The NJ Senate Committee on Economic Growth sent two bills forward to the Budget Committee today as part of the legislature’s efforts to move programs that will stimulate growth and development in an economy deeply shaken by recession and Wall Street “meltdown.”
Bills that broaden local authority to create revenue allocation districts, a form of tax increment financing, and expand the Urban Transit Hub tax credit program were characterized in testimony at the Committee hearing this morning as critical to efforts by Newark and several other cities to attract large scale new investment in rehabilitation or new construction.
What hasn’t yet been recognized is the potential for still more economic stimulus with enactment of a historic rehabilitation tax credit, as has been advocated by the NJ Heritage Development Coalition.
In written testimony submitted to the Committee by Coalition member Preservation New Jersey, legislators were reminded that neighborhoods and Main Streets in our city and town centers have declined often because rehabilitation costs did not make the existing buildings that give them character attractive to development. But sustainable development must happen in existing communities, where the vast majority of the thousands of historic buildings exist in New Jersey and where many thousands of heritage visitors spend their millions of tourism dollars every year.
Reinvesting in these areas and spurring development will make a significant impact on their future economic health and vitality. And burgeoning landfills argue for reuse rather than demolition of existing buildings and their embodied energy for more stable, livable and greener communities.