Tax credit to help historic preservation sadly falls thanks to Republicans

09/01/2014 12:00 AM

09/02/2014 4:08 AM

North Carolina’s historic preservation tax credit has been a valuable asset to the state, enticing developers and residents to restore historic old buildings and homes to the tune of $1.5 billion in investment since 1998. It’s estimated to have contributed more than $124 million annually to the state’s gross domestic product. Some 2,200 jobs a year are created thanks to the incentive as well.

These properties – such as the American Tobacco Campus in Durham – can be prohibitively expensive to restore and might otherwise simply fall down.

Republicans in the state Senate, focused on tax reform that helps only the wealthy and business, just don’t like the idea of giving tax breaks to certain other groups. So with their blinders on, they’re doing away with the tax credit for historic preservation.

It is utter foolishness that will result in lots of historic properties disappearing forever.

What if that had been allowed to happen at the old American Tobacco site? Thanks to a large investment from Capitol Broadcasting’s Jim Goodmon of Raleigh, it became a mix of offices, retail, restaurants and residences that today is the face of the Bull City.

Myrick Howard lives there. He’s president of Preservation North Carolina, a group that is a major advocate of the tax incentive program.

American Tobacco of today, he said, “has changed Durham’s self-image.” He’s right.

The Oakwood neighborhood in Raleigh, rundown not that many years ago, now has spectacularly refurbished Victorian homes. The Loray Cotton Mill in Gastonia, in the state’s foothills, is opening this fall with a mixture of commercial and residential space, something that would have been unthinkable years ago and without the tax incentive.

Says Howard of the incentive program: “This has helped the quality of life in so many cities and towns across North Carolina.”

How does hard-core ideology help that quality of life?

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