Endangering Community Investment with Tax “Reform”

By: Ted Wysocki, Shelterforce

Published: June 4, 2017

There is a significant divergence in meaning between endanger and glimmer. In fact, this may be the first time the two words have been used in the same sentence. They also capture different perspectives on the economic outcome likely to result from tax reform.

“GOP’s tax measures endanger a preservation success story” was the original and more appropriate headline in my home delivery edition of the Chicago Tribune on November 24. I don’t know who at the paper read the column by its architecture critic Blair Kamin and thought the headline should be changed for the online version to “Glimmer of Hope.” I’m seeing very little glimmer knowing that the Institute of Cultural Affairs’ GreenRise historic restoration may be endangered. 

Our organization is layering multiple sources of capital for the $15 million dollar restoration of the landmarked building that ICA has owned since 1971 in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. One key layer is the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), a financing tool that encourages private investment in the rehabilitation of historic buildings. Since its inception [initially enacted in 1978 and made permanent in the tax code in 1986], the credit has attracted $131 billion in private capital to revitalize often abandoned or underutilized properties that have a financing gap between what banks will lend and the total development cost of the transaction.

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