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Rehabilitation tax credit turning NY’s historic buildings into community assets


Over the last four years, the New York State and federal rehabilitation tax credit program has spurred $3 billion of investment in historic commercial properties. According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York State led the nation in the number of completed historic building revitalization projects using the tax credits.

In 2016, $748 million in investments was generated by the credits to revamp old buildings throughout the state.

In a news release, Cuomo said, “These numbers prove that this program is an effective economic development tool and we will continue our efforts to preserve this state’s historic properties and drive growth throughout the process.”

State officials announced the tax credit milestones Thursday at the 2017 New York Statewide Preservation Conference, held in Sibley Square. The Sibley building, located in downtown Rochester, is a $200 million revitalization project, and one of 88 commercial redevelopment projects in the Finger Lakes to leverage the credit since 2013.

“Here in the Sibley Building, 534 construction jobs are being created, and up to 450 permanent full time jobs will be created by the time the office, retail and restaurant space is up and running, said Mark Fitzstevens, manager of downtown development.

Both credits offer a 20 percent tax credit for qualified rehabilitation expenses for commercial property owners. Cuomo had previously signed legislation to improve the credit by enabling a property owner to partner with investors who do not have New York State tax liability and take the credit as a refund.

The ability to take a refund helped expand the pool of investors willing to participate in New York State projects. The legislation also extended the program through 2019, which helped remove uncertainty about the its future.

In 2016 alone, the State Historic Preservation Office approved $732 million commercial rehabilitation projects that are now in or moving into the construction phase.

Sasha-Ann Simons joined the team at WXXI News in 2015 as a Multimedia Reporter/Producer. She tells stories about the innovation economy and technology in upstate New York and also does general assignment reporting. Sasha-Ann is the host of Arts InFocus, WXXI-TV's weekly arts and culture program. She is also a fill-in host and regular contributor to Need To Know.