An iconic landmark in Fairmont’s city center, the Masonic Temple was constructed in 1906 by Masonic Lodge Number Nine—and no expense was spared in the construction of the five-story, terracotta building.
Once an economic driver for the community—housing a U.S. Post Office, Ross Furniture, Pierson’s Print Shop, Webster College, and a variety of offices and apartments at various times throughout its history—the Masonic Temple now sits vacant.
The City of Fairmont is seeking a developer up to the challenge of restoring the historic structure to its former grandeur. Robin Gomez, Fairmont’s City Manager, welcomes development proposals that would bring economic value to the community’s downtown.
In 2013, the City replaced the roof, and in 2015, it boarded up the windows with panels displaying works of art. While the Temple has suffered from years of neglect, the structural integrity of the building remains. If a developer is up to the challenge, the Masonic Temple could very well be restored to its former grandeur.
A full rehabilitation is estimated at $4 million, while the 2016 property value was just $220,000. This is where the importance of the state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits cannot be stressed enough.
Because the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, any developer willing to restore the property could apply for state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits, as well as and development grants through the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office to make the project more cost-effective.
With West Virginia’s current historic tax credit rate of 10% and the federal historic tax credit rate of 20%, a potential developer would benefit from a reduction in their income tax liability equal to 30% of qualified rehabilitation expenditures. In this instance, a developer would receive a credit of $400,000 to reduce their state income tax and $800,000 to reduce their federal income tax. This leaves $2.8 million of the total $4 million in rehabilitation costs to come from additional sources.
However, if West Virginia were to increase the rate of its historic rehabilitation tax credit to 25%, a developer would receive a $1 million reduction in their state income tax, along with the $800,000 reduction in federal income tax. This leaves $2.2 million of the total $4 million in rehabilitation costs to come from additional sources.
A difference of $600,000 is enough to encourage a developer to consider a project in Fairmont versus Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Virginia—states that all have a 25% historic rehabilitation tax credit.
Thanks to a higher historic tax credit, these neighboring states have generated private investment, created short and long-term jobs, and increased local and state tax revenues. With a 25% historic rehabilitation tax credit, West Virginia will reap similar economic benefits.
To learn more about the campaign to increase the historic rehabilitation tax credit, please contact Nicole Marrocco.
If you’re interested in redeveloping the Masonic Temple, please contact Robin Gomez.