Improvements proposed to historic preservation tax credit program

HARRISBURG, May 15 – State Reps. Robert Freeman, Lee James and state Sen. David G. Argall said a report about the state’s historic preservation incentive tax credit program shows it is successful but that it should be enhanced.

The legislators were joined at a Capitol news conference today by officials from Preservation Pennsylvania, the statewide historic preservation advocacy organization that commissioned the report.

“Preservation Pennsylvania is pleased to share the results of an independent economic study that demonstrates the value of a strong state historic tax credit. A $1 million investment in historic rehabilitation generates 6.4 direct jobs and 5.6 indirect jobs in Pennsylvania and an additional $853,514 of economic activity. This study demonstrates the success of similar programs with higher annual allocations in other states and projects the economic impact of an expanded program in Pennsylvania,” said Mindy Gulden Crawford of Preservation Pennsylvania.

Freeman and Argall have introduced legislation (H.B. 1173 and S.B. 541) that would extend the program’s sunset date from 2020 to 2030 and increase the program’s annual cap to $30 million, matching the level provided in West Virginia’s program. Individual projects would be capped at $2.5 million.

“By enacting these changes, we would put Pennsylvania in a more competitive position with neighboring states allowing us to leverage more investment to rehabilitate older structures in our communities,” said Freeman, D-Northampton.

The bills would enhance the market value of credits by allowing credits to be transferred more easily and affording purchasers and transferees more certainty.

“This proposal maintains the existing protections to ensure equitable distribution of tax credits across the state by region,” said James, R-Venango/Butler.

Under the bills, workforce housing would be offered a higher credit percentage. The measures also would provide the legislature with better reporting, including the list of projects awarded with tax credits, the amount of federal and/or state tax credits received by each project, the number of properties impacted by the tax credits, jobs created because of the tax credits and more.

“Historic preservation tax credits have been very effective in encouraging development, at both the state and federal level,” said Argall, R-Schuylkill/Berks. “In many of these cases, these buildings were once the pride of the community and now unfortunately, they’re symbols of blight and urban decay. I am hopeful that this legislation will allow Pennsylvania to transform more blighted historical buildings and encourage downtown revitalization.”

More information about the legislation may be found here.