Historic Tax Credit gives a 20% credit to developers who buy old, historic buildings to rehabilitate them and turn them into things like apartment buildings, offices or retail stores. But Washington is considering eliminating the credit.
Could construction in downtown Rochester come to a halt? A tax reform plan circulating in Washington could slash an important resource for developers.
Historic Tax Credit gives a 20% credit to developers who buy old, historic buildings to rehabilitate them and turn them into things like apartment buildings, offices or retail stores.
Wayne Goodman, executive director of the Landmark Society of Western New York, says developers of The Sibley Center, Holy Rosary Apartments and 300 Alexander are among dozens of others throughout the City of Rochester who have benefited from historic tax credits. He says these credits have been used for both non-profit and for-profit businesses and are also used to create affordable housing.
"Taking these historic buildings that are beautiful, wonderful buildings and re-purposing them for a more modern use,” Goodman said. "Without the tax credit the revitalization and the resurgence of activity in downtown Rochester would simply take a step backwards.”
The 20% credit helps subsidize renovations on these projects and now this federal program is on the chopping block. Congressional Republican leaders have released their tax reform plan and it does not include Historic Tax Credits.
"Certainly if the tax credits were to be eliminated there would undoubtedly be a major impact not only in Rochester but in other city across the country experiencing the same challenges,” Goodman said.
New York Republican Congressman Chris Collins declined an interview about the tax credits. His spokeswoman, Sarah Minkel sent us the following statement, but didn't take a firm position on Historic Tax Credits.
“Congressman Collins is supportive of comprehensive tax reform that will help grow our economy and create jobs,” Minkel said. “The specific details of the tax framework are still being worked out and the Congressman will support any plan that is good for business and good for Western New York families.”
Goodman says these credits are great for business.
"If this program can help reprogram a space, create jobs, put the property back on the tax roll it's a win-win for everyone,” Goodman said.
There is a state program that gives a small tax credit to developers who fix up old buildings, but it is small compared to the federal program. For a tax reform plan to pass, congressional leaders on both sides must approve the plan. New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer says he supports Historic Tax Credits.