Getting rid of federal historic tax credit could hurt Cleveland

Downtown Heinen's, received a Federal Historic Tax Credit
Downtown Heinen's, received a Federal Historic Tax Credit
Map of Federal Historic Tax Credit projects in downtown Cleveland, courtesy Downtown Cleveland Alliance
Map of Federal Historic Tax Credit projects in downtown Cleveland, courtesy Downtown Cleveland Alliance

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The future of Cleveland's revitalization could be in jeopardy if the Federal Historic Tax Credit is eliminated, experts tell Cleveland 19.

The tax credit is eliminated in the tax reform bill announced by Republicans in the US House of Representatives Thursday.

"It would be devastating, and not just to Cleveland but really urban America, and if you follow economic growth it's predominantly happening in urban America," the Executive Vice President of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance Tom Yablonsky said.

According to the state, on average, each Federal Historic Tax Credit project creates 78 construction jobs and 93 permanent jobs.

More than 100 projects in downtown Cleveland have received a Federal Historic Tax Credit, according to the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

Just within the past ten years, in all of Cleveland, 128 projects including Mitchell's Ice Cream (formerly the Rialto Theatre), Playhouse Square, The West 25th Street Lofts (Baehr Brewing Company), and the Hanna Building, have all received a Federal Historic Tax Credit.

The tax credit is a 20 percent credit from the federal government, that only applies to qualified buildings more than 50 years old that are restored within specific guidelines.

The credit was introduced during the Reagan administration, and this is the first time it's ever been threatened with elimination.

"It's really the underpinning of the resurgence of downtown," Yablonsky said. He said that the revitalization of Cleveland's downtown is due in large part to the Federal Historic Tax Credit, saying that the projects wouldn't have been able to secure financing without the credit.

"It affects the whole economy of the city, number one, and as I've started off saying, it's rejuvenating the city not just downtown, but the booming areas of the city, all relate to this issue, Ohio City, it's critical, Tremont, it's critical, Detroit Shoreway, Gordon Square, University Circle," Yablonsky said.

And it is critical not just for the city's past, but also for the city's future.

A bipartisan group of Ohio US representatives sent a letter to House leadership, urging them to keep the tax credit intact.

Three of the representatives who sent the letter, Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and David P. Joyce (R-OH) represent areas of Northeast Ohio.

Since the tax reform bill, the only one of those representatives who said she plans to vote against the bill that would eliminate the tax credit is Kaptur.

Staff for Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) was not on that initial letter, but issued this statement about the tax credit. "The Congresswoman supports the Federal Historical Tax Credit. She is a cosponsor of H.R. 1158, the Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act which would strengthen the Historic Tax Credit and make more historic properties eligible. This bill would help revitalize communities and stimulate economic growth in the 11th District and across the state of Ohio."

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