Developers, Preservationists Urge Federal Gov to Protect Historic Tax Credits

Nov 7, 2017

Developers, historic preservationists and city council members are crying foul on House Republicans' proposed federal tax plan that includes eliminating the Historic Tax Credit.

The federal program provides a 20 percent tax credit that’s paid out to developers over a five-year period, after the redevelopment of a historic building.

Landmarks Illinois CEO and President Bonnie McDonald joined developers in Peoria Tues. to defend the Historic Tax Credits program. The federal incentive would be eliminated under the House GOP's proposed tax reform bill.
Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Landmarks Illinois, the Downtown Development Corporation and Keep Peoria Beautiful hosted a press conference Tues. at Cooperage 214 to advocate for the tax incentive. 

Landmarks Illinois President Bonnie McDonald says the historic tax credit translates to more money for the federal government.

“A project like this takes a very underutilized property and now makes it a property-tax generator, which it wasn’t before," McDonald said. "And all of that happens because of the private investment that is catalyzed by this credit, which pays for itself."

Cooperage 214 is a luxury apartment complex and office space in the Warehouse District. Historically, it was where whiskey barrels were made for the nearby distilleries that once populated the area. 

The Historic Tax Credit program started in 1976 and was made permanent by the Reagan administration to encourage preserving and investing in historic buildings.  

Downtown Development Corporation President Michael Freilinger, a Republican, says he was surprised to learn about the proposed rollback of the incentive.

“Because it has been a bipartisan, non-controversial program for such a long time. The benefits that are generated are huge," Freilinger said. 

In addition to preserving historic buildings, Freilinger says,  the incentive also generates construction jobs and sales in building materials.

Landmarks Illinois says the federal Historic Tax Credit was part of a financing package for 269 projects in Illinois that generated more than 45,000 jobs. 

McDonald says for every $1 the federal government allocates for the credits, $1.25 is generated for the general fund.