State mulling historic tax credit renewal

DALE LIESCH | March 2, 2016


When Mike Rogers Jr. and Steve Willard decided to move their construction company downtown, they helped to breathe new life into a more than 40-year-old building.

Rogers, of Rogers & Willard builders, said they chose the old Turner Todd Motor Co. (Buick) building at 455 St. Louis St. because of what it used to be.

“You could look at it and tell at one time it used to be a really good building,” he said. “You had to have vision to see it.”

With the help of state and federal historic tax credits their vision has been transformed into a modern-looking, 40,000-square-foot office complex with off-street parking.

“It took up almost all of a city block and allowed us to have a parking lot we control,” Rogers explained.

The state’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit, which has been both praised and criticized, made the roughly $5 million investment possible, Rogers said.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the tax credits,” Rogers said. “We probably would’ve stayed where we were.”

Legislative action
The state began offering a tax credit of up to 25 percent for the rehabilitation of historic commercial and residential properties in 2013. The law allowed for up to $20 million in credits per year, according to the Alabama Historical Commission website, meaning roughly $60 million worth of credits have been awarded for projects statewide in three years.

Under the current law the credits expired in 2015, but there are two legislative proposals — HB62 and SB230 — to extend the credits for an additional seven years.

The House version of the bill received a favorable report from the House Ways and Means Education Committee last week and will move on to the House floor. The House bill includes an amendment to suspend the credits in times when the budget is prorated or level funded, which is a cause for concern, according to Jacqulyn Kirkland, marketing and public relations manager for the Alabama Historical Commission.

“This amendment creates uncertainty concerning when the state would issue or honor credits, and it severely devalues the credits,” she wrote. “This could, in effect, cause bank loans to default and projects to result in bankruptcy.”

The Senate version is awaiting committee action.