Michigan Legislature Could Usher in New Era of Investment by Restoring State Historic Tax Credit

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Written by Nancy Finegood, executive director, Michigan Historic Preservation Network

Seven years ago Michigan lost its historic tax credit—one of its most vital and valuable tools in preserving historic buildings—that, in its 12-year lifespan, brought billions of dollars in economic impact to our state.

We’re working on bringing it back—and we need your help to do it.

We’ve already jumped one major hurdle when the State Senate overwhelmingly approved the reinstatement of the state historic tax credit by a 36-2 vote this past December. We are now moving on to the House, where we expect the legislation to be taken up in the House Tax Policy Committee in mid-March or early April. We are asking developers, preservationists, municipal leaders and other supporters to join our coalition and to tell their legislators to support Senate Bill 469 and House Bill 5178.

The historic tax credit, which was a crucial part of restoration projects everywhere from Detroit to Menominee, was phased out along with other tax credits in 2011—all victims of the State’s ongoing budget crisis. Michigan is now one of only 15 states that does not offer tax credits to help save historic properties. The federal credit can be used only for income producing properties, not residential properties, so the state tax credit is crucial in helping save the many irreplaceable homes that dot our state.

This puts Michigan at a severe disadvantage when it comes to attracting development, investment, jobs and residents. And, Michigan developers are taking their business to nearby states that have historic tax credits to develop projects.

The value and importance of restoring this tax credit cannot be understated. Between 2001 and 2005, Michigan’s historic tax credit helped spur more than $902 million in private investment, generating a total economic impact of more than $1.93 billion across our state and creating more than 22,000 jobs. That’s nearly $2 billion invested in just five years. During that same four-year period, for every $1 of credit issued, Michigan’s economy benefited from an additional $11.43 in economic impact.

Smaller communities across our state stand to gain the most from this credit. Though we have seen successful rehabs in some of Michigan’s larger cities in recent years, many of our smaller communities have not. Because smaller communities often have a harder time attracting the same level of investment or financing, the tax credit can be the difference-maker between whether projects happen or not.

Please stand with us as we push to return Michigan’s historic tax credit and save our many architectural treasures for future generations while bringing more investment and economic prosperity to our state. Visit www.miimpact.org or www.mhpn.org for more information!