The Oregon Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue is holding a public hearing on an economic development bill that would create a tax credit for certified historic commercial property rehabilitation projects.
Video – Restore Oregon
The Revitalize Main Street Act (SB 565) would establish a 25 percent rebate for certified rehabilitation of historic commercial buildings including hotels, theaters, factories, mills and other income-producing properties.
The bill is being pushed by historic preservation group Restore Oregon, which claims that passage of this bill would provide a boost to Oregon economic development.
They cite an economic impact study by economic consulting firm EcoNorthwest, which looks at the benefits of a state historic rehabilitation incentive for Oregon. According to this study, a $10.6 million state investment by 2018 would result in four times more buildings being rehabbed and would attract $13.3 million in addition federal Historic Tax Credit dollars per year.
It would create 1,369 jobs per year generating an income of $25.5 million, and a $2.3 million net increase in property taxes per year.
The 25 percent rebate would be especially beneficial in revitalizing main streets in rural Oregon communities, where it could be paired with the federal Historic Tax Credit to close the funding gap that prevents historic buildings from being restored. Out of the 2,600 or so buildings that could use the credit if it becomes available, some two-thirds are outside Portland.
Even in urban areas where there are developers willing to knock down historic properties and redevelop them, it is far more environmentally sustainable to rehabilitate and reuse old buildings. It would take over 80 years even for the most energy efficient building to make up for the energy used up for demolishing the old structure and constructing the new one.
If approved, Oregon would join 35 other states that already have a state historic rehabilitation tax credit that complements the federal tax credit available for these projects.
SB 565 would target the state investment towards the most important historic properties in Oregon that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Eligible projects would require to make a minimum rehabilitation investment of $10,000.
The bill creates a State Historic Rehabilitation Fund, and directs the Department of Revenue, in cooperation with State Historic Preservation Officer, to conduct auction of tax credits. The auction proceeds would be deposited in the fund and used for the purpose of offering rebates to property owners for eligible rehabilitation expenses for historic properties.