Burlington Station in Omaha before and after renovation.
Tax credits for historic preservation projects are producing big pay-offs. A new economic impact study finds the Nebraska Historic Tax Credit (NHTC) generated some $79M in economic activity and 1,033 jobs in 2015, its inaugural year. The Nebraska State Historical Society administers the program and asked the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to assess the first projects to use the tax credits created by the Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitalization Act. Commercial and residential rehabilitation projects completed in Omaha, Boys Town, and Norfolk offer compelling evidence that preservation pays. Thirteen of the 46 projects allocated credits are now completed and are the basis for the analysis. Additional key findings include $35.07M in wages for Nebraska workers and $45.26M added to the state’s gross state product. And even though the projects involved income tax credits, they leveraged $3.22 million in state and local taxes. Rehabilitation of the award-winning Burlington Station in Omaha is the biggest and most visible project. [Read more below] But important smaller scale efforts are helping convert long-vacant properties into low income and other housing, banking, and commercial and retail spaces. Projects in Red Cloud, Norfolk, Fairbury, Friend, Lincoln, Hastings, Chadron, Grand Island and Pender have projects already completed or in progress. The NHTC offers incentives for the redevelopment of historic properties and districts in Nebraska, and encourages private investment in historic buildings and neighborhoods. The program is intended to spur the rehabilitation of historic buildings throughout the state, which the study concludes, “is likely to promote both direct and indirect economic benefits to the state economy.” “The numbers provide strong evidence that the Nebraska Historic Tax Credit has already had a number of positive impacts on the Nebraska economy. The program is likely to continue to have significant impacts as developers continue to take advantage of tax credits in coming years.” -Eric Thompson, UNL Bureau of Business Research. Applications for potential tax credit projects are still being accepted by the Nebraska State Historical Society’s State Historic Preservation Office for 2016. The law authorizes a total of $15 million in credits for each calendar year through 2022. But more credits are still available. Another $15M in tax credits for calendar year 2017 will be allocated based on applications received by the Nebraska State Historical Society no earlier than January 3, 2017.
U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, Norfolk, NE.
About the Nebraska Historic Tax Credit The Nebraska Job Creation and Mainstreet Revitalization Act provides a 20 percent state tax credit (up to a limit of $1 million for a single project) for eligible expenditures made for rehabilitating qualified historic buildings and structures. The Nebraska Historic Tax Credits may be used against state income tax, insurance premium taxes and financial institution deposit taxes. Rehabilitation projects must equal or exceed $25,000 in total cost. For properties in metropolitan or primary class cities, the cost must exceed 25% of the property’s assessed value or $25,000, whichever is greater. To qualify, a historic property must be listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places, located within a district listed in the National Register of Historic Places, listed individually under a certified local preservation ordinance, or located within a historic district designated under a certified local preservation ordinance. Single-family detached residences do not qualify for the program, but projects can include commercial, multifamily and industrial uses for eligible buildings and structures. Project work must be executed to standards outlined in the Secretary of the Interior’s “Standards for Rehabilitation.” These standards are designed to preserve the historic building’s fabric and character, while still allowing for rehabilitation and new uses. The Nebraska State Historical Society’s State Historic Preservation Office administers the program in cooperation with the Nebraska Department of Revenue.
Weber Brothers Building, Chadron, NE
Howard Street Apartments, Omaha, NE