Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Reinvest New York!

The Landmark Society is part of a statewide coalition advocating for the creation of a viable New York State tax-credit program to stimulate the rehabilitation of historic buildings in our communities. The state's first-ever rehab credit was enacted in late 2006, but unfortunately has proven to have several limitations that make it ineffective. Our coalition, led by the tireless efforts of the Preservation League of New York State, continues to work for this credit, which we strongly believe offers the best hope for helping our communities see true revitalization, even in difficult economic times, and a necessary investment in our future.

The following is a public policy update by Daniel Mackay, Director of Public Policy at the Preservation League of New York State.

-Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Director of Preservation Services

Reinvest New York!

A public policy update reporting on efforts to pass an expanded New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credit

Revenue, spending and stimulus issues are dominating deliberations in the Governor’s Office and Legislature in New York State these past months, and hopes and timeline for an early budget agreement have passed. The next date to hit – or miss – is April 10th, on the eve of a legislative recess and religious holidays, as well as 2009 first quarter revenue reports. New York State is currently facing a $15 billion dollar revenue gap, and there are forecasts for that gap widening further. Staffing changes in the Governor’s Office and the change in majority party in the New York State Senate have made for interesting politics in Albany in 2009.

In the midst of New York’s political and budgetary remaking, a new partnership has formed to secure budget inclusion of expanded rehabilitation stimulus program legislation. Reinvest New York is a partnership among a wide range of economic development groups, developers, financial institutions, architects and other organizations that supports expansion of the New York State Rehabilitation tax credit programs for historic commercial properties as well as owner-occupied residential housing. The New York State Senate and Assembly have responded to Reinvest NY by introducing a new preservation stimulus bill that will expand New York’s 2006 rehabilitation tax credit program to make it a far more effective economic and community redevelopment tool.

Details follow, and we’d welcome your involvement – both advocacy and financial support -- in efforts to secure this rehabilitation stimulus program in New York State.

S.2960 (Valesky)/A.6471 (Hoyt)

Senator David Valesky (D-Syracuse) and Assemblymember Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo) have introduced legislation that expands the New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credit program to provide economic stimulus and community revitalization to distressed communities throughout the state. The legislation will direct rehabilitation stimulus to distressed areas, increase the rate of rehabilitation credit available in New York, and increase the size of the per-project cap. See below for a comparison of the existing and proposed expanded NYS programs:

Existing Commercial Program:

6% credit rate (30% of federal credit value)

$100,000 per project cap

No transferability (can only be taken by party claiming the federal credit)

Available statewide

Proposed Commercial Program:

20% credit rate (100% of federal credit value)

$5 million per project cap

Credit transferability within business partnerships

Limited to distressed areas, defined as census tracts at or below 100% State Median Family Income and Targeted Area Residences

Implementation date of 1/1/2010

Program sunset of 1/1/2014

Bill language and bill memo are available here. The legislation makes additional changes to the residential (owner-occupied) rehabilitation program as well.

Supporters feel the proposed new program will deliver an effective credit rate and stimulus to appropriately targeted municipalities and census tracts, striking a balance between program cost concerns and delivering meaningful incentives and stimulus to downtowns, main streets and older residential neighborhoods across New York State.

Meetings to secure support for this program have been on-going with Governor Paterson’s office, Empire State Development Corporation, other state agencies, and Senate and Assembly members – we would welcome your participation in this advocacy – see below for contact information for Reinvest NY.

Economic Benefits Study – Underwriting Needed

The Reinvest NY Partnership is seeking to raise $40,000 to fund an economic impacts analysis of the proposed legislation, in order to project the economic stimulus and fiscal costs of the proposed legislation. We have been discussing this study with several firms and are seeking to green light this project as soon as possible to inform our advocacy with the Governors Office and NYS Legislature. We’ve been promoting the economic and revenue impacts of programs in Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia, Missouri and elsewhere, but feel we will gain more traction with a NYS-specific study of the proposed legislation.

At this time, we are seeking pledges of $2500 - $10,000 toward the cost of this study, and will not request your pledge until the full amount is raised. Please contact Daniel Mackay at or 518-462-5658 x18 to discuss a potential pledge – your support will be much appreciated.

Upcoming Advocacy

Our best hope for securing this program in 2009 is to see the program language in S.2960/A.6471 included in the enacted 2009-2010 New York State Budget. The timeline for budget action is early April, and we are seeking commitments from both the NYS Senate and Assembly to advocate for the program during budget negotiations.

If your firm has business or clients in New York State, we ask that you join the Reinvest NY partnership and our advocacy efforts. Further details, and sample outreach letters to Senate and Assembly leadership, will be posted shortly for your use.

We are also looking to identify potential rehabilitation projects around New York State that will showcase the need for this program. Please let us know if you have a rehabilitation project that needs an enhanced rehabilitation tax credit program to proceed toward construction.

Rehabilitation Stimulus Summit, Syracuse New York

Earlier this year, a wide range of businesses and organizations convened at National Grid headquarters in Syracuse New York to support enactment of an effective rehabilitation stimulus program for New York State. The meeting launched the Reinvest New York partnership and reached agreement on bill components and the need for a diverse statewide partnership to advocate for legislative and gubernatorial approval of this much-needed program.

In 2008, the NYS Legislature passed legislation to expand the rehabilitation tax credit program, but that bill was eventually vetoed by Governor Paterson, citing, among other concerns, the need for such a program to be included in budget discussions, not passed as a standalone bill.

Sponsors of the Rehabilitation Stimulus Summit included:
NYS Urban Council
Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and Central New York
National Grid
Cannon Heyman & Weiss, LLP
American Institute of Architects – NYS
Clinton Brown Company - Architecture/Rebuild
Preservation League of NYS


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