...by Warren Kirshenbaum
Just a few years after eliminating a state historic preservation tax credit, Rhode Island lawmakers are considering reviving it as an economic development tool.
Reinstituting the incentive to rehabilitate abandoned mills and empty warehouses would create work for construction companies and trade workers while protecting the state's historic character.
"It will mean jobs for architects, engineers, craftsmen," said Martha Werenfels, a Providence architect who has worked on several historic preservation projects. "Right now projects are not moving forward. They're going to Connecticut and they're going to Massachusetts because there are tax credits available."
The proposal would award tax credits equaling up to 25 percent of the cost of rehabilitating historic buildings for commercial use.
Lawmakers voted to stop giving new credits to commercial preservation projects in 2008. The program cost taxpayers $300 million since it was enacted a decade ago, but supported 237 projects worth more than $1.2 billion, according to the state's Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission.
Local government officials support the tax credit as a way to spur redevelopment in the state's many old mills and commercial buildings. Supporters noted that several companies have turned vacant warehouses and mills into modern corporate headquarters. East Providence Planning Director Jeanne Boyle cited the multimillion-dollar redevelopment of a former industrial site in her city as proof the tax credit works.
"Without the historic tax credit that project never would have happened," she said.
Original article by By David Klepper – Boston.com