McCrory touts historic preservation tax credits

Apr. 23, 2014 @ 05:37 PM

Gov. Pat McCrory traveled to High Point Wednesday to call for state legislation to replace historic preservation tax credits that are set to expire.
McCrory said his upcoming budget proposal to state lawmakers will also include funds to revive the Main Street Solutions incentives program for small businesses.
Both measures are aimed at spurring the rehabilitation of old buildings and creating jobs. McCrory made his proposal in front of the former Pickett Cotton Mill in southwest High Point, which is set to be the new home of BuzziSpace, a Belgian furniture company.
“This building is just another example of how, if you preserve something long enough and keep it intact, it can be reused and rebuild an entire neighborhood,” he said. “It all revolves around this historic building, where hundreds of people used to work and hundreds of people will again work. I want this to be repeated across North Carolina.”
The state’s historic rehabilitation tax credit, in which an investor who refurbishes a historic property can have their state taxes reduced by up to 20 percent, will expire Jan. 1, 2015. A similar initiative that offers federal tax credits will remain in place.
It was one of several tax credit measures the N.C. General Assembly eliminated as part of a sweeping overhaul of the state’s tax system enacted last year.
McCrory’s proposal, dubbed the Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program, would work in a similar fashion to the current program, which is credited with helping bring about redevelopment of hundreds of historic buildings throughout the state.
The legislature would have to approve the program for it to take effect. McCrory said his administration will attempt this during the short session of the legislature next month, but the measure is expected to be difficult to enact.
“I’m going to make a recommendation to revive this program, redefine it, make it even more effective and preserve buildings, preserve our history and create jobs,” he said. “This is not going to be an easy fight. There’s going to be some pushback against this, because it is a tough budget time.”
McCrory added that his budget proposal will include $500,000 for the Main Street program, which was done away with by the legislature several years ago. The initiative would be a matching grant program aimed at rehabilitating buildings in smaller towns.
“You’ve got to repair the blight and then repair and reform the neighborhoods on our Main Streets throughout North Carolina,” he said.
Officials said there is no estimate at this time for the projected cost of McCrory’s proposed historic preservation program.
“It really depends on the amount of investment per year, because that really varies depending on what the private market is willing to put into these buildings,” said Ramona M. Bartos, deputy state historic preservation officer.
BuzziSpace, which plans to create 113 jobs and invest more than $1.75 million over the next five years in the Pickett building, expects to start preparing the site next month and begin operations by September, said BuzziSpace USA Owner Tom Van Dessel.
The company makes workspace furniture, acoustical treatments, fabrics and wallpaper, and will lease the 100-year-old building, which could be a prime candidate for historic preservation tax credits.
“Certainly, the mill credits, we’re definitely going to be looking at those,” Van Dessel said. “We’re very pleased the governor announced there’s a push to extend that.”