD) for some military properties. Government entities that receive transferred properties may use them for public facilities, such as museums and government offices, or can lease and develop them as income-producing commercial ventures. In certain instances, developers may be eligible for federal preservation tax incentives for historic buildings.

Photo of Federal Post Office used as Rochester NY  office space
Rochester, NY uses this former post office and courthouse for its city offices.

Program Partners

The National Park Service assists GSA and DoD in the transfer of historic properties they have identified as no longer needed by the federal government. Applications for historic surplus property are reviewed by the National Park Service and include three major components: a use plan, a financial plan, and an architectural plan. All changes to properties being transferred under this program must be made in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s “Standards for Rehabilitation.” Recipients of historic surplus properties must commit the funds necessary to preserve and maintain the property in perpetuity. The National Park Service also monitors the condition of these properties in perpetuity.

Last Updated:
March 10, 2009