Update: House Passes Historic Rehab Tax Credit Increase


On Thursday, the proposal to increase the State Historic Tax Credit from 10 percent to 25 percent  passed the House with 90 votes! SB 238 was set to be read a second time when the House suspended the constitutional rule that requires a bill to be read on three separate days. The House then took the bill up for immediate consideration and passed it, as amended by House Finance. 

However, the amendments made by the House Finance Committee earlier this week are not ideal. The House Finance Committee Substitute would cap the funding for the State Historic Tax Credit program at $5 million dollars per year, increase the credit from 10 percent to 25 percent incrementally over the next three years, and limit the carryback and carryforward terms of the credit.

The $5 million dollar cap is unlikely to spark the redevelopment that is needed to revitalize West Virginia’s downtowns. Currently, in West Virginia if a developer completes a historic rehab project according to the state’s standards, their project then qualifies for the State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. However, the $5 million dollar annual cap changes the very nature of the program in that it destroys the certainty that if a developer complies with standards set forth by the state, they will receive the credit. This lack of certainty as to the outcome will discourage historic redevelopment projects that absolutely require the credit to be financially feasible.

Imposing a credit cap can produce an adverse result in terms of incentivizing projects that could have moved forward regardless of the tax credit while excluding those which are not financially viable without the state incentive.  Projects that require the credit to become viable may choose not to participate, because of the lack of certainty as to the outcome, the cost and time required to complete a competitive application that may not be rewarded, and the difficulties of arranging financing while working through an unpredictable process with the state. States without a program cap have been substantially more successful in attracting private investment to older areas that need it most than those states that have capped the credit.

As the committee substitute is currently written, the credit will increase to 15 percent on July 1, 2018. One year later, the credit will increase to 20 percent and in 2020, the credit would increase to 25 percent, which means that West Virginia’s State Historic Tax Credit will remain uncompetitive through June 30, 2020. To spur redevelopment and drive investment in our downtowns, the credit must be competitive with our neighboring states- Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, all of which currently have 25% Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits.

Lastly, the amendment to limit any unused portion of the credit from being carried back to any prior taxable year, or carried forward for a minimum of five years would negatively impact West Virginia’s small scale developers. Small scale developers often opt to spread the tax credit out over multiple years, rather than selling or syndicating it. The limits set forth in the substitute will hinder the ability of local property owners in the business of rehabbing small projects to utilize the full value of the State Historic Tax Credit. To incentivize small scale, main street type projects, taxpayers need the ability to carry the credit forward for at least 10 years, or ideally, 20 years.

For a bill to become law, an identical version must pass through both chambers. After passage in the Senate, the aforementioned amendments were made in the House Finance Committee, as a result, the bill will now be referred to a conference committee. Conference committees are typically comprised of three members from both chambers, selected by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House. Once the differences in both versions of the bill have been resolved by the conference committee, the bill will be sent to both chambers for an up or down vote.

The Intelligencer: Moving and Shaking in the West Virginia Senate


By Joselyn King / The Intelligencer

…The Senate on Wednesday also advanced a bill that would increase the amount of a tax credit available for rehabilitating certified historic structures.

Senate Bill 238, introduced by Ferns, would raise the tax credit from 10 percent to 25 percent for improving qualified properties for commercial use. As currently written, the tax credits would be available for qualified rehabilitation expenditures made after Dec. 31.

The measure unanimously passed the Senate Wednesday, and will move on to the House for the final week of the regular session.

Jake Dougherty, executive director of Wheeling Heritage, termed the measure “critical” for communities such as Wheeling with many older structures. With renovations, these properties could become useful and tax-producing, he said.

He said there are several significant and important commercial structures in downtown Wheeling that could benefit from the increase in the historic tax credit. Among these are the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel building, and the Marsh Stogie building.

“Without this credit, these buildings are not viable and we need an incentive to make them viable,”Dougherty said. “The tax credit would allow these buildings to be viable again, while creating construction jobs and converting vacant buildings to their potential. It would also increase the amount of their property taxes as they become productive again.”

Read the full story at www.theintelligencer.net.

Update: Full Senate Unanimously Passes Historic Rehab Tax Credit Increase

SB 238 Roll Call

This morning, the full Senate unanimously passed Com. Sub. for SB 238, which will increase the rate of West Virginia’s historic rehabilitation tax credit from 10% to 25%!

Over the course of the next week and a half, the Revitalize West Virginia Downtowns Coalition will be hard at work to get the bill through committee in the House and voted on by the full House of Delegates by midnight on April 8th.

If you’d like to see this bill pass, consider reaching out to your Delegates about SB 238. (OSAY is a handy new tool that empowers you to do just that!)

The State Journal: ‘The Past and Future City’ Ties Preservation to Development


By Brooks McCabe / The State Journal

Stephanie Meeks has written a timely book espousing the importance of historic preservation as it relates to future urban redevelopment. “The Past and Future City: How Historic Preservation Is Reviving America’s Communities,” is worth reading by anyone who has an interest in revitalizing our main streets and downtowns.

