Archived Story

Restore a house, get credit

Published 8:49pm Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Any owner of property in a historic district knows that exterior renovations can be a little bit tricky — and a lot expensive. But those in the market for rehabbing a historic house or building can get financial help at the state and federal level.

On Oct. 15, a seminar sponsored by the City of Washington’s planning office will be held at the Washington Civic Center. The focus is the Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program, a program started in the 1970s to give incentive to historic property owners to restore rather than rebuild. North Carolina State Historic Preservation Commission staff will be on hand to explain the commercial and residential tax credits available for restoration projects within the city’s historic districts — tax credits that Jennifer Brennan, Washington’s community development planner, says are an underutilized source of funding.

“We don’t have a lot of projects in Washington that have taken advantage of it,” Brennan said. “We’d like to see more. … I see a lot of projects that could definitely benefit from it if people knew more about it.”

Brennan used a commercial project as an example. The property’s owner would receive a tax credit of 20 percent of the restoration project’s worth: for a $100,000 project, the owner would receive a $20,000 credit from both federal and state governments.

For residential properties, the state offers a 30 percent credit; the federal government, 20 percent.

“The unfortunate part of the program is that it’s not giving you cash up front, but it gives it to you on the back end in tax refunds,” Brennan said.

She explained the tax credits can be carried forward for several years — on the federal side, a participant has 20 years to use the tax credits.

Two historical districts define Washington: the Washington Historic District that spans the area from the Pamlico-Tar River to the south and Fourth Street to north, then from Hackney Avenue to the west and the old National Guard Armory to the east.  The North Market Street Historic District runs the length of North Market Street and spans a jagged line of two blocks on either side from Fifth to 15th streets.

Brennan said her role with the State Historic Preservation Commission in West Virginia acquainted her with the program and how beneficial it can be to historic districts.

“I’ve really seen that it can do good things for a downtown,” Brennan said. “It’s really done a great job of spurring interest in restoring historic buildings which has further helped restore and preserve downtowns. … It’s a slow process, but in the whole scheme of things, the tax credits are invaluable to helping downtown districts get back up on their feet.”

The free information session for the Rehabilitation Tax Credits Program will be held in the conference room off the Civic Center Gallery area at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 15. No registration is required. For more information, call Jennifer Brennan at 252-946-0897.


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