Federal historic tax credit put on National Trust’s watch list

Each year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation releases its list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

No Route 66 property made the 2014 list. However, what made the watch list should be of interest to Route 66ers — and all preservationists in general. Take note of the last item (you can skip ahead to 2:22 of the video):

The National Trust explained why the federal historic tax credit made the watch list:

The federal historic tax credit was created to attract private sector investment to the rehabilitation of America’s historic buildings. It offers developers a tax credit if a rehabilitation project retains the building’s historic character. The result is new life for the nation’s historic mills, warehouses, theaters and more—resources that would continue to sit vacant and dilapidated if not for the credit.

Since being signed into law by President Reagan, the federal historic tax credit has attracted $109 billion to the rehabilitation of nearly 40,000 historic commercial buildings in the U.S., creating 2.4 million jobs and sparking downtown revitalization nationwide. Now, there is a proposal in Congress to eliminate it in the context of tax reform, jeopardizing the potential reuse of historic buildings like these throughout the country.

The National Trust provided a link where people can write their senators about the issue.

One justification for a tax credit for rehabbing historic properties comes straight from the Route 66 Economic Impact Report:

Compared to new construction and such stimulus favorites as investing in highways, historic preservation — such as historic preservation of Route 66 properties — is a reasonably comparable, if not superior, economic pump primer.

As an example, the report said the per-dollar economic impact of commercial historic preservation in Oklahoma surpasses that of the insurance, highway construction, home construction, data processing, and meat-packing sectors.

Keeping the federal historic tax credit should be nonpartisan issue. Almost everyone wants to keep historic properties preserved, and the tax credit provides a boost to entrepreneurs who will use historic buildings for their businesses.

In a recent example, Allan Affeldt’s purchase of Hotel Castaneda (pictured above) in Las Vegas, New Mexico, probably wouldn’t have happened without historic tax credits. Instead, the long-closed but indisputably historically significant hotel would have continued to sit and decay, as it has for decades.

And any lawmaker ought to ask the residents of Winslow, Arizona, whether Affeldt’s saving of La Posada helped the economy of the town.

Go to the link from the National Trust to take action.

(Image of Hotel Castaneda by Aidan Wakely-Mulroney via Flickr)

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