Call to action to save an economic engine

The federal Historic Tax Credit, is on the chopping block, yet that might not make economic sense, according to the Rutgers Univesity’s Annual Report on the Economic Impact of Historic Tax Credit for FY 2015.

Those seeking to rally opposition include Debbie Sheals, a local preservation consultant, and state and national nonprofits, Missouri Preservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Historic Tax Credit Coalition.

Here’s how you can get involved if you’re ready to take action:

Here’s a call to action from two nonprofits, the National Trust Community Investment Corp. and Missouri Preservation, headquartered in St. Louis. Here’s a factsheet, too.

Here’s a factsheet from the Historic Tax Credit Coalition and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

How do I know this isn’t fake news?

Why should you believe the Federal Historic Tax Credit is an economic engine?

Thinking critically and demanding proof is part of my job as a journalist. I look for information that comes from agencies and organizations that have “no dog in the fight,” — impartial researchers.

In this case, the research was done by Rutgers University in New Jersey. The university in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is employed by the National Park Service, and the university is independent of the National Park Service and won’t benefit from the results.

In addition, Rutgers is a valid research organization. It isn’t simply a back room in a foreign country.

What the report shows

In Fiscal Year 2015, the report shows, the Federal HTC $5 billion in spending yielded $4.8 billion in Gross Domestic Product. Yes, that’s a loss. But looking at the tax credit from its inception, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, the program has cost $120.8 billion but yielded $134.7 in GDP.

The report also notes that 55% of the certified rehabilitation projects in FY 2015 were located in low and moderate income census tracks.

Take a look at the report: Rutgers Univesity’s Annual Report on the Economic Impact of Historic Tax Credit for FY 2015.

Local example

In journalism, news values include proximity. We humans seem to care more about what’s near us or who we know.

Here is a link to an article I wrote in 2010 about the renovation — and tax credits for the project — of the Nowell building on Walnut Street by John Ott. He states clearly that projects like this depend on tax credits, yet those same tax credits hardly make him wealthy, he said. The tax credits make renovations economically possible.

Here’s more information about the article I wrote that was published in the Columbia Business Times.

Notable Properties: Historic Renovation Boosts Community Commerce — What if historic renovation made economic sense? Many say it does including Richard King, who operates The Blue Note, a thriving live music venue housed in the first building named to the Notable Properties List by the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission. The article can also be viewed on the Columbia Business Times website.

But don’t take my word for it — think critically and demand proof — and feel free to do your own research. And let me know what you learn. As a journalist, I can never have too much information.

Berry Building Receives State Honor

On Wednesday, Missouri Preservation will present the Preserve Missouri Award to John Ott for his renovation of the Berry Building, a former warehouse and grocery at 1025-33 Walnut Street.

Once nearly derelict, today the 33,000-square-foot building gleams with PS Gallery and Independent Staves, a firm that manufactures and sells wine and whiskey barrels all over the world, sharing the street level space. The first tenant was Wilson’s Fitness on the lower level and all 12 of the luxury loft apartments on the upper floors are leased.

Missouri Preservation is a nonprofit dedicated to historic preservation promotion, support and coordination. The event is sponsored by a number of firms including Commerce Bank and Murry’s Restaurant, and will include presentation ceremony, luncheon and keynote address by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder.

It’s the first time a Columbia building has been among the buildings honored by Missouri Preservation since 2008, when 1927 Central Dairy building was honored. The year prior, 2007, both the Howard Municipal Building and Gentry Buildings on Broadway were honored.

$15 million – Columbia’s Lucky Number

When Missouri’s legislature adjourned this spring it left intact the state’s Historic Tax Credit Program. Of course, the fight may not be over, the Missouri Preservation notes on its website.

Missouri Preservation notes the tax credit program can be thanked for roughly 43,000 jobs, $670,000 million in taxes and $2.9 billion in private investment, according the St. Louis University Study 2010.

Columbia benefited from the tax credit program to the tune of $15 million according to a document on the Missouri Preservation website, “Case Studies: Three Construction Projects in Columbia That Would Not Have Happened Without Historic Preservation Tax Credits.”

The document cites the following projects:

  • $2 million, 2007 renovation of the 1932 Coca Cola Bottling Company on Hitt Street, which now houses the Ragtag Cinema, Ninth Street Video and Uprise Bakery.
  • $10 million, 2007-2008 renovation of the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, which the document notes employed more than 350 workers from more than eight communities in addition to Columbia.
  • $3 million, 2008-2009 renovation of the Berry Building Warehouse on Walnut Street. Once nearly derelict, the building now houses a Wilson’s Fitness Center, 12 luxury apartments and retail space.

Interested in keeping those tax credit dollars flowing? Join Missouri Preservation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting, supporting and coordinating historic preservation activities in Missouri, and you will be kept informed.

Learn more about the tax credits  here.