State House committee backs historic-rehabilitation credit

Jun. 11, 2014 @ 06:55 PM

An N.C. House committee on Wednesday voted in favor of continuing a state tax credit that’s helped finance the renovation of historic buildings like Durham’s American Tobacco complex.
The voice vote came in the House Appropriations Committee and added the historic-rehabilitation credit to the House version of the fiscal 2014-15 state budget.
The credit was due to expire at the end of the year. The N.C. Senate’s draft budget, passed in that chamber on May 31, did not include an extension.
Despite Wednesday’s vote, “our work isn’t done,” said Julie White, executive director of the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, one of the group’s that’s lobbied for an extension. “The budget has a long way to go yet.”
To become law, the provision has to survive an upcoming House floor vote and a House-Senate conference to reconcile the chambers’ differing budget drafts.
Gov. Pat McCrory earlier this spring joined the Metro Mayors and groups like Preservation North Carolina in calling for an extension.
The governor proposed reducing what for years has been a credit toward 25 percent of the cost of renovating old buildings for commercial use, in return for giving developers a shorter payback period.
The language endorsed by the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday mirrored the governor’s proposal, which would extend the program for another six years, Preservation North Carolina Executive Director Myrick Howard said.
White relayed word of the Appropriations Committee’s decision Wednesday via Twitter and text message.
She made a point of thanking House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, and Appropriations Senior Chairman Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, “for allowing” the committee to vote on the necessary amendment.
Rep. Dean Arp, R-Union, sponsored the amendment. Reps. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, John Torbett, R-Gaston, and Joe Sam Queen, D-Haywood, spoke in favor of it. Moore said the measure would help both urban and rural portions of North Carolina, making it a “win-win” for the state.
Howard said advocates of the tax credit have made a point of trying to build a big-tent coalition that includes real-estate professionals, general contractors, architects and local elected officials.
They also stressed that the credit contributed to “almost $700 million” in private investment in historic properties in the last six years, Howard said.
“Preservation has always been bipartisan in its support, and it looks like we have another vote that indicates that,” he added. “From 1998 to 2012, there were six votes regarding our tax credits. We had a grand total of one dissenting vote. And that person is no longer in the General Assembly.”