The fact that historic preservation can be a tool for economic development is often overlooked. Historic preservation is not just about protecting and preserving historic landmarks. It is a vehicle for change. Whether it is through the Main Street program, the Historic Tax Credit, or Heritage Tourism, historic preservation has proven to be an effective tool for economic development.
Main Street Program
Main Street is simple in its concept and unmatched in success as an economic development tool. The National Main Street Center, a part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has for nearly 20 years been working with communities to build a strategy of downtown revitalization within the context of historic preservation. There simply is no more cost-effective economic development available. The 1,400 Main Street programs have seen investment over the past two decades of $8.6 billion- this, in many instances, in downtowns that had been written off as already dead. Every dollar that has been used for the support of a local Main Street program has resulted in $35 of other downtown investment.
Federal Preservation Tax Incentives
The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program–a 20% tax credit–began in 1976. Since that time, the National Park Service has administered the tax credits in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service and with State Historic Preservation Offices. To date, tens of thousands of rehabilitation projects have been approved, representing billions of dollars in private investment.
One of the federal government’s most successful and cost-effective community revitalization programs, the preservation tax incentives reward private investment in rehabilitating historic properties such as offices, rental housing and retail stores. Abandoned or under-used schools, warehouses, factories, churches, retail stores, apartments, hotels, houses, and offices in many cities have been restored to life in a manner that retains their historic character. Preservation tax incentives have also helped to create moderate- and low-income housing in historic buildings.
Preservation tax incentives are available for any qualified project that the Secretary of the Interior designates as a certified rehabilitation of a certified historic structure. A certified historic structure is any building that is listed individually in the National Register or located in a registered historic district and certified as historically significant to the district. A certified rehabilitation is any rehabilitation of a certified historic structure that is certified as being consistent with the historic character of the property and the district in which it is located.
Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit
The Maryland Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Program is administered by the Maryland Historical Trust and provides Maryland income tax credits based on a percentage of the qualified capital costs expended in the rehabilitation of a structure for the following types of projects:
- 20% credit for “certified historic structures” that are owner-occupied, single-family residences
- 20% credit for “certified historic structures” that are commercial buildings
- 25% credit for “certified historic structures” that are high-performance commercial buildings
10% credit for non-historic, “qualified rehabilitated structures” To [LLH1] be eligible for tax incentives for rehabilitation, a project must meet the basic tax requirements of the Internal Revenue Codes as well as the certification requirements. Applications are processed by the Maryland Historical Trust and then passed on with comments to the National Park Service for certification.
Maryland Heritage Areas
Maryland’s Heritage Areas are locally designated and state certified regions where public and private partners make commitments to preserving historical, cultural and natural resources for sustainable economic development through heritage tourism.
At the local level, Heritage Areas focus community attention on often under-appreciated aspects of history, living culture and distinctive natural areas, fostering pride in the places where Marylanders live and work. The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) does this through targeted state financial and technical assistance within areas designated as “Certified Heritage Areas.”
Each of Maryland’s 11 Certified Heritage Areas has a focus or theme that makes that place or region different from other areas in the state. These distinctive places exhibit evidence of the area’s heritage in historic buildings and districts, cultural traditions, natural landscapes, and other resources such as museums, parks and traditional ways of life as revealed in food, music and art. This character of each Heritage Area attracts those who are also looking for an authentic and unusual experience.
National Trust Community Investment Corporation
The National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC) has a referral program to help market its services and benefit the State and Local Partners of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The NTCIC is a for-profit subsidiary of the National Trust whose primary business is investing in rehabilitation projects that qualify for Federal and State historic tax credits and New Markets tax credits.
The referral program provides a finder's fee for every historic rehabilitation project referral it receives from the National Trust's Statewide and Local Partners that results in an actual equity investment. Preservation Maryland is a statewide partner, and may share up to 50% of the fee with other 501(c)(3) organizations that provide referrals.
By referring potential tax credit projects, you can help support Preservation Maryland and receive a share of a referral fee for your non-profit organization. If you are a developer and have a potential investment opportunity, please contact NTCIC and say you learned about this program through Preservation Maryland. For more information about this program, contact Doug Harbit at firstname.lastname@example.org.