Dear NYS Leaders:
OK folks, it's time. It's time to expand NY's underperforming historic rehabilitation tax credit program. What's that? You're a little fuzzy on the benefits of historic rehabilitation to upstate communities? No problem, here's a handy refresher:
Economic Stimulator: Historic rehabs put local people to work and remain more feasible in tough economic climates due to the availability of meaningful financial incentives.
Downtowns and Neighborhoods: Historic rehabs invigorate our old downtowns and neighborhoods while reinforcing prior investment in those areas.
Sustainability: Adapting old structures for new uses reduces landfilling and energy waste and provides excellent opportunities to "green" those buildings into more efficient structures.
That's fine, you say, but what will passage of the Rehabilitation Tax Credit Expansion Bill (A6471/S2960) do to stimulate historic rehab activity? I'm glad you asked:
Gap Funding: Historic rehabs face a number of financial hurdles in NY. By (a) increasing the cap on historic tax credits from $100,000 to $5,000,000 and (b) matching the amount the NY tax credits to the federal tax credits, you will increase the pool of gap financing for upstate projects.
Syndication: Syndication (the process through which tax credits are converted to project equity) is a critical aspect of a successful tax credit program. By increasing the per-project amount of the credits (see above) and by permitting the transfer of tax credits within investment vehicles, you will improve the prospects for syndication, thereby improving the financial feasibility of your communities' historic rehabs.
So, like I said, it's time. If you don't find these ideas compelling, here's another thought - more historic rehabs means more opportunities to cut ribbons with comically oversized scissors. I thought that might grab you.