The character, charm, history, and sense of place that historic buildings give our community is special, irreplaceable, and worth saving. As we all know, once a historic building is torn down, it is lost forever. Historic buildings are just one of the reasons why Downtown Harrisonburg is a thriving place, and they are worth fighting for. Today, we need your help. 

Despite vigorous advocacy by Republicans and Democrats in both chambers, the federal historic tax credit (FHTC) was not incorporated into the House tax reform bill during the mark-up process. Representative Goodlatte had supported its inclusion in the bill, for which HDR sent him a letter of our appreciation. On the Senate side, the Finance Committee acted to retain it, but reduced it from 20 percent to 10 percent of qualifying rehabilitation expenditures and eliminated entirely the 10 percent credit for non-historic buildings built before 1936. I’m contacting Senator Kaine today to let him know that this is a mistake for Virginia’s historic downtowns that rely on these tax credits for economic development.

Please join me in letting our legislators know that the historic tax credit is a program we cannot afford to lose—or weaken. Developers all across the nation, and probably in Harrisonburg, will forgo rehabbing old buildings the minute the tax credit is weakened or eliminated because these projects are resource-intensive and don’t make much financial sense to touch unless there is a powerful incentive to make the numbers pencil out. There are two historic buildings that may be rehabbed soon with the use of the historic tax credit. There are others downtown that I hope someday will be completely renovated – but I doubt that it will happen without the 20% federal tax credit. That is going to be a huge loss for our community. We didn’t work for 15 years in downtown revitalization to slip backwards. 

Please call today! 

Senator Tim Kaine

Representative Bob Goodlatte

Simply let them know that saving the 20% federal historic tax credit is important to you and why. Perhaps it is because it makes economic sense to you. Perhaps you enjoy traveling to places with historic buildings – cool B&Bs, storied historic sites, and beautiful places to visit that are unique destinations. Perhaps it is because you believe that this incentive is what Harrisonburg needs to continue building on 15 years of successful revitalization.

Here are some stats that you might also want to use:

  • Since its inception in 1978, the FHTC has generated $29.8 billion in federal tax revenue for a return of $1.18 for every $1 in federal tax expenditures, according to a study by the Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research. This means it returns more money to the US Treasury than it costs – talk about more bang for your buck! Since inception, it attracted $131 billion in private capital. It rehabbed over 42,000 buildings nationwide and created more than 2.4 million jobs. The Commonwealth of Virginia is one of 34 states that sees the incredible impact of the federal tax credit and developed a similar state program to leverage this powerful tool.
  • From Jan. 2004 – 2010, downtown Harrisonburg tracked 157 businesses; 658 jobs; 143 building rehabilitations; 26 public investment projects; $42 million in private investment; and $3.4 in public investment. As of January 2017, our cumulative statistics are: 389 businesses; 1,558 jobs downtown; 286 building rehabilitation projects; 48 public investment projects; $79.9 million in private investment; and $17.7 in public investment. In the last 10 months, several new businesses opened, including technology companies, more historic buildings were rehabbed, and more public investments were made in the existing core of our community. In 2004, we had 150 housing units downtown. Today, we have around 600 and most have a waitlist filled with Boomers, young professionals, and college students. We have five breweries. We have 32 restaurants. We have 30 retailers. These are important contributors to our community but also important contributors to our tax revenues. If we had let our historic buildings crumble and our downtown die, we would have seen none of this economic activity.
  • In looking at just the Keezell Building, the City Exchange, the Cassco Ice House Complex, and the CW Depot – those projects were leveraged into over $26 million historic tax credit projects. Consider just the Ice House alone – this massive structure of more than 80,000 sq ft on two acres -- could have sent tons of debris to a landfill, but instead it is home to a museum and jewelry manufacturing business, a brewery, two restaurants, one coffee shop, yoga studios, offices for several companies, and cool living space for downtown residents. That project sustained 25 full time skilled construction jobs and now has several dozen people who work there. It’s also a daily reminder of our industrial past and our heritage.

We need these tax credits to keep the momentum moving forward – not just in Harrisonburg – but in all the communities with aging diamond-in-the-rough historic buildings that need an extra boost to be put back to use. And to contribute to their local economies again.

Thank you!