This is particularly appropriate for West Virginia as Huntington, Charleston, Clarksburg and Wheeling grapple with how to preserve the unique features and character of their downtowns. The book does an excellent job of presenting the case for an urban renaissance, bringing older buildings back to life through adaptive reuse. Multiple examples are provided showing how the young and old are finding the vibrancy of historic neighborhoods both invigorating and nurturing.

In their lives, working and playing come together in mixed-use communities built upon repurposing older structures that merge the past with the present in a way residents can envision a lifestyle that meets their 21st-century expectations. It is one where there is a real sense of identity, a sense of place, that’s speaks loud and clear that this is not “anywhere USA.” It is our town, our community and we are proud of our unique identity.

Read the full story at www.theet.com.

Update: Senate Finance Passes Committee Substitute for SB 238


After being removed from the Senate Finance agenda earlier in the week, a committee substitute for SB 238 passed the Senate Finance Committee Friday afternoon!

Com. Sub. SB 238 is essentially the same as the original bill with the addition of a December 31, 2017, effective date. This addition ensures that no historic tax credits will be applied to taxpayers personal or corporate net income tax liability until at least January 1, 2019.

House Finance had HB 2545 on their agenda on Friday as well. However, due to the number of bills on the agenda and the time the committee spent on each, Delegate Nelson pulled HB 2545 from the agenda after learning Com. Sub. SB 238 had passed Senate Finance earlier in the afternoon.

Because HB 2545 did not pass out of committee in its chamber of origin prior to March 26th, that bill is effectively “dead” — as are the other historic tax credit bills that were introduced but did not move.

Com. Sub. SB 238 is now the only historic tax credit bill left standing.

From here, Com. Sub. SB 238 will be read on the Senate floor three times (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) before being put to a vote before the full Senate on Wednesday. Wednesday the 29th also happens to be the last possible day the bill can pass out of the Senate.

If the bill passes the full Senate on Wednesday, Com. Sub. SB 238 will be read on the House floor on Thursday and referred to its House committees. We’ll then have to work to get the bill through the House committees before the last day of session, April 8th (next Saturday!).

Don’t hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions or comments.

Update: Finance Committee to Consider Historic Tax Credit Rate Increase

Thanks to everyone for your calls and emails! As a result of all your efforts, Senator Hall has placed the historic tax credit increase on the agenda for the next Finance Committee meeting Monday, March 20th, at 3:00 p.m.

If everything goes as planned and SB 238 passes out of Senate Finance without a hitch, the bill will be read three times on the floor — Tuesday through Thursday of this week — prior to being put to a vote by the full Senate on Thursday. After passage in the Senate, the bill will then crossover to the House to complete the full process again in that chamber.

If you’d like to show your support for SB 238, join us during the Finance Committee meeting in Room 451-M or follow along at home with the Legislature’s website. And consider contacting your Senators to request their support of SB 238 when it goes before the full Senate!

Historic Tax Credit Bills Stalled: Please Call Today!


Photo by Travel Throne

If you want to help reduce the number of abandoned properties in West Virginia and spark historic redevelopment in our communities, there’s something you can do right this minute.

It’s do or die time for Senate Bill 238 and House Bill 2545, both of which would increase the rate of West Virginia’s historic rehabilitation tax credit from 10% to 25%.

Both bills must pass out of their respective Finance Committees in the next two weeks (by March 26th!) to even have a chance of continuing on the path to becoming law.

The competition to be taken up by one of the Finance Committees is fierce. The Senate currently has 64 bills pending in Finance, while the House has 96 — these numbers are sure to multiply as the Legislature gets closer to March 26th.

If you care about downtown redevelopment and reducing the number of abandoned properties in West Virginia, please contact the Senate and House Finance Committee Chairs and tell them to make proposals to increase the historic tax credit a priority in their committees!

Contact Senator Mike Hall at 304-357-7901 or mike.hall@wvsenate.gov to discuss SB 238, and contact Delegate Eric Nelson at 304-340-3230 or eric.nelson@wvhouse.gov to discuss HB 2545.

While you’re encouraged to share your thoughts in your own words, here’s one suggestion that’s short and to the point:

“Hello, my name is […], and I support an increased historic rehabilitation tax credit rate. I’m calling to find out when [SB 238 / HB 2545] will be placed on the finance committee agenda.”

Increasing the state historic tax credit would spark the redevelopment of West Virginia’s abandoned historic buildings.

The historic rehabilitation tax credit is one of the few tax credits where the state’s investment is directly recouped via state and local taxes for as long as the rehabbed building is occupied.

At a time when West Virginia needs to kickstart its economy, it is critical that this proposal pass. West Virginia communities and taxpayers stand to benefit.

Enhanced local revenue. Historic rehab increases property value, which in turn increases local property tax revenue.

Jobs. Rehab projects create more jobs in the construction industry than new construction.

