Last week was the 35th anniversary of the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives (FHPTI) Program. To mark the occasion, the National Park Service (NPS) released a report on the program’s achievements and its usefulness.
FHPTI, which is administered by the NPS, encourages private investments in projects that undertake rehabilitation and reuse of historic buildings.
Property owners get a 20 percent tax credit, provided for rehabilitation of historic properties so that they can be used for a business or income-producing purpose while still retaining the original historic structure.
Highlights from the report, summarizing the program’s effectiveness from its first project in 1977 through to FY 2012:-
- Helped attract $66 billion ($106 billion after adjusting for inflation) in private capital for rehabilitating historic buildings;
-Supported 2.4 million jobs that are higher paying and more skilled than new construction;
- Supported rehabilitation of historic properties through more than 38,000 certified projects;
- Projects supported by FHPTI have rehabilitated or created 460,000 housing units, of which 124,000 are low and moderate income units.
In FY 2012 alone, the program offered tax incentives to projects that plowed $3.5 billion into local economies, supporting around 57,000 jobs.
One of the projects highlighted in the report is the original Sears, Roebuck and Company world headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, which dates back to 1905. The 55-acre site had a number of buildings, which have gradually been developed into more than 300 housing units and a community center.
A $31 million rehabilitation project supported by FHPTI was undertaken at this site to convert the powerhouse into the Charles H. Shaw Technology and Learning Center. The classroom facilities are being used by the Henry Ford Power House Charter High School, whose enrollment grew to more than 400 high school students.
The project retained not just the historic structure, but also some of the building’s energy production technology, and added to it with new sustainable energy technology including geothermal cooling and heating. Thanks to all these efforts, the project has been awarded LEED Platinum certification.
NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said that FHPTI was the nation’s most effective program promoting community revitalization and historic preservation.
Jarvis also mentions in the report foreword that while the accomplishments of the program are considerable, this is also a good time to look forward towards the more than 1.4 million buildings that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places or are a part of historic districts.
Around 20 percent of these buildings qualify as income-producing sites, and each year many of them are lost because of demolitions or fire.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell sounded a similar note when she said that FHPTI has proven to be an extraordinary success since its inception. She said the tax incentives helped preserve the past, benefit the economy in the present, and ensure remembrance of the national heritage in the future.
Read the full NPS report on the FHPTI Program – Download (pdf)