Preservation tax credits to sunset in North Carolina

by Whitney Kenerly & Daniel Schere

The Book Trader building in downtown Greensboro.

Preservationists across the state are experiencing thedoldrums today after the General Assembly decided not to include the historictax credits in the upcoming state budget.

Preservation Greensboro posted the following message onFacebook on Friday:

“Last night, efforts to continue our state’s historic taxcredit program were ended. The credits will now sunset on December 31, 2014.THANK YOU for taking time to contact your elected officials, and specialappreciate goes to our elected officials who took the time to understand andsupport the impact of our hard work on the economy, especially Guilford CountyRepresentative Jon Hardister. Preservationists will now have an opportunity towork on a new legislation through a state-appointed study commission in timefor the 2015 Long Session.”

Hardister shared in an email to Preservation GreensboroDevelopment Director John Graham that even with expected House support for thebill today, that the outcome looks grim as the Senate members have already gonehome.

The lack of historic tax credits will likely mean that manyprojects will be put on pause. While theconstruction at Revolution Mill would not be affected the preservation effortsfor many downtown buildings, such as the Book Trader, would no longer receivethe assistance of the historic tax credits beginning in 2015.

Graham said that for a city like Greensboro that has severalhistoric buildings that have fallen into a state of disrepair, the lack ofhistoric tax credits could create barriers to development.

“These tax credits are what make marginal projects doable,”said Graham.

The lack of tax credits could also have an effect on anumber of economic development projects planned in Winston Salem, if they arenot completed by the end of the year.

Winston-Salem councilman James Taylor Jr. said he thinks nothaving the tax credit could harm the way business is done locally.

When it comes time to balance the budget, I don’tthink it’s good to balance it on the backs of the people or the backs ofexpansion, he said.

Taylor said tax credits are necessary for cities in NorthCarolina that have been undertaking downtown redevelopment projects.

Winston-Salem is competing with Charlotte, Raleigh,and several other cities across the state and the country, he said.If we’re going to be competitive we have to have the ability to redevelopour buildings and make the city attractive to prospective citizens, youngprofessionals, and people of that nature.

Taylor thinks the lack of tax credits could stifle projectslike the development of the former RJ Reynolds building into a hotel andresidential units as well as other building restorations. He said without thetax credit, which has been available for 16 years, council will be moredeliberate in their financial decision making process

I think you will see the trickledown effect, hesaid. So instead of the state offering tax credits, I think you will seemore developers coming forward to us for incentives and extra support and we’llhave to balance the best we can.