Stating that it was part of politics in Trenton as usual, the governor vetoed the just-passed historic tax credit bill today.  More information, including we hope a stated reason for its veto, as details become available.

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Momentum continues to build for HPRA, the proposed New Jersey state historic rehabilitation tax credit recently passed by the NJ Assembly (see previous post).  Sen. Barbara Buono, our prime sponsor in the Senate, has successfully gotten the bill – S659 – posted on the first relevant Senate committee’s agenda.

State Government, Tourism, Gaming & Historic Preservation Committee
Thurs., Dec. 9, 1:00 p.m.
Statehouse Annex, Committee Room 6, 1st floor (NB:  room assignments are subject to last minute changes)

Three of the five committee members are already co-sponsors (Sens. Shirley Turner (D-Trenton), Robert Gordon (D-Fair Lawn) and Anthony Bucco (R-Boonton).  Please consider making phone calls to chairman Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic City) and Sen. Thomas Goodwin (R-Hamilton Twsp.) to urge their affirmative vote.  Examples of potential projects that would benefit from the tax credit, and the jobs and economic activity that they would generate, continue to be powerful persuaders.  Personal testimony at the hearing, or letters of support addressed to the Committee chair, Sen. Whalen, are also needed.

Be aware that, again this year, the fiscal statement (the OLS estimate of what the proposed program would “cost”) is both negative and incorrect.  OLS refuses to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence from studies in many of the 31 states that already have tax credit programs showing as much as 8:1 return on investment to state treasuries.

You can find accurate fiscal impact information, detailed description of HPRA, links to the bills, reports on economic impacts as measured in 31 states having a similar credit, links to sponsors’ web pages, etc. at
http://www.preservationnj.org/site/ExpEng/index.php?/PNJSite/hpi_act

Please let us know of any feedback/response to calls or other outreach.

Meanwhile, we’re looking for an op-ed in the Star Ledger soon from National Trust President Stephanie Meek.

We’ll be blogging status updates right here.

Guest author:  William Hoffman, Esq., CityScape Capital Group

Don’t let your historic property vanish into history! Industry professionals will explore creative financing options and tax incentives for financing your project, as well as give insight on the current historic preservation marketplace at the “Making Cents of Historic Preservation” conference on October 19th at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

– Speakers will highlight the current climate for historic preservation
– Hear the latest tips on financing options and tax incentives for historic preservation
– Topics: Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits, Easements, New Market & Renewable Energy Tax Credits
– Insider updates on the industry, State Historic Tax Credit legislation and more.
– Network with multi-state professionals

This conference will provide immediately useful information for project owners, developers, lenders and preservation professionals, including historic site managers, attorneys, architects, consultants and accountants dealing with preservation projects and related investments.  NJ CLE application pending and AIA members may earn Learning Units by submitting a self-report.

Please send email to Beth Beatty (Beth@PreservationEasement.org) or call 609-524-4044 for additional information. Your $50 registration fee (students $20) includes all conference workshops and lunch. Fax completed registration forms to 856-795-9722; you may pay by check/cash at the door.

Today the New Jersey Assembly’s Environment & Solid Waste Committee voted favorably for the Historic Property Revitalization Act (HPRA), bill A1851.  Committee Vice Chair and bill Prime Sponsor Asm. Reed Gusciora (Mercer) spoke eloquently about the value of the proposed economic incentive not only for preserving and rehabilitating valued historic resources, but also for its proven track record as an economic stimulus and jobs creator.   Testimony, both written and in person before the Committee,  was presented from a number of members of the NJ Heritage Development Coalition, including Michael Calafati representing AIA-NJ; Maia Farish, Vice Chair of the NJ Historic Trust; Ron Emrich from Preservation New Jersey and Emily Wadhams, Vice-President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Real estate developers, homeowners, contractors and architects also offered support and insight into the importance of the proposed tax credit as a jobs creating opportunity vital to New Jersey’s economic recovery.

The bill now awaits action by the Assembly Appropriations Committee (chair:  Asw. Nellie Pou, Passaic, (973) 247-1555) before being considered by the full Assembly.  The Senate has not yet taken up the bill as Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee chair  Sen. Jim Whelan (Atlantic –(609)383-1388) has yet to schedule a hearing.

For more information on the proposed New Jersey historic rehab tax credit and how to Take Action, go to the PNJ website.

