Welcome to 2018! As you may have heard, there had been an open demolition request for 137 South Loudoun, the building most heavily damaged by the fire in February 2016, submitted to the Board of Architectural Review. We wanted to publicly share the news from the applicant that at the same time the Board of Architectural Review was meeting and discussing how to proceed on the demolition request yesterday, Part 1 of the historic tax credit application was approved by the Department of Historic Resources. The applicant will be proceeding to Part 2 of the application, and as such, the demolition request has been withdrawn.
This is a prime example of how the historic tax credit can help save endangered buildings. The tax credits will help make this project more financially feasible than it otherwise would have been, and the community can retain at least a substantial portion – and the most important portion for experiencing the downtown as a pedestrian – of the historic Italianate-style building. While there is still a long process ahead, we hope to see 137 South Loudoun Street recover and thrive.
On that note, while we mentioned that the Federal-level historic tax credit was spared the chopping block, we did note there was a change to the implementation. As of now there is no hard-hitting look at how spacing the credit over five years will impact projects financially, although there is expected to be some lessening of value. The National Trust for Historic Preservation recapped the changes due to the preservation community’s advocacy as such:
“This strong showing of support resulted in an amendment to restore the HTC to 20 percent. The amendment—offered by Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and cosponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; and Tim Scott, R-S.C.—was accepted at a critical moment in the Senate Finance Committee’s markup of the tax bill during the week of November 13. To file the amendment, however, Sen. Cassidy needed to identify a way to offset the cost of the incentive. The solution was to take the HTC in phases over five years instead of in its entirety the year a rehabilitated building is completed. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that phasing the HTC in this way reduces the cost of the program by approximately $2 billion over 10 years.”
The Trust also notes what a remarkable and almost improbable feat it was to retain the historic tax credit, noting that “[o]f the more than 300 amendments offered, the Finance Committee ultimately approved only about a dozen.” We hope to see more of this good luck spread to other preservation projects in 2018!