Downtown revitalization. The historic rehab tax credit is one of the most effective tools to encourage downtown revitalization and redevelopment.

Catalyst effect. The rehab of a single prominent building is in some cases sufficient to stimulate the revitalization of an entire area. In other cases, a series of smaller rehabs can result in the critical mass necessary to bring a neighborhood back to prosperity.

Improved & affordable housing stock. The conversion of former factories, warehouses, and other buildings into apartments and condos leads to the increased availability of housing, including low- and moderate-income housing.

Business & retail activity. Historic rehabilitation in downtown areas results in enhanced retail and business activity.

Efficient development. Historic rehabilitation makes use of existing infrastructure reducing the need for taxpayer dollars to construct new roads, water and sewer lines and gas, electrical, and telephone lines. In addition, especially if demolition costs are figured in, the cost of rehabilitation is often less than new construction, resulting in more efficient development.

Tourism. Through the use of the rehabilitation tax credits, heritage destination attractions are supported by revitalized historic neighborhoods where visitors can stay in bed-and-breakfast inns, shop in restored commercial areas, dine in creatively adapted buildings, and stroll through living neighborhoods showcasing a wealth of historic architecture

Without an increased historic rehabilitation tax credit rate of 25%, West Virginia is missing out on all of the above and more.

If you want West Virginia to make better use of its historic buildings, and create jobs and economic activity, please contact Senator Hall and Delegate Nelson!

Many thanks for your interest and energy. If you have any questions about the bills or would just like to talk more, be sure to get in touch.

Charleston Gazette-Mail: Environmental Restoration Creates Jobs, Grows WV


Photo by West Virginia Division of Tourism

By Evan Hansen and Jennifer Newland

With West Virginia’s budget deficit in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year and jobs so scarce, new economic development approaches are needed. A strategic partnership between Downstream Strategies and the Canaan Valley Institute offers an approach that links environmental restoration with economic development.

We work with partners to build on each community’s strengths, develop action plans and implement on-the-ground projects that clean up pollution and set the stage for new economic development.

Our work is part of a growing, statewide restoration industry that transforms liabilities into assets.

Restoration projects employ local people, diversify the state’s economy, support other economic sectors and improve our quality of life.

Brownfields are examples of liabilities found in many West Virginia communities. They are former industrial or commercial sites where future use is hindered by real or perceived environmental contamination. They sit unoccupied, a source of blight.

Tapping into federal funds allows us to assess and clean up contamination so that new businesses will move in. In Thomas, for example, we have assessed six sites across the town, including several dilapidated buildings, and we are working to assess and revitalize the town’s Riverfront Park, which straddles the North Fork of the Blackwater River in the historic downtown business district.

Some of the crumbling old buildings have already been removed or are now being renovated, complementing other revitalization efforts and improving safety and attractiveness of the downtown. Once the project is completed, the Riverfront Park will be fully developed with trails and a new pedestrian bridge connecting the downtown to trailhead showers and bathrooms, a fishing pier, sculpture gardens, and an outdoor amphitheater.

Read the full story at www.wvgazettemail.com.

The State Journal: Historic Preservation is a Major Opportunity in W.Va.


Photo by Travel South USA

By Brookes McCabe / The State Journal

There is a renewed interest in increasing West Virginia’s historic rehabilitation tax credit from 10 percent to 25 percent. The suggestion has considerable merit, even given the state’s current dire financial situation.

The state is redefining itself as a diversified economy supported by a high quality of life rooted in the natural splendor of its mountains, streams and valleys, accentuated by historic downtowns with a size and scale of communities making it Almost Heaven.

West Virginia is in the middle of learning to live within its means. The current fiscal crisis is front and center; it must be dealt with immediately, as painful as it might be. However, everyone also agrees the long-term solution to West Virginia’s woes is to significantly grow a diversified economy and the jobs that go along with it. The end game is more and better jobs; the state’s fiscal shortfalls will be lessened accordingly.

It is further agreed that state government’s role is not to create jobs, but to provide a regulatory and tax structure that strongly encourages private-sector investment and job creation. This is exactly what a well-conceived historic rehabilitation tax credit program can and will do.

Read the full story at www.theet.com.

Update: Bill 238 Unanimously Approved by Senate Committee on Economic Development



Photo by Martin Valent / West Virginia Legislature

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Economic Development unanimously approved SB 238 be reported to the floor. The bill, introduced by Senator Ferns, would increase the rate of the historic rehabilitation tax credit to 25%.

During this morning’s floor session, Senator Maroney, Chair of Economic Development, recommended that SB 238 do pass but that it first be referred to Finance. Senator Hall, the Finance Chair, will have the option of putting either SB 238 or SB 323 (which has already been referred to Finance) on the committee’s agenda in the coming weeks.

The major difference between the two bills is that SB 238 does not have an effective date, whereas SB 323 has a provision that states only rehabilitation projects that begin after June 30, 2017 will be eligible for the increased rate.

Stay tuned for more updates!