Our colleague Bonnie McDonald, ED of the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, guest blogs for the National Trust this week on how they worked with a strong group of partners to successfully gain passage early this year of what is the nation’s 31st state historic rehabilitation tax credit bill.

Bonnie writes “In 2009, we aligned ourselves with the Building Jobs Coalition, an advocacy partnership with representatives from the industries of organized labor, general contracting, architecture and engineering, real estate development, and local government economic development. The coalition worked closely with lead legislators to craft a construction job creation bill that included a diverse array of incentives. We were able to demonstrate through numbers compiled by Donovan Rypkema that historic preservation would create well-paying construction jobs – more jobs, in fact, than new construction. ”

Read more about how they did it, and Minnesota’s Top 10 Hail Mary Tax Credit Advocacy Tips.

Revitalizing cities and town centers by attracting development investment through a historic tax credit will create jobs and support smart development principles.

The New Jersey State Planning Commission has released its Impact Assessment of the proposed State Plan, and its findings give us another strong argument for a state historic preservation tax credit.  The Impact Assessment quantifies the savings, in both land and money, that the state would likely see by managing future growth according to the “existing centers-based” strategies of the State Plan.  It shows that revitalizing existing communities means significant reductions in road building, water and sewer and other infrastructure and municipal services costs.

The New Jersey State Planning Act requires the State Planning Commission to revise and re-adopt the State Development and Redevelopment Plan every three years (although it’s now six years overdue!). The act further requires that an Impact Assessment be prepared prior to each revision and re-adoption.  The 60,000 acres of land saved by adhering to the State Plan, according the just-published Assessment, would include 17,000 acres of agricultural land.   At the recent rate of 15,000 acres of new development per year, the total savings translate to a 20 percent reduction in land consumption over the next 20 years.  Now that’s Smart Growth!

Also conforming to the NJ Heritage Development Coalition’s positions on job creation, the report estimates that a State Plan-influenced, existing communities development scenario would increase jobs by at least 10 percent in urban and inner-suburban communities that are presently suffering a variety of problems stemming from growth policies that favor greenfield development over redevelopment.

As NJ Future has reminded us this week: “Governor Christie is on record in support of a strengthened state planning process, pledging to improve interagency coordination, discourage suburban sprawl and provide incentives for redevelopment and urban revitalization.”  And he’s also on record as supporting a state historic rehab tax credit as one of those powerful revitalization incentives.

Interesting times.

We spent a couple of very informative hours yesterday on a national conference call, hearing updates from several of the states that have (1) recently enacted new historic tax credit legislation, (2) fended off legislative and/or executive attacks on existing, always very effective, tax credit programs, or (3) expanded exsiting tax credit programs, even in the current dreadful economic climate.

Ohio and Arkansas recently established new historic tax credits programs, and the advocates –  statewide nonprofit heritage preservation organizations, chambers of commerce, developers, neighborhood and Main Street groups and affordable housing providers  – organized effective lobbying campaigns with similar themes.  Jobs creation and new economic activity were, in every state, the key to gaining political support for tax credit programs.  New York State’s recent expansion and improvement of their credit (see previous blog posts) occurred thanks to the Preservation League of NY State’s efforts to map the communities where development/rehabilitation projects would occur (National Register listed or eligible places in mostly distressed census tracts).

A major loft project in the bio-technology corridor in St. Louis, MO that used state and federal tax credits

Michigan has seen an improved and expanded tax credit program, thanks to the Michigan Historic Preservation Network’s “Economic Benefit Report Cards” that have demonstrated the job creation and economic expansion that has been a direct result of tax credit-driven projects across that high-unemployment state.

Strong and broad coalitions in Rhode Island, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and many other states helped to push legislation through that created, defended or expanded tax credit programs.  Active and involved leadership from smart growth groups, sustainability and environmental advocacy organizations, labor and real estate development entities and economic development interests was key to the effective results in each state.

New Jersey has a lot to learn, but many mentors to emulate!  It’s time for a “Heritage Development & Stimulus Summit,” with our partners in NJ and from nearby states with interests in development in our state coming together with opinion and policy leaders and makers to see a historic tax credit passed in 2010. With a Governor-elect on public record as being in favor of a historic tax credit, there is no better time than now!

Contact the NJ Heritage Development Coalition to be a part of a tax credit summit:  info@NJheritagedevelopment.org.