McCrory: Preserve history, create jobs through tax credits

May. 03, 2014 @ 02:58 PM

Could High Point’s history help fuel its economic recovery?
Hopes are high that this could be the case after a recent visit to the city by Gov. Pat McCrory, who endorsed two initiatives aimed at creating jobs and preserving history throughout the state.
The governor said his budget proposal will include funds to replace historic preservation tax credits that are set to expire, as well as a matching grant program for rehabilitation efforts in small towns.
McCrory made his proposal in front of the 100-year-old former Pickett Cotton Mill building in southwest High Point, which is set to be the new home of BuzziSpace, a Belgian furniture company.
“Many of these buildings are blight in their cities and towns, but there’s a chance for renewal if there are developers or investors who look at these buildings and see beyond the barbed-wire fence. They see beyond the neighborhood that’s gone down a little bit. They see a future,” McCrory said.
The state provides tax credits of up to 30 percent for rehabilitating historic structures and up to 40 percent for restoring old tobacco, textile and furniture mills.
These can be used in conjunction with a separate program that provides up to a 20 percent federal tax credit for restoring historic structures.
Since 1976, historic preservation incentives provided by the state and federal governments have helped bring in over $1.7 billion in private investment across the state, according to the governor’s office.
The state tax credit program will end on Jan. 1, 2015, but McCrory will propose a new program that would continue to provide tax credits.
This is great news to people like Preservation Greensboro Executive Director Benjamin Briggs, who lives in High Point and has worked extensively on preservation efforts in the city. Briggs also is an expert on High Point’s architecture.
He said several prominent buildings in High Point, such as the Market Square furniture showroom complex, the J.H. Adams Inn and the former Guilford County Courthouse building, all used tax credits in their redevelopment. Several historic houses in the city have been restored utilizing tax credits as well.
“You can’t imagine High Point without the Adams Inn, and you can’t imagine downtown without Market Square,” Briggs said. “It makes sense economically, because people who are investing their dollars appreciate the economic leverage that tax credits provide. And people who have an eye on history and tourism appreciate them because the buildings they end up having a hand in restoring really define our state and make it a place that people like to visit.”
McCrory said his budget will include $500,000 for the Main Street Solutions Fund, a matching grant program established in 2009 to rehabilitate buildings in smaller towns.
This and the tax credit program, he said, are aimed at helping cities and towns reinvent themselves after the loss of traditional industries. He said it’s important to revive Main Streets, which he called the “living rooms” of communities.
“When I come to recruit an industry, they might find a beautiful site but then go, ‘Show me the center city. I want to see your living room,’” he said. “If all you have in your living room is abandoned buildings and blight, it’s a tough sell.”
pkimbrough@hpe.com | 888-3531