A Call For Changes To NYS Historic Tax Credits

Feb 28, 2018

The Preservation League of New York State is asking legislators to support changes to historic tax credits.

The Preservation League brought advocates, business leaders and government officials together at the capitol Tuesday to talk about the New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credit program.  Preservation League of New York State President Jay DiLorenzo says the program has had an impact from Buffalo to Long Island and is threatened by recent changes in federal tax policy and the anticipated sunset of the program at the end of 2019.   "What those two things have done is that they've injected uncertainty into the development process and threatened projects that are already in the pipeline."

DiLorenzo says those projects, worth a total of $6 billion, depend on rehabilitation credits, and without them would have difficulty moving forward.   "...we have Senate Bill 7648 and Assembly bill 9882 that do just what needs to be done, and that's they extend this New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credit program for five years and they decouple it from the federal program."

Advocates say extension in the 2018 budget will ensure that projects continue to move forward with investor and developer confidence that the program will remain in place.

Bill sponsor Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, a Democrat from Round Lake, represents Saratoga and Washington counties. She dubs Saratoga Springs "the city that preservation built."   "There are so many projects in Saratoga Springs that would not have happened if there were not both federal and state credits... You may have stopped in to see the rehabilitation of the Adelphi. This was a $30 million rehab project that saved the last great hotel in Saratoga Springs, and that project would not have happened but for the state tax credits."

Albany area Assembly Democrats Pat Fahy and John McDonald echoed Woerner's remarks. 

"Right down the street from here we have the Renaissance Hotel which had been known as the DeWitt Clinton hotel for many many, years. An extraordinary renovation that was done there just a couple of years ago," said Fahy.

McDonald shared his views: "When I think about just my district alone, Watervliet, the Tilley Lofts, in Troy, the Red Bird building. The Harmony Mills lofts. Here in the Albany the Warehouse District. Easily you can count one and half million square feet of basically forgotten properties that have been reclaimed and rebirthed."

According to the League, Historic Tax Credit projects – both federal and state – in 2016 generated $45.6 million in New York State taxes, along with $53.9 million in local taxes and $142.9 million in federal taxes, more than any other state in the country. Democratic Onondoga County Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli says the credits have helped leverage more than $3 billion in statewide commercial investments.   “…and since 2016, projects funded with Historic Preservation Tax Credits have created 13,000 jobs. This is real economic impact.”

McDonald says lawmakers are hard at work in a bipartisan effort to save the tax credits.  "This, by far, is one of the most important economic development tools that benefits the taxpayers."