City Offers Workshop on Texas Historic Preservation Tax Credit

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An historical photo of the St. Anthony Hotel.

An historical photo of the St. Anthony Hotel. Courtesy photo.

The San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation and the San Antonio Conservation Society will host a workshop Friday, Oct. 17, on the new Texas Historic Preservation Tax Credit. Online registration for the afternoon seminar closes at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning.

The Texas Legislature recently passed House Bill 500 which established the state tax credit for certified rehabilitation of historic structures – if the work meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.

The credit offers a tax credit worth 25% of the cost of the rehabilitation project and goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015. Properties placed in service on or after Sept. 1, 2013 are eligible.

Sue Ann Pemberton, president of the San Antonio Conservation Society. Photo courtesy of Mainstreet Architects Inc.

Sue Ann Pemberton, president of the San Antonio Conservation Society. Photo courtesy of Mainstreet Architects Inc.

“This tax credit is absolutely important to San Antonio since there is such an incredible stock of historic buildings who would qualify for this kind of rehabilitation, and the credit would really allow that to happen,” said Sue Ann Pemberton of Mainstreet Architects, Inc. and president of the local Conservation Society.

The program will include review of the legislation that created the program and the Texas Historical Commission’s and the State Comptroller’s regulations, as well as the timeline for implementation.

Participants will learn about the application procedures and the process for evaluating projects and for qualifying buildings. Case studies will examine rehabilitation projects that have used, or would be eligible to use, the Texas Historic Preservation Tax Credit and the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit, including out-of-state projects.

This, coupled with the federal rehabilitation tax credit, can be worth 45% of the rehabilitation project.

Any developers, architects, realtors, investors or individuals in the financing and banking industry – as well as any nonprofits, government leaders or anyone with a historic commercial building in need of rehabilitation – should consider attending the meeting.

“This last year, Texas became the 34th state in the nation to have a state tax credit – and while Texas has no income tax, every business pays a franchise tax,” Pemberton said. “The certified rehabilitation would amount to a 25% tax credit on the franchise tax.

“We have a number of really great historic buildings in San Antonio that are underutilized, and a tax credit like this could kick-start some of the major redevelopment projects,” she added.

The workshop will be held at the St. Anthony Hotel and starts with lunch at 12:30 p.m. in the Anacacho Ballroom, followed by opening remarks at 1 p.m. by Pemberton.

She said the St. Anthony Hotel is a good example of a location that is undergoing rehabilitation right now and will be eligible for the tax credits.

An historical photo of Peacock Alley in the St. Anthony Hotel.

An historical photo of Peacock Alley in the St. Anthony Hotel.

Sharon Fleming, director of the Texas Historical Commission’s Division of Architecture, will give the keynote address at 1:15 p.m., followed by a break at 1:45 p.m.

At 2 p.m., Valerie Magolan, a tax credit program specialist with the Texas Historical Commission, will present case studies and talk about the Secretary of the Interior Standards and the tax credit guidelines.

Her presentation will be followed by a question and answer session at 2:30 p.m. and a panel discussion at 2:45 featuring Pemberton and panelists Clyde Johnson of BC Lynd; Ben Dupuy of Stonehenge Capital; and Hal Fairbanks of HRI Properties.

Although the Secretary of the Interior establishes different standards for the preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction of a building, the rehabilitation credit would apply to rehabilitation of any commercial building. The standards are issued through the National Park Service and were established in Venice, Italy in 1964 to provide basic principles for conservation of historic resources around the world.

The federal standards are used by everyone applying for the credit, though the City of San Antonio may have more stringent standards because its focus is more building-specific, Pemberton noted.

The Texas Historical Commission evaluates properties located within historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places or certified local districts to determine whether they contribute to the historic significance of the area. The standards it uses are available online for further review here.

Pemberton said one of the great things about the tax credits is that it can be “syndicated” by nonprofit entities to investors who can use them, allowing nonprofits to benefit from the tax credit, as well.

At 4 p.m., Centro San Antonio and the Center City Development and Operations Department is sponsoring a tour of the historic hotel, followed by a reception on the Starlight Terrace.

To register for the workshop, visit www.saconservation.org/htc. The registration fee is $45, $35 for students or Conservation Society members. For questions, call the Conservation Society at (210) 224-6163.

*Featured/top image: An historical photo of the St. Anthony Hotel. Courtesy photo.

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