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Developers breathe sigh of relief that historic tax credits still viable

Michael Mroziak
Hotel Henry at the H.H. Richardson complex in Buffalo is one of many projects that have made use of historic tax breaks.

With the new federal tax law in place, local developers are breathing a sigh of relief that it wasn't worse for them. There had been a concern historic preservation tax credits would be abandoned and this method of early financing has been key in adaptive reuse of many older buildings in Buffalo.

They stay, but the restrictions are tighter, especially spreading their benefits over five years, which makes them less valuable.

"It's much better than it could have been," says local architect Clinton Brown, who specializes in historic preservation projects. "The tax credit was reduced in 1986 tax changes. It was further reduced, but it's still a valuable tool in so many ways. There's some ownership issues. The credit comes over five years rather than all at once, which will make it less valuable."

Brown says the challenge now will be to find great projects, the Hotel Henry on the H.H. Richardson complex in Buffalo, that are worth investing in.

Developer Jake Schneider says some of his projects were delayed until the provisions of the law were clear.

"We had pushback from some of our investors regarding the unknowns going into 2018," he says. "We had to get them comfortable with that on a project we are doing right now. So, yeah, there was a lot of concern, but I think that's passed now."

Schneider says the new law does not affect projects like his Seneca Theater development in South Buffalo because it was started before the law changed and has been grandfathered in.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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