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Freeman Bill Would Provide Tax Incentives, Grants For Preservation Projects

Rep. Bob Freeman (D-Northampton), and historic preservation and environmental groups this week discussed the need for state tax incentives for residential and commercial historic preservation projects, studies providing data to the topic and a bill currently in the state House.
           Rep. Freeman is the prime sponsor of House Bill 42, and state Sen. Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill) is the point person in the state Senate.
            House Bill 42 would establish the Historic Preservation Incentive Grant Program within the Department of Community and Economic Development. The program is designed to provide tax credits for certain historic commercial projects – up to $500,000, and grants for certain residential external rehabilitation or restoration projects – up to $15,000.
            “These tax incentives and credits can act as a form of economic stimulus for older communities, creating restoration and construction jobs while also preserving historic buildings and improving the look of older communities," Rep. Freeman said.
            The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission would review requests within 45 days of application, with priority given to properties located within Elm Street and Main Street communities, enterprise zones and historic districts. All projects would have to be completed within two years.
            "In order to preserve historic buildings, it is vital that we provide assistance to owners to renovate and preserve them," Rep. Freeman said. “These historic structures are among the best assets that older communities have to draw on. Their renovation is a significant part of any successful urban revitalization effort.”
            Melinda Crawford, executive director of Preservation Pennsylvania, said a study commissioned by the cooperative effort PA Works provided information about the strong economic impact of the federal tax credit program in Pennsylvania over the last six years.
            "In 31 other states, the federal tax credit has been successfully combined with a state incentive program, resulting in more projects, bigger projects and a stronger economic impact placing more buildings back on the tax rolls, creating thousands of housing units and generating good high paying jobs that stay in the communities," Crawford said. 
            "Pennsylvania could benefit greatly by also passing a historic incentive program that would work in tandem with the successful federal rehabilitation tax credits." 
            House Bill 42 has passed the House in six previous sessions. 


5/31/2010

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