Bill Would Suspend Tax Credit for Historic Building Renovations
By Adrianna Iwasinski, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY – Lawmakers still have a lot left on their plate this week, the last of the 2010 legislative session.
Completing the budget is the top priority, but a variety of other legislation also awaits action. They include a workers' compensation bill that calls for sweeping changes to how Oklahomans are compensated when hurt on the job. The House and Senate must also set spending limits for dozens of state agencies and lawmakers are expected to consider suspending tax credits to help balance the budget.
And one of those measures to cut tax credits is creating an uproar. Senate Bill 1267 would suspend the 20 percent state tax credit for renovating historic buildings for two years.
Developers say the credit is a major incentive to come to Oklahoma to help breathe new life into the state's old, historic buildings.
Now, it's all up to Governor Henry on whether he'll veto this moratorium or sign it. But it is part of a major portion of the Budget - $100 million worth - and the state House and Senate have already passed it. But those involved with historic preservation and revitalization say it will cost the state millions of dollars more than it will save.
The Sieber near 13th Street and Hudson Avenue in downtown Oklahoma City used to be an old, dilapidated eyesore.
The Sieber sat vacant for about a decade. It was full of trash and stray cats. There had been fires in many of the units.
Not anymore. It has been beautifully restored into a sought after luxury apartment complex. It is one of the many historic buildings across the state that has been transformed thanks to the state's tax credit incentive.
Another well-known example is the Skirvin Hotel.
"These tax credits are things that create more income, create more revitalization, more business, more economic growth and they haven't really looked at the full picture of that," Executive Director of Preservation Oklahoma Katie Friddle said.
Friddle and other preservationists say if the tax credits go away, so will a number of multimillion dollar projects currently in the works.
"We are very, very concerned there are dozens of projects across the state that are underway," Friddle said. "Preservation projects, revitalizing their communities that are going to have the rug pulled out from under them."
Real Estate Broker Gary Gregory of Sperry Van Ness Gregory Interests agrees. He represents a number of investors and developers and is also concerned about the long term impact.
"We are going to have investors that are not going to be spending money here," said Gregory. "We are going to be losing those to other states that surround us that do offer this tax credit."
Calls to the offices of Governor Henry, Senate Pro Tem Glen Coffee and Speaker of the House Chris Benge on whether the suspended tax credit is a done deal were not immediately returned.