The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is urging U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to support the availability of historic tax credits utilized to attract investment in small towns nationwide.
Many developers, property owners, and members of the alliance are concerned that tax reforms being proposed by Congress could eliminate credits that offset construction costs, according to Danielle LaPresta, executive director of the organization.
U.S. Representatives Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., and David McKinley, R-W.Va., have been outspoken in their support for the credits, she said.
"We are grateful that McKinley and Jenkins requested the inclusion of this economic-development tool in the tax reform bill," LaPresta said.
"Both legislators represent districts in which historic tax credits are attracting private investment."
Historic tax credits helped finance 92 commercial-rehabilitation projects in West Virginia between 2002 and 2016, leveraging more than $175 million in development investment and supporting more than 3,500 construction jobs, she said.
"These credits are highly influential when it comes to attracting larger businesses into West Virginia downtowns," LaPresta said.
The tax credit was championed by President Ronald Reagan to encourage the rehabilitation of abandoned and underutilized properties. Since 1981, it has leveraged more than $131 billion in private investment and created more than 2.4 million, she said.
The state Legislature in October increased the State Historic Tax Credit from 10 to 25 percent, but weakening or eliminating the Federal Historic Tax Credit could endanger the feasibility of nearly all historic rehabilitation projects in West Virginia.
"We think the credit complements, rather than hinders, Congress's goal of pro-growth tax reform," LaPresta said.
“There are a dozen buildings that we predicted would be rehabilitated with the increase of the state historic tax credit. Now, with the proposed elimination of the federal credit, we fear progress will be jeopardized."
The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is a non-profit dedicated to historic preservation and a statewide partner in the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
LaPresta is urging business leaders who wish to advocate for the federal historic tax credit to contact the alliance at 304-345-6005 or visit its website at PAWV.org.