Iowa Bill To Expand Historic Restoration Tax Credits
Preserving and restoring historic buildings is happening all over the Quad Cities area. Legislation in Iowa would give some extra incentive to do that by expanding available tax credits.
One Muscatine home near downtown is an example of where historic tax credits were used to renovate in the last several years. The 1854 building was a candidate for demolition at one point. Instead, it was restored to its former glory. The new owners even plan to open it as a new bed and breakfast.
The Friends of Muscatine Historic Preservation have several other buildings they'd like to see share that fate, including the old jail building as well as the historic Jefferson School. The legislation, Senate File 426, could give those projects a better chance. It calls to expand the historic preservation tax credit program from $45 million to $60 million.
Because restoring an old building costs substantially more than building new, tax credits can be critical. Many think that having more money in the pool could encourage development.
"This is an opportunity to infuse new interest and stabilize neighborhoods, preserve property values and make the neighborhoods we all like to have," said Steve Boka, Muscatine Community Development Director.
"It really does help neighborhoods. Since I did my project, there have been three other projects in my neighborhood that have helped utilize tax credits to restore their homes," said Dr. Michael Maharry, President of the Friends of Muscatine Historic Preservation.
One project that Maharry says is ready to go and could directly benefit from expanding the program is the Muscatine County Courthouse. Some lawmakers hope that if the bill is approved it could also mean construction jobs and more private investment. The bill passed through the Iowa Senate last week with no opposition. The expanded tax credits would be for the upcoming fiscal year and up to fiscal year 2016.