October 20, 2012

Historic Preservation Tax Credit is Common Sense in Boston

For more than 30 years, historic preservation tax incentives have been helping architects, builders, and private citizens transform historic buildings, and adapting them toward new uses, preserving architectural heritage, and benefiting communities all over the country.

Boston is an American city rich in history and beautiful old buildings. These incentives have helped Boston and cities like it all over the country.

The recent debate over historic preservation tax incentives is long on political orthodoxy but short on common sense. The benefits of these tax credits are indisputable. By redeveloping historic buildings, tax credits save our architectural heritage and spur new private investment, create construction jobs, and set the stage for new economic activities, such as tourism. Moreover, as it cost far more to historically preserve a property, rather than build new, most if not all historical rehabilitation would be financially feasible without tax credits.

Any savvy investor will agree that the residual value of surrounding properties increases, and commercial activity gets a bump when abandoned buildings are brought back to life, or derelict properties are restored to their former grandeur.

But there’s much more. Many historic buildings serve as the visual gateway to entire towns and neighborhoods. They anchor their communities, and often had a central role in making them happen. Examples are everywhere - churches, town halls, first settler homesteads, factories, schools, mills, lighthouses, and office and institutional buildings.

Why does this matter? First, these landmarks are part of the fabric and collective memory of their communities.

Preservation can also be completed using renewable resources which us “green development.” For example, the conversion of the 1765 Baker Chocolate Factory in Dorchester into a community assisted living apartments,  used recycled tons of brick, granite block and many hundreds of massive wood beams and deck.

Proof of old and historic buildings' attraction and economic value is everywhere. And many of our friends and clients -- mayors, real estate developers, bankers, and residents -- will vouch that the same results never would have been accomplished without federal and state historic tax credits.

Our country’s history deserves better than a wrecking ball.If you believe in America’s past - and our chances for a better collective future, historical rehabilitation of important structures are an important means of preserving our past, and achieving that milestone will inevitably need historic tax credits. Accordingly, historic tax credits are something you can and must believe in.