Urban Agenda -- 21st Century Political Renewal

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Reprinted w/permission-Washington Post Writers Group & the artist

Building a pro-city platform and Urban Agenda for the next Presidential campaign & locally.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Community Restoration and Revitalization Act, HR3159

Cleveland ArcadeCleveland Arcade. Restoration architects: Jonathan Sandvik and Associates. Photo courtesty of http://www.clevelandskyscrapers.com/cleveland/arcade.html. This project utilized Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credits.

From Heather MacIntosh, President of Preservation Action--

What's Happening Now: An inside view of preservation policies and politics in our nation's capitol

On the (Re-reintroduced) Community Restoration and Revitalization Act

Concerned about sprawl and the health of American cities? Then you should join Preservation Action in supporting the Community Restoration and Revitalization Act, HR3159, particularly a new provision strongly supported by Representative Phil English (R-PA) the bill's new sponsor within the majority party. Although the reintroduced bill received great support from preservationists during Lobby Day, the new provision is a significant improvement worthy of special attention and significant grassroots support.

The provision broadens the tax credit's use to condominium developments and in so doing, provides new support for the revitalization of urban neighborhoods nationwide. The bill's provision removes a recapture clause -- requiring the payback of tax credits upon conversion of a tax credit property into a condo development. This clause has significantly limited the credit's use. To provide some perspective on the value of the provision, Preservation Action polled some of our members who are developers, preservationists, and are actively concerned with the quality of life in urban areas. This is what they said:

In Seattle: "I like the condo provision as it's not limited to residential use only . The (condo) provision could be a of great benefit to the preservation of historic structures in the inner city by extending these buildings' lives through different uses driven by current market conditions rather than forcing demolition because of functional obsolescence. It could also provide an opportunity for much needed workforce housing within the urban core. This might be exactly what the Pioneer Square (Old Seattle) neighborhood needs (the neighborhood has lagged behind the economic development of the rest of the city), but as of now, this opportunity is not available to building owners."

-- Kevin Daniels, President, Nitze Stagen & Company, (developers of Seattle's Union Station and the Starbucks Center Building, Starbucks' global headquarters) also on the Board of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation

In Chicago: "In office markets such as Chicago, historic structures with class B and C office space are increasingly in peril. Further, conversion of these buildings to residential rental buildings is unrealistic because of the softness in that market. By removing the 5 year holding period before a Tax Credit project can be converted to condominium the Historic Tax Credit becomes tailored for the realities of today’s real estate market and stands out as a very powerful tool for downtown redevelopment, preservation of important historic resources and an outstanding economic development tool for our cities."

-- Will Tippens, LR Realty (developers of historic and contemporary buildings) based in Chicago and also on the Board of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois

In Oklahoma City: "Oklahoma City would be acutely affected. Oklahoma City has experienced a dramatic upswing in downtown/"midtown" redevelopment, but housing is lagging. There is credible market information as of 2002 showing an existing demand for at least 6000 market rate owner-occupied residential units in the OKC downtown area. I personally know of several potential historic rehab projects that can't go forward because of the condo convert recapture. If the recapture was eliminated, I'm sure you'd see a dramatic uptick in office and residential rehab downtown. I can only imagine that redevelopment of this type winds up benefiting everyone by decreasing infrastructure costs associated with sprawl and reenergizing tax bases, among other things."

-- Jim Rogers, Avondale Investments, a tax credit and asset management consulting company in Oklahoma City and is on the Board of Red Earth Community Development Enterprise.

Let members of the House Ways and Means Committee know you care, and what the provision might do for your community.

Be sure to visit Preservation Action's evolving website for regular updates, insights, and background on this and other preservation issues now being considered by Congress. And if there's something you want to know that's not on the site, just let us know.

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