One of the most powerful tools in the preservation tool box, the federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit is at risk of elimination as part of an effort to cut federal spending. New York State needs this economic development and job creation incentive. Losing it would threaten more than $1.2 billion in historic property redevelopment projects pending statewide.
“By listing the federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit as one of our Seven to Save, we are alerting municipal leaders and developers of historic properties across New York of the threat to this program,” said Jay DiLorenzo, president of the Preservation League. “We’re making the protection and expansion of this essential economic and community redevelopment tool a statewide priority for our public policy program advocacy.”
The League is urging elected officials to support the “Creating American Prosperity through Preservation” (CAPP) Act to preserve this important credit and to ensure that efforts to revitalize our communities are not jeopardized. United States Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are co-sponsors of the CAPP Act legislation, which is awaiting introduction in the House.
“The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program is helping to strengthen our communities across Central New York and the state,” said U.S. Representative Dan Maffei. “The program is an effective economic development tool that encourages private sector investment, and we must work in a bipartisan way to protect and improve this important community revitalization initiative for years to come.”
“More than seventy percent of applications from New York State to the federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program come from Upstate New York projects,” said Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO, in Syracuse. “It represents the largest and most effective national preservation incentive available to developers, driving private reinvestment for the redevelopment of historic buildings and communities. Without access to the federal credit, projects such as the transformation of the Pike Block and the restoration of the Hotel Syracuse might not be possible.”
According to DiLorenzo, “Opportunities like these come up once in a generation. Millennials are drawn to walkable communities, and historic properties answer market demand by providing the quirky and interesting places where young professionals want to live and work. Without Federal and State Historic Tax Credits, the numbers don’t add up on many rehabilitation projects. Simply put, the projects we complete – or fail to complete – in this decade will determine what many of our upstate cities look like in 2050.”
“The availability of state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits are a critical component of the Hotel Syracuse’s redevelopment,” said Edward M. Riley, managing member of Syracuse Community Hotel Restoration Company 1, LLC, the lead developer for the Hotel Syracuse. “The credit enables us to leverage private funding and reduces the direct taxpayer subsidy needed, enabling projects like ours to create jobs and breathe new life into historic structures in our communities.”
“The Historic Tax Credits that VIP received represented nearly twenty-five percent of the Pike Block project cost. Without this funding, the redevelopment of these buildings would not have been financially viable,” said David C. Nutting, president of VIP Structures. “The Historic Tax Credits allow developers to invest in historically significant buildings, helping communities preserve their history.”
“Over the past decade, Capital Region communities have seen nearly $100 million dollars in building rehabilitation projects incentivized by the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit program,” said Duncan Barrett, Chief Operating Officer of Omni Housing Development LLC. “More importantly, more than $114 million in projects are planned over the next several years. We cannot afford to lose this federal incentive that so effectively brings jobs, housing, and private reinvestment back to the cores of our communities.”
“Buffalo leads Upstate New York State in utilization of the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program, and the ongoing revitalization of our city has seen more than $234 million in rehabilitation investments sparked by this federal program over the past decade,” said Steven J. Weiss, Partner in the law firm of Cannon, Heyman & Weiss. “With more than $124 million in pending rehabilitation projects in Buffalo alone, and increasing use in the Southern Tier and Erie Canal corridor, protecting and enhancing the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit program needs to be a priority for Congressional representatives in Western New York.”
Since 1999, Seven to Save has mobilized community leaders and decision-makers to take action when historic resources – or in this case, the tools that help protect historic resources – are threatened. A Seven to Save designation from the League delivers invaluable technical assistance, fosters increased media coverage and public awareness, and opens the door to grant assistance for endangered properties.
Publicity and advocacy resulting from Seven to Save designation has led to the rehabilitation and reopening of the Oswego City Public Library, the rebirth of Montauk Manor on Long Island, and the rededication of the once-abandoned George Harvey Justice Building in Binghamton and successes in other locations.
The Preservation League of New York State is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1974. The League invests in people and projects that champion the essential role of preservation in community revitalization, sustainable economic growth, and the protection of New York’s historic buildings and landscapes. It leads advocacy, economic development, and education programs all across the state.
Photo: The Franklin Building in Watertown won an Excellence in Preservation Award from the League in 2011. It utilized Federal Historic Tax Credits to provide commercial and residential space.