Preservation tax credits can be boost to an area

Monday, November 12, 2001

Home and business owners in some areas of Cape Girardeau may be eligible for tax credits of 20, 25, even 35 percent to renovate historic properties.

"Tax credits can make a significant financial difference in an area," said Catherine Dunlap, director of Old Town Cape, which coordinates the Main Street program in Cape Girardeau. "We have some structures in downtown Cape Girardeau and the Haarig District which could qualify for some of the tax credits."

Dunlap was among the more than 30 people who turned out for state historic tax credit and neighborhood preservation tax credit workshops presented in Cape Girardeau recently by the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

"There appears to be a lot of interest in the programs," say Rosalie Chruma and Rena Spencer, who were among guest speakers at the workshops.

The Missouri Historic Preservation tax credit program authorizes state tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic properties in Missouri, said Chruma. To be counted as historic, buildings have to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The buildings may also qualify for neighborhood tax credits if they are in a distressed area, or are included as a contributing part of a historic district.

Cape Girardeau businessman Greg Williams is among property owners already taking advantage of a Neighborhood Preservation Project in downtown Cape Girardeau.

"I'm looking at five new condos," said Williams, who owns four buildings in the 100 block of Independence.

Besides a 35 percent tax credit, Williams is in line for another 10 percent tax credit later when he starts installing new fronts for the buildings.

There are a number of buildings in the 100 block of Main Street, which are already on the National Register of Historic Places. Owners of these building are eligible for a 25 percent state tax credit, and 20 percent federal tax credit.

Another downtown businessman, Dennis "Doc" Cain, owner of the Port Cape Restaurant more than a dozen years, has applied for historic recognition for his building, which was constructed around 1837.

"We have also applied for neighborhood tax credits for some future renovations," he said.

Some conditions

There are some stipulations: Renovation costs must exceed 50 percent of the purchase price of the building, and owners must submit their rehab plans before starting work. The plans have to be approved by state officials and meet federal historic preservation standards. "In other words, don't start rehab plans and then apply for the tax credits," said Dunlap.

Tax credits are not issued until after the renovation work is completed and certified by state historic preservation and Department of Economic Development officials.

The Missouri program, started in January 1998, may face funding cuts this year.

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden has asked the DED to cut $7.5 million from its tax credit programs. The DED is reviewing the proposed cuts.

"It takes a legislative action to change the program," said Anne Perry, a DED spokesperson. If that happens, the budget cuts would come from 35 tax credit programs, not just the Historic Preservation Tax Program.

rowen